Chatting to our customers who call into our workshop in Darlington for tyres, we are often asked about spare tyres, why car manufacturers are phasing them out and whether it’s a legal requirement to carry a spare tyre in the UK. So here are some answers to our most frequently asked puncture repair and spare tyre questions that we thought others might find useful.

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Do we still need spare tyres?

Is it true that spare tyres are being phased out? It certainly appears so. Fewer than 30% of new cars are now delivered with a spare wheel according to The Telegraph and Which magazine.

But surely it’s a legal requirement to carry a spare wheel? Many people don’t realise that it isn’t actually a legal requirement to carry a spare tyre or a jack.

My spare tyre is worn, will I fail my MoT test? Your spare tyre isn’t part of your MoT test. Though the examiner may draw your attention to it’s condition if it’s unservicable, after all there’s no point in carrying a spare if using it will make your car illegal. If fitted to your car, your spare tyre instantly becomes part of the legal requirements.

What about space saver wheels and tyres? Space saver tyres were and continue to be very popular in some sports models in particular. They save space and weight in cars where those things are at a premium. But they have several important practical limitations to them. Most people are aware that space saver wheels have speed limits applied to them, but what many people don’t consider is, ‘Where am I going to put the dirty, punctured tyre I’ve just taken off?’ Passing it to your passenger to sit on their lap will make you less than popular.

So will I get in my new car instead of a spare tyre? In all probability what you will get instead is a repair kit – a bottle of sealant and an electric compressor. The problem with the sealant is that it won’t work for larger leaks, and the glue sometimes leaves the tyre beyond repair. The RAC attributes 20,000 call-outs a year to new cars without spares.

Why are car manufacturers doing this? Some manufacturers claim that consumers have demanded extra boot space, which had to come from somewhere. Others insist it is done to cut down on weight, and carbon dioxide emissions. Car manufacturers maintain the repair kits are cleaner to use, and that fewer drivers these days know how to change a tyre anyway. That’s right: it’s all our fault. The manufacturers’ main consideration is, of course, the bottom line. Even those little space saver wheels cost up to £150. A repair kit, on the other hand, costs about £20.

What should I do without a spare tyre if I get a puncture? This is something you need to study if you’ve just changed cars and your new car has a space saver or no spare at all. If you have a temporary repair kit and a compressor, generally the sealant is injected into the tyre through the valve, then the compressor is used to re-inflate the tyre. Follow the instructions in your manual about when to start driving once more. You should be sure that the tyre is remaining inflated.

If I use tyre repair sealant to fix my puncture, what happens next? Firstly, don’t just leave it and keep driving for long periods afterwards. The sealant is not a permanent fix and you need to have the problem looked at. Sometimes, sealant can stop a tyre being repaired, but often the tyre can be repaired in the conventional methods. Finally, don’t forget to buy another can of sealant to replace the one you used in your puncture.

What if my tyre is beyond repair? If a tyre workshop removes a tyre to inspect it, they’re not actually allowed to refit a tyre to a car, knowing that it is unsafe. That poses a problem for someone calling in hoping to get a puncture repaired only to find out that it’s worse than it looked from the outside. Indeed in those instances, tyre foam isn’t going to help.

So should I insist on a spare wheel in my next car? Many car manufacturers still have the space assigned for a spare wheel and still offer one as an option. It’s up to each driver to decide wether they can live without a spare tyre or whether.

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