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Oracle of Delphi

Spare Tire Is History!

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Quietly, and without fanfare, a trend started in the automotive industry – the elimination of spare tires. It is not a new trend – cars without standard spare tires have existed for some years now, but until now they were exotic sports cars, or high-end luxury cars. Unfortunately, that is about to change with this trend going mainstream.

Up to this point the most extreme case of the lack-of-a-tire syndrome were the GM roadster twins – they did not even offer a spare as an option – the trunk on both cars is simply is not big enough. The GM twins, however just followed the trend in many luxury models that either came with run-flat tires or “tire inflation kit” (read: bottle of fix-a-flat). After all, will Mr. Millionaire in a Porsche and $5,000 suit get dirty and sweaty replacing a tire, or will he just call AAA and have the car towed to a shop where someone in overalls will do it for him?

This fall, however, two new vehicles will bring this trend mainstream – a spare tire will be a $60 option on the 2008 Ford Focus, and a $250 option on the 2008 CTS. If these two models cannot make this trend truly mainstream, Saturn has its back – Saturn retailers were recently told that all 2008 and 2009 model years will gradually have their spares eliminated and replaced with inflation kits. I am perfectly positive that many other automakers will follow suit shortly.

Why would they do this, you ask? Simple: the spare tire and jack are bulky, heavy and very rarely used these days. The space and weight savings can be put into good use towards better fuel economy, and bigger trunks. The rarity of someone actually using a spare tire makes elimination of this packaging nuisance that much easier. Moreover, getting back on the road with an inflation kit is significantly easier than changing your tire – you pull out the can, connect it to the valve and spray its contents inside the tire. The chemical in the can will seal the hole and inflate the tire putting you back on the road in no time.

If we are to analyze the demise of the spare tire, we need to point out its true origin: the invention of the “temporary spare.” The ubiquitous doughnut single-handedly rendered the spare tire useless. With a full-size, full-use spare, a flat-tire was a minor annoyance: you pulled over, changed the tire and went on as if nothing happened regardless whether you have 2 miles left to your destination or 500. With a doughnut, you had to truly interrupt your trip, and slowly find the nearest tire shop to fix the “real tire.” All of sudden, simply calling AAA or the insurance company and having the car towed to the aforementioned tire shop became much more attractive – and spare tire truly became a last resort, emergency feature. The elimination of the doughnut is just a next logical step in this downward spiral.

The only downside of this final step is the potential failure of the sealant – if the rupture is big enough or in the sidewall, your fix-a-flat is all but useless. This will not be an issue in most cases – towing will be the #1 option in vast majority of cases – however in the extreme cases of bad luck, remote location, lack of cell phone signal, or late hour, the elimination of the doughnut might leave some motorists stranded.

I am not certain whether I would trust to own a car without a spare – doughnut or not; I just like having the last-resort option. I am thus also uncertain whether I can objectively evaluate the reasoning we are given by the automakers; it all sounds sensible, but it leaves me a little uneasy. Unless this trend stops, or my attitude changes, I might just be left with no option, but to buy a Volkswagen – one of the last automakers to still stubbornly offer full-size spare tires standard on all models.

Link: http://www.autosavant.net/2007/09/spare-tire-is-history.html

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I'm glad my Jeep has a full size spare in the trunk floor. I've changed flats myself a couple of times (at home), other times had to call AAA (the lug nuts were on so tight I couldn't get them off with the lousy tiny factory lug wrench).

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This is ridiculous. I know the second I own a car without a spare tire, I'll have a flat. It's just the way it goes with me.

I have changed like 5 tires in my life, 2 of which were not on my own car. Those Fix-A-flat things don't always work... for example, they can't really be stored in extreme temperatures. I woke up one morning for work and noticed my tire was very low, took it out of the trunk, and the damn thing was frozen. How is that going to help me if GM equips me with a car and a can?

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Yeah.... go modern cars.

Manufacturer to comsumer:

"you do not want a spare tire, or an oil dipstick, or a servicable ignition system"

(at first when I saw this thread I thought it was about weight loss)

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I'm glad my Jeep has a full size spare in the trunk floor. I've changed flats myself a couple of times (at home), other times had to call AAA (the lug nuts were on so tight I couldn't get them off with the lousy tiny factory lug wrench).

Its not the tire iron's fault, rather the schmuck at the shop who airguns the damn lugs like he's riviting the hull of the Missouri. I've had that issue a few times.

I've used my spare twice - once out of necessity (no fix-a-flat or anything with me) and once more recently out of convenience. I have no problem with donut spares; its certainly more space-efficient than a fullsize tire and wheel. I don't know where they get this idea that donuts have a lifespan of five miles or so anyway; just don't drive like and idiot and they'll last a decent amount of time.

Although, my LeSabre is supposed to have a fullsize spare and jack but has neither. I really dont intend on getting anything to store in the car because the way its positioned is ridiculously inefficient and takes up a $h!load of trunk space just like Ford's stupid Crown Vic has it. Plus, I don't like the idea of a bumper jack further warping the bumpers.

