Can You Spare the Spare?

2015_volvo_s60

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?

-tgriffith

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