Next time you have a flat tire, don’t count on being able to pull a spare out of your trunk.
The general rule of thumb is that a 10% reduction in vehicle weight leads to a 6-7% improvement in fuel economy, and customer and regulatory demands for higher fuel economy and lower operating costs are causing spares to be left tout of the equation.
Instead, automakers are replacing spare tires with inflation repair kits that include sealant to fix most flats. Since the repair kits only weigh around seven pounds, compared to the 30-50 pounds a spare tire weighs, it’s a way to easily shed a car’s pounds.
Although the durability of tires has increased and most drivers are equipped with cell phones for emergencies, lack of a spare tire still leaves drivers uneasy and fearful of being stranded. Tire pressure monitors, which come standard on new vehicles, also make it easy to know if your tire is flat before chaos strikes.
While drivers are arguing a spare should be included in all cars, some have pointed out that people often choose not to change a flat tire even if a spare is available. Instead, they call AAA or a tow truck.
The benefits of not having a spare are almost too big to ignore. According to the Department of Energy, drivers of smaller cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze or Ford Focus will save $50-$100 a year at the pump at current prices.
But automakers are being realistic about which cars need spares the most. Vehicles meant for heavy duty work, such as trucks and certain SUVs, as well as vehicles meant for off-roading will still be equipped with a spare tire.