AAA says it had to rescue a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015, and it wasn’t just drivers of older vehicles who got stuck on the side of the road.
Why are so many newer cars breaking down?
In fact, vehicles fewer than five years old had a higher proportion of tire and key-related issues than older cars.
“Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns,” said Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Solutions. “Sleek, low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, electronic keyless ignitions can zap battery life and despite advanced warning systems, more than half a million drivers ran out of gas last year.”
AAA points to the trend of eliminating spare tires in newer cars.
In order to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy, AAA says more than one-third of new cars no longer have a spare in the trunk.
Instead, they come with a tire inflator kit, which looks like this:
According to AAA, these inflator kits work well in some circumstances, but they are useless for some common tire-related problems.
“For an inflator kit to work effectively, a tire must be punctured in the tread surface and the object must remain in the tire. Used correctly, the kit then coats the inner wall of the tire with a sealant and a compressor re-inflates the tire. If the puncture-causing object is no longer in the tire, a sidewall is damaged or a blowout occurs, a tire inflator kit cannot remedy the situation and the vehicle will require a tow.”
Furthermore, AAA says the inflator kits cost up to $300 per use, which is up to 10 times more than a simple tire repair. That’s why AAA is calling on automakers to bring the spare tire back.
If you’re stuck with just an inflator kit, Clark says some people are keeping an old tire as a spare when they get new tires.