Over the past 10 years, auto manufacturers have eschewed equipping millions of their vehicles with spare tires, instead opting to provide the consumer with a tire inflation kit or to outfit the vehicles with run-flat tires. AAA says such is the case for 29 million vehicles, or, 36 percent of 2015 models sold in the US. The reasoning behind this trend is improved fuel economy – remove a 30 lb. spare tire, and the automaker can claim higher miles per gallon. A tire inflation kit weighs an average of about 4 pounds.
But couldn’t doing so leave the driver without a proper way to fix their tire, which could ultimately lead to an auto accident or injuries? AAA has officially stated their desire for automakers to always equip vehicles with a spare tire. One reason to do so, says AAA, is because tire inflation kits can only fix certain types of flats. If you have a blowout, for example, the inflation kit can’t fix it. It can fix a puncture that occurs in the outside tread, if the foreign object is still lodged in the rubber.
While not having a spare tire may not necessarily be unsafe, it is important to understand how to use whatever flat repair system you do have. If you have the traditional wrench, jack and spare tire, run through changing a tire at home when you have time. If you have a tire inflation kit, you can’t really practice using it since they run about $300 per use, but make sure you familiarize yourself with the instructions. Run-flat tires won’t require you to do anything to make them work, but you will have to replace or fix the flat soon, possibly within about 50 miles.