If you drive a newer vehicle, AAA is urging you to check your trunk to see if it’s missing a spare tire.
According to new research from the auto club, nearly a third (28%) of 2017 model year vehicles no longer come with a spare tire as standard equipment.
Last year alone, AAA said it rescued more than 450,000 members faced with a flat tire whose cars didn’t have a spare. And many people don’t realize this until they’re stranded on the side of the road.
Why is there no spare tire in the trunk of new cars?
“Having a flat tire can be a nuisance for drivers, but not having a spare could put them in an even more aggravating situation,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This can turn the relatively routine process of changing a tire at the roadside into an inconvenient and costly situation that requires a tow to a repair facility.”
Automakers are replacing spare tires with tire inflator kits that can temporarily repair small punctures in flat tires, but those kits don’t work for all tire problems, including sidewall damage and blowouts, AAA said.
In addition, inflator kits cost up to $300 per use, which is up to 10 times more than a simple tire repair, according to AAA.
Why are some automakers eliminating spare tires? It’s an effort to reduce weight and improve fuel economy. However, AAA argues that it just creates headaches for drivers.
Here are five things the auto club wants you to know:
• Do not assume there’s a spare: When purchasing a new vehicle, always ask for a detailed list of equipment and whether a spare tire can be purchased.
• Inspect all five tires: Check tire pressures monthly and have all tires inspected as part of routine maintenance. If your vehicle has a spare tire, be sure that it’s properly inflated.
• Read ahead: If your vehicle is equipped with a tire inflator kit, read the owner’s manual and understand how it works and its limitations.
• Check expiration dates: If your vehicle is equipped with a tire inflator kit, check its expiration date. Most need to be replaced every four to eight years.
• Consider roadside assistance coverage: Roadside assistance coverage can offer peace of mind when faced with roadside trouble, including a flat tire.
If you’re stuck with just an inflator kit, money expert Clark Howard says some people are keeping an old tire as a spare when they get new tires.