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
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...