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Fewer cars come with a spare tire

Surprised? I was. But does it really make any difference?

By doubleace Jun 20, 2011 1:47PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


Three questions:

  • Does your car have a spare tire?
  • Do you need one?
  • Even if you don't need one, do you want one?

I was stunned to read in the Los Angeles Times that, increasingly, your new car comes without a spare


"Automakers are selling more cars without an extra wheel to trim weight, boost gas mileage and shave a few bucks off of their costs," Jerry Hirsch wrote.


How many is "more"? According to the LA Times, 13% of the more than 1 million cars sold in the United States last month came without a spare, even one those little "doughnut" versions. There is no law requiring a spare. Post continues after video. 

Even more surprising -- to me, at least -- is that this is nothing new. A quick Bing check showed that the 2006 Cadillac CTS-V came without a spare. Apparently, high-end brands were the first to make the shift, moving instead to "run-flat" tires, repair-and-inflate kits or sales packages that include free roadside service.


Now it's gone mainstream: Big-selling family cars such as Chevrolet's Cruze and Malibu and the Hyundai Elantra have no spares.

The reason, as usual, is money-based. No spare means the manufacturer has to provide four tires instead of five. Hyundai told the LA Times that, even with adding a tire-inflating kit, it saves about $22 a vehicle. That's $2.2 million for every 100,000 sold, darn near enough to pay the CEO's bonus.


No spare also means more trunk space, and less weight, which should improve gas mileage a teeny bit.


Do you need a spare? I got to thinking: When was the last time I had a flat that required a roadside change? If the memory bank is functioning correctly, it was when my wife and I and a family friend were taking our kids swimming, somewhere in the vicinity of 1976-78.


Tires are pretty hardy. A few years ago, I noticed one of my tires was a bit low, so I inflated it while stopping for gas. I then drove 315 miles across most of Washington, through the panhandle of Idaho and well into Montana before stopping and noticing the tire was low again. Turns out there was a huge nail in it.


I suspect run-flat tires and, in a bind, a seal-and-inflate kit, will do just fine. If not, I buy peace of mind cheaply with an AAA membership (which I've used for a dead battery, but never for a flat in 30 years).


Now, the final question: Do you want a spare?


From the reader comments on the issue, you sure do. Maybe that's why auto dealerships seem reluctant to bring up the fact.


"No spare, no sale," said "zorro.bandito" on the LA Times site.

"Reason #4,539 why I will not buy a GM product ever again," wrote "redgolum" on

Wrote "JosephLCooke" to the LA Times: "I drive about 35,000 miles a year and have done so for decades. I can't remember the last time I had a flat. Still . . .. My old deputy chief just called. I quote, 'Spare tires, like guns, are never needed until needed badly.'"

Others are more pragmatic.


"The evolution of cars has changed over the decades and this is just another change," "jrwkilleen" wrote to the Times.

Of course, while there are fewer cars with spare tires, you still have options. Ask at the dealership, check the Internet. If you demand a spare, buy a model that still includes one.


More on MSN Money:
Jun 26, 2011 7:24AM

I simply go to a junk yard and pull one off another car. I won't use a donut tire.

I rather have a full sized spare. I even leave the donut tire in the junkyard,...

Jun 26, 2011 5:57AM
if haveing a spare is what u really want, like me, you can always go out and buy one. i get a flat all the time it seems like, so i always keep a spare. and it always seems to happen in the worst places. a spare is always a good thing to have....
Jun 23, 2011 1:18PM
Don't know where you all drive, but around my town of Washington, DC someone in my family of 4 drivers gets a flat about once every 5 years. Way too often to go without a spare. Of course, by definition flats don't happen in convenient places or at times when I want my kids waiting 2 hours for roadside service.
Aug 10, 2011 3:02PM
I was stunned to find that my Honda Insight came without floor mats - clearly not a necessity, but it seems kind of chintzy of Honda - what next, extra charge for steering wheel?  
Jun 26, 2011 10:59AM
No way would I get a car without a spare.  I have needed one without notice more than once.  The last time was when my niece was over visiting - she said goodnight, and was back in five minutes saying "did you know your left rear was flat?  I had work the next morning and my garage wouldn't be open until seven the next morning.  It was already 8 at night.  true, I was home and not on the road, but it was great to have the doughnut that we could change it to, and I popped up to the garage the next morning before work.  No time lost.  If I hadn't had the spare I would have missed, portal to portal, at least three hours of work at a really bad time to be missing it.
Jun 26, 2011 10:02AM
No way I would buy a car without a spare . I Live in the south , too many expressway blow outs down here .  Add the heat and humidity and no one wants to wait for 2 hours for roadside assistance , especially with small children . And I happen to be one of those Unlucky people who manages to get a flat atleast once a year .
Jun 26, 2011 9:49AM

No Spare Tire????No Deal.I would insist that the dealer provide a spare tire after the deal is made or no sale.With the price of cars these days they can afford it.If they won't I'll find a dealer that will.Like others have said it has been a long time since I had a flat,but being without a spare almost guarantees you'll have one.

In 2005 I purchased a Chevy SSR which came with no spare and run flat tires.The tires were so noisy on the interstate I had to crank up the radio to drown out the roaring noise,then I could't talk to anyone with me.Didn't like it at all.The SSR was great but I took it back and cancelled the deal.I told the Dealer I would cancel the loan.I purchased a different car,with a Spare.

You don't have to be taken advantage of.Stand your ground.There are plenty of dealers and plenty of cars.

Jul 26, 2014 1:14PM

I have been taking out my spare tire for at last 20 years. I used it one time but it was at home and I did not really need a "spare".  Taking it out gives my car my car better gas mileage, performance, and trunk room. It’s not just the spare that helps, but it’s the crow bar, jack and spare mounting stuff, etc.  (it can be 25-50 lbs of stuff you can leave at home in most cases)

In a world with cell phones now, if one should happen to get a flat, you can either call AAA to fix it or a family member can bring the spare over.  I do think if you are in the outback or do a lot of traveling where you might be in the middle of nowhere that it is a good idea to have a spare.  Being stuck in a cold or hot place can be dangerous.

Another reason not to have a spare is because sometimes the driver will not (or cannot) change the spare anyway.  Some places that I know of have a company policy that the driver is not to change the spare and are to contact their dispatch by radio so a support crew can take care of it.

I have been thinking that it might be a good government idea put a "distress" unit in the trunk.  It would be much smaller than a spare tire and anyone can use it.   People can also use it if they are stuck in the middle of nowhere because their battery is dead or are stuck in the snow.  I think that is a better idea than a "spare".  It would just be a simple device that broadcasts your GPS location and maybe 4 or 5 different buttons with different names: "car issues", "medical", "police", and "fire".  The signal would be pretty strong to have 99+ coverage and would be monitored by a government dispatch agency.  This agency could contact a nearby "contracted" company to do the work or police/fire.

Jun 26, 2011 9:54AM
I guess when it comes down to it, it'll be up to the drivers / car owners. Some people just have it there as a peace of mind knowing that any flat comes there's no waiting for road service. Others either don't get flats or aren't lucky enough to get flats :) they go about weather there's a spare or not.
Jun 26, 2011 9:50AM
If this saves $22 per car, why not just have it as an option? I would pay the $22 extra for the peace of mind since it is a tiny percentage of the cost of the car. I mainly use mine as a temporary replacement while rotating tires.
Jun 23, 2011 3:05PM

I havn't 'had a flat in over twenty years.....just lucky, I guess.

That said, I guess I could do without a spare.Auto

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