Automotive Research

Nearly a third of new vehicles do not include a spare tire, AAA finds

Pile of tires

Vehicle manufacturers have been forgoing spare tires in new vehicles as a way to cut weight and improve fuel efficiency.

According to new research from AAA, nearly one-third of 2017 model year vehicles do not come with a spare tire.

How does this affect drivers?

Cutting out spare tires could be detrimental for some drivers. Tire problems are among the top reasons why AAA members call for Roadside Assistance. In 2016, AAA helped more than 450,000 members who had a flat tire but no spare in their vehicle.

Even drivers who do have a spare tire on hand may call for help; AAA data shows nearly 20% of drivers in the U.S. don’t know how to change a flat tire.

Spare tire infographic

Is there an alternative?

Some automakers include tire-inflator kits as an alternative to a spare tire. But a previous AAA study found these kits to be unsatisfactory.Inflator kits are designed to temporarily patch small punctures, but do not offer a long-term solution and cannot repair issues such as sidewall damage or blowouts. Additionally, the kits can cost up to 10 times more than a tire repair and only last 4-8 years in storage.

What can drivers do?

Here are some ways drivers can help avoid becoming stranded with a flat tire:

  • Check for a spare. If you’re buying a new car, ask for a detailed list of included equipment. Your model may come with a tire-inflator kit instead of a spare. If a spare tire is not part of the standard package, ask if you can buy one.
  • Inspect your tires. Check tire pressure at least once a month. Be sure that all of your vehicle’s tires, including the spare, are properly inflated and inspected as part of regular automotive maintenance.
  • Find a trusted repair shop. Bringing your vehicle in for regular maintenance can help ensure your tires stay in good shape. The AAA Approved Repair network has thousands of facilities that meet AAA’s high standards. Learn more about AAA Approved Repair.
  • Prepare yourself. Learn to change a flat tire, and make sure you have all necessary tools in your car. If you have a tire-inflator kit in lieu of a spare, read the manual so you fully understand how it works and its limitations.
  • Stay up to date. Stay aware of your tire-inflator kit’s expiration date. Most of these kits should be replaced within 4-8 years.
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