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I'd rather have my lugnuts on too tight than too loose!

Next time use a BIG wrench to leverage the tire iron.

Posted Image

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Plus Fly, have you seen those PATHETIC 10" long tire irons in some modern cars?

I'm with Moltar... they're pathetic.

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While the idea of eliminating spare tires in favor of fix-a-flat has space and weight savings advantages, sometimes the rupture is too big for that stuff to work. When my girlfriend was driving the Intrepid on the highway on her way to work, the rear passenger tire blue out...it looked like someone had put huge slash marks throughout the tire wall...there's no way a can of fix-a-flat would seal it up. luckily we had a donut and were able to put it on and she was able to get to work and home no problem.

Instances like this are where spare tires are very nice to have. It's a donut, but i did the job no problem. We keep a can of fix-a-flat in each cars' trunk anyway just to be safe.

Edited by Dodgefan
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Plus Fly, have you seen those PATHETIC 10" long tire irons in some modern cars?

Not in any GM car as of late, who still manages to include a decent jack and tire iron with most every car. Compare to a Hyundai Elantra I had as a rental that blew a tire. The jack wasn't even greased and the tire iron was a virtually straight rod that gives you zero leverage to loosen a lug.

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I've said this once or twice, but the Solara had an awesome jack. I could pull over change the tire and be back on the road in like 6 minutes. A little longer if I had junk in the trunk blocking the spare. That came in handy when delivering, since I managed to catch a nail every couple of weeks. One tire had three plugs in it when I wrecked. It was still at 30psi after the accident. Long live the tire plug. I have roadside assistance until 36k miles on the Fusion, depending on the situation, I may be inclined to use it should I get a flat.

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Poor me, in the GXP, no tire iron or spare, because I have two different size tires, front and back. I wonder if I can get the tire sizes I need if I have a blowout in Europe.

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Both our VW and BMW have full-size spares, but I know the newer 5-series only have donuts because run-flats standard. Tires are a lot wider nowadays; a 275/30-19 spare probably isn't such a good idea.

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Having a full-size spare is still the best way to go. My Lexus has a full-size spare with a matching alloy wheel. I get a flat tire about every other year in my Honda, which I drive the most. With a donut, your speed is limited, and you need to get it replaced right away. The fix-it stuff doesn't always work. Run-flat tires are very expensive.

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One more cool thing about VWs... the fullsize, real spare tire.
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• I know the '67 Camaro/ Firebird has 'space saver' spares: the first?

• The one time I had an outright flat at a Turnpike toll plaza, a passer-by gave me a can of fix-a-flat, but the piece of steel shrapnel tore a gash in the tread that no chemical foam would ever patch. Luckily, I've never driven anything with a space saver, and my full-size spare went right on. Gotta love a truck.

• My wife has had a few tire punctures: I would far rather have the donut and use it than incur a $100 tow bill so I can occasionally stuff a pair of swim fins & a snorkel in the trunk on that summer trip to the lake. Or how about this: add even another 3" to the trunk and provide some decent volume there.

• I often find myself in areas remote enough that I would not want to wait on a tow truck anyway.

• There will be no measurable fuel savings by eliminating the donut; most people carry more random, unneccessary crap weight-wise in their cars as it is; clean out your ride and keep the donut. That said, I eliminated the spare tire well in my B-59 because of the great disparity in front vs. rr tire sizes (235 vs. 315).

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I've been driving for 4 1/2 years and I've blown three tires. Doing away with spare tires is definitely gonna get me stranded somehwere.

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I have did pretty well with tires. My Bonneville currently has a broken belt in the left front tire and a piece of it must stick out because it loses air slowly. Hopefully I can get it to the tire store on Tuesday without something drastic happening. I keep a pair of coveralls,and an X wrench so that if a tire needs changing, I dont get dirty and the X wrench works better than the factory wrench. I dont know about having cars without a spare tire. Tires are a lot better these days but things can still happen. Give me at least a dummy spare.

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While the idea of eliminating spare tires in favor of fix-a-flat has space and weight savings advantages, sometimes the rupture is too big for that stuff to work.

True.

My car doesn not have a spare, and the one flat tire I ever had was due to a huge tear on the sidewall that the repair kit could not handle. The plug-in-the-cigarette-lighter-compressor in the trunk is good to have though.

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True.

My car doesn not have a spare, and the one flat tire I ever had was due to a huge tear on the sidewall that the repair kit could not handle. The plug-in-the-cigarette-lighter-compressor in the trunk is good to have though.

Remember you must unhook the the donkey from the olive cart and ride on the back of the donkey when the olive cart gets a flat tire. :P

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Remember you must unhook the the donkey from the olive cart and ride on the back of the donkey when the olive cart gets a flat tire. :P

I keep forgetting that part of the owner's manual :banghead:
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