Are we at the end of the road for the spare wheel?

Just three per cent of new cars have a standard-fit spare in the boot, latest RAC data reveals

Spare wheel

Latest figures from the RAC point to a huge rise in the number of callouts to cars with no spare wheel that are left stranded by punctures. 

It says a “dramatic decline” in the number of cars fitted with spare wheels saw RAC patrols being forced to rescue almost 200,000 drivers in 2022 - figures from before the pandemic show the number was close to 165,000. Meanwhile, the advent of heavy electric vehicles that need to save weight as well as find space for large battery packs means it’s likely that the number of cars fitted with spare wheels will decrease even further below current levels.

According to the RAC, it has reviewed the spec sheets of more than 300 different models on sale today in the UK, from 28 brands, and discovered that just eight - 2.6 per cent - are equipped with a spare wheel as standard. In half of those cases, the spare was only available on certain model variants, it says.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Getting a puncture on a journey has to be one of the most irritating breakdowns for drivers, especially if it’s as a result of hitting one of the plethora of potholes that currently characterise so many of our roads. In the past, a driver could have reached for the spare wheel in the boot but this new analysis shows that these are now pretty much a thing of the past, with a miniscule number of new cars sold in the UK coming with one as standard.

“It’s understandable therefore that drivers are increasingly calling on us to help them out of a tight spot, and it’s a trend we fully expect to continue as electric vehicles are even less likely to come with a spare.”

To help deal with the increasing demand for roadside assistance, the RAC has just added a four-stud multi-fit spare wheel to the five-stud item its patrols were already carrying. However, it also reminds drivers that in very many cases manufacturers still offer spare wheels - whether full-size or space-savers - as an option, saying that acquiring one is likely to be “a wise investment”.

Do you think there's still a place for the spare wheel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

Recommended

UK firm fitting ‘pop bang’ aftermarket exhausts fined in landmark court case
MINI Hatch exhaust
News

UK firm fitting ‘pop bang’ aftermarket exhausts fined in landmark court case

A successful court action against a workshop advertising and fitting non-standard exhaust parts is ‘a lesson for businesses’ from the DVSA
23 Nov 2023
Why is electric car insurance so expensive? EV vs ICE cost analysis
BMW iX3
News

Why is electric car insurance so expensive? EV vs ICE cost analysis

We look into claims that electric cars face higher insurance premiums than ICE equivalents
22 Nov 2023
No help for electric car buyers in Autumn budget statement
Parliament
News

No help for electric car buyers in Autumn budget statement

Chancellor resists calls from industry to fund EV purchase grants or reduce VAT on public charging
22 Nov 2023
What’s in the 2023 Autumn Statement for drivers? EV incentives, fuel duty or VAT on charging?
News

What’s in the 2023 Autumn Statement for drivers? EV incentives, fuel duty or VAT on charging?

We look at some of the options for chancellor Jeremy Hunt when he announces his plans on 22 November
21 Nov 2023

Most Popular

New 2024 Dacia Duster: third generation of Europe’s best-selling SUV revealed
Dacia Duster - front
News

New 2024 Dacia Duster: third generation of Europe’s best-selling SUV revealed

Dacia has taken the wraps off the latest Duster, which arrives with a new look and fresh technology
29 Nov 2023
The paper-thin speakers set to transform car audio
Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler holding a speaker developed by Warwick Acoustics
Features

The paper-thin speakers set to transform car audio

British firm is planning to shake up the in-car hi-fi world with its audio panels that replace traditional speakers. We sound them out
27 Nov 2023
New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash
BMW Neue Klasse SUV exclusive image - front
News

New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash

BMW’s first Neue Klasse electric SUV could carry the iX3 nameplate and our exclusive images preview how it might look
30 Nov 2023