Your new car’s spare tire might soon be going the way of the manual choke. To meet new government fuel efficiency standards, some vehicle manufacturers are skipping spare tires and equipping new vehicles with emergency sealants and inflator kits; or tires that, if damaged, can run reasonable distances without air.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency established new corporate average fuel economy standards for 2012 to 2016 models. The new standards are set at a combined 29.7 miles per gallon for the 2012 model year and will eventually increase to 34.1 miles per gallon by 2016.
In order to achieve these standards in reducing weight without compromising occupant safety, vehicle changes are required. And that means eliminating a spare tire, tools and a jack that can weigh more than 40 pounds. This might be a small amount of weight, but it's a change that doesn’t add cost to the vehicle.
“Unfortunately, many vehicle owners may be unaware their new – or even some existing -- vehicles have no spare tire until they experience a flat,” says Fran Mayko of AAA. “Consumers need to be informed: review your owner’s manual and emergency maintenance supplies; learn about spare-tire alternatives to prevent panic or delay when encountering a flat.”
To be prepared for such a situation, AAA recommends that drivers:
- Inspect the new car thoroughly and consult the owner’s manual to determine whether there is a spare aboard. If the vehicle has a spare, be sure it is properly inflated and stowed. If you can’t find the spare, make sure the vehicle has an alternate solution, such as a run-flat tire that allows the car to be driven within a reasonable distance or comes with an emergency sealant and inflator kit.
- If you carry a sealant, check the date and replace it every five years; or immediately after its use. Sealant can become less effective with age.