According to the Los Angeles Times, 13 percent of the 1 million cars sold in the U.S. last month did not have spare tires because “the extra wheel with a run-flat tire or flat repair kit reduces weight, increases gas mileage and lowers costs.”
But without a backup, many consumers are worried about what they should do if they get a flat. Some cars, like the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, come with a flat tire repair kit. Other vehicles come with run-flat tires, which can be driven for 50 miles or more without air, allowing drivers to get to a mechanic without having to stop in bad weather or on a busy highway to replace a busted tire. Consumer Reports adds that run-flat tires are a good alternative because they “have very stiff sidewalls to maintain their ability to carry the vehicle load after air loss.”
While the lack of a space tire reduces the vehicle’s weight, which increases fuel economy, there are several drawbacks. In a conversation with the Los Angeles Times, tire expert for Consumer Reports Eugene Petersen, says that repair kits can’t compensate for a spare tire because “the sealant kits ‘work only if you have a simple puncture in the tread of the tire. And if you use it, it is only a temporary fix.’” Plus, the kits can’t remedy a blown-out or shredded tire, two events that will force drivers to call a tow truck. Run-flat tires are a better alternative, but they’re not perfect. Petersen says there are a lot of complaints about road noise and tread life. They’re also expensive.
If you want your new car equipped with a spare tire, keep in mind that the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Malibu do not have them. According to AOL Autos, “GM says the spare tire saves 26 pounds. That alone doesn't improve fuel economy too much, but the company made 42 other changes in addition to cutting out the spare tire that improve fuel economy by 5%. The Eco version will get 39 mpg on the highway, compared with 37 mpg for the regular models.” In a press release, GM states that the Cruze offers a tire inflator kit to compensate for the spare tire. A spare tire on the Cruze is a $100 option.
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