There’s been an increasing trend towards new cars being supplied without spare wheels, and in their place you’ll find a tyre repair kit (if you’re lucky). It’s easy to assume that a spare is a legal requirement, and the first some people know about its absence is when it’s too late – probably stuck and immobile at the side of the road.
What the law actually requires is that you have a means of continuing on your journey in your vehicle, and that can include a roadside assistance just as much as a spare wheel. I’m no expert on the business model of motor manufacturers, but the cynic in me wonders whether the kickback from giving away a year’s breakdown cover with a new vehicle works well for both companies (vehicle brand and breakdown insurer), compared with the expense of supplying a spare wheel. Presumably a good number of car buyers will go on to renew their policy in the second year and beyond.
For the recovery company, it’s unlikely that they’ll get many callouts on a brand new car, and if they do, it’s unlikely even then that it’s going to be a tyre or a wheel issue. Regardless it would be under warranty, so the cost would come back to the car maker.
So, that’s the business behind the situation, but it doesn’t change much if you’re at the side of the road, clueless as to why you don’t have a spare wheel. Hopefully, you’ll already know about the breakdown cover you got with the car, and if it’s come up for renewal it’s a cost you’ve paid (or taken similar out with a rival for less).
If you’ve just got a pressure issue, maybe even a slow puncture or kids letting them down, then an electric tyre pump might save the day. If on the other hand though, you’ve shredded the rubber back to the metal, a compressor’s going to be almost no use at all.
That’s the big reason we’d recommend shelling out a couple of hundred pounds that the dealer chose not to spend, and getting yourself a spare after all. In the scheme of things, less than an extra payment on your PCP plan will protect you from getting stranded thanks to a unlucky meeting with a nail or an accidental clip of the kerb.
While the car tyre inflators we talk about on this site are great, they’re not going to work miracles. Check you have a spare wheel – they’re usually under the bottom panel in your boot space or alternatively under the car at the rear, often in a cage structure. If you find a compressed air can as part of a kit, you’re unlikely to find a tyre too.
If you’ve got one then great, if not, now you know what you need to do!