Car makers are killing the spare wheel but motorists really want them

More than 80 percent of drivers want a spare wheel in the boot, but it's an increasingly rare luxury

Person lifting a spare wheel out of a car's boot

We’ve long suspected that drivers overwhelmingly prefer traditional or spacesaver spare wheels ahead of the tyre sealant and puncture repair kits commonly installed on new cars today, and a new survey of more than 10,000 AA members has confirmed the preference.

The motoring organisation says 82 percent of members polled voted in favour of a spare, and adds that the case for carrying one on the UK’s damaged and potholed roads has never been stronger.

It has been estimated that pothole damage cost UK drivers a whopping £500million in 2023 alone, with a large proportion of that expenditure going on replacement tyres. The AA reckons drivers of newer vehicles couldn’t be blamed for thinking they had a spare wheel stashed under the boot floor, but in most cases they’d be wrong. The survey also found that a significant 20 percent of younger drivers wouldn’t even stop to consider whether a car they were purchasing was equipped with a spare.

More than half of the AA’s call-outs to drivers stranded by punctures in 2023 were also to cars which didn’t carry a spare wheel. While patrols do carry out temporary repairs if possible, in many cases the only recourse is an immediate trip to a garage using the patrol’s temporary ‘multi-fit’ spare, or calling on the services of a mobile tyre fitter.

In order to cut down on the time patrols spend in such situations, the AA wants to increase awareness of the option to fit a spare wheel after a car has left the showroom. It says half the drivers it surveyed would be happy to pay for a spare wheel - with over a third reporting they’re not confident about using a tyre inflation kit.

“In previous times, if a vehicle suffered a punctured tyre, our patrols would simply fit the spare wheel and wave the member on their way. More recently, since manufacturers opted to fit an inflation kit instead of a spare wheel, it can take our patrols a couple of hours to resolve the same issue,” says AA patrol of the year, Chris Wood.

The AA recommends that owners who do have a spare wheel should check that it is serviceable, and that those who don’t should consider acquiring one.

Do you still value a proper spare wheel in your car? Let us know in the comments...

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.

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