Orlando, Florida – US roadside assistance company AAA has called on car makers to re-introduce spare tires in their new models, asking them to “put consumers first”.
“The decision to eliminate the spare tire could leave more than 30 million US drivers vulnerable at the roadside,” according to new research from AAA.
An editorial piece by AAA website said tire inflator kits were a "high-cost alternative" with limited functionality which could not provide "even a temporary fix for many common tire-related problems".
“Flat tires are not a disappearing problem, but spare tires are,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair.
“AAA responds to more than four million calls for flat tire assistance annually and, despite advances in vehicle technology, we have not seen a decline in tire-related calls over the last five years,” said Nielsen.
According to the company, run-flat tires and tire inflator kits have replaced spare tires on 29 million vehicles in the last 10 model years, increasing from five percent in 2006 to more than one-in-three 2015 vehicles – 36 percent.
The AAA said there were minimal savings in fuel consumption with the replacement of the four-pound kit with approximately 30 pounds of spare-tire weight.
“Tire replacement cost is high. With some kits costing up to $300 per use (€275), a tire inflator kit can cost consumers up to 10 times more than a simple tire repair and has a shelf life of only four to eight years,” it added.
Nielsen added that the spare tire had become a “casualty” as car-makers strive to to reduce weight and boost miles-per-gallon.
“Advances in automotive engineering allow for weight to be reduced in ways that don’t leave motorists stranded at the roadside,” he added.
AAA added that it had tested the most common tire inflator kits in vehicles and found that the units worked well in some scenarios, but were not a substitute for a spare tire.
“For an inflator kit to work effectively, a tire must be punctured in the tread surface and the object must remain in the tire.
“Used correctly, the kit then coats the inner wall of the tire with a sealant and a compressor re-inflates the tire,” it said.
However, if the puncture-causing object is no longer in the tire, a sidewall is damaged or a blowout occurs, a tire inflator kit cannot remedy the situation and the vehicle will require a tow.(Image source: Tyresafe)