Can You Spare the Spare?


My daughter’s birthday nearly ended in the bitter cold, stranded on the side of the road in a questionable area of downtown.

After a nice birthday dinner, my wife and two of our girls clambered into the Legacy to thaw from the unusually frozen April night. With the car started and the heat on, I was ready to pull out of my prime parking space and embark on the journey home.

But I noticed a woman on the sidewalk taking a funny glance at the car as she walked past. Her brief but concerned look caused me to pause enough to wonder what she saw. I got out of the car and found my passenger-side front tire nearly out of air.

“Oh no,” I said to myself, “not here. Not now.”

As the cold seeped through my sweater and into my skin, I had visions of digging through the trunk for the jack and wondered how long I could keep my fingers warm while trying to break loose lug nuts.

Then I wondered if my car even had a spare.

I glanced up and, lucky for me, saw a Chevron station just two blocks away. I sunk back into the warm comfort of the car and slowly drove to the station’s air pump. I filled up and drove home without incident.

But I wondered what I would have done if that station hadn’t been there or if my car had been one of many that don’t include a spare tire. A Consumer Reports article said:

Nearly all car companies are eliminating spare tires from their models. Some upscale and performance cars are instead coming with run-flat tires—tires specially designed to operate for a limited distance after losing air from a typical puncture. But if you’re looking at something more mainstream, the chances are all you’re going to get is a small air compressor and sealant kit for minor punctures.

As car companies try to squeeze every mile of gasoline and save every penny on production, dumping spare tires has become a popular choice in everything from the new Kia Forte to the Volvo S60.

A spare tire isn’t something you think about until you’re stranded on a cold corner after dark, so make sure to double check the trunk before buying a car if it’s important that you have one. Check your current car, too, and make sure you have a plan for dealing with the flat you’ll eventually experience.

Did you know many new cars don’t come with spare tires?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Subaru Legacy
Used Kia Forte
Used Volvo S60

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