No more donuts, the life and death of the spare tire.
It’s true, you’ve heard the death knell, as more and more car companies are shaving weight in order to raise fuel economy the spare tire is getting the boot. In place of a spare tire, they have put in a can of tire sealant and a pump. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two.
The spare tire is, well, a spare tire. Since its early days, the automobile came with a spare tire, back then punctures from stray horseshoe nails were common, now its curbs, nails and other road hazards and debris. Should you have a blowout or sidewall damage, you’ll be able to replace the damaged tire with the spare until you are able to get it fixed or replaced. The Mini Spare or “donut” tires can be driven up to 50mph and should only be driven up to 80 miles before they are replaced with a normal tire. Most cars and some light truck tires come with this type of spare which come mounted on a rim and fit conveniently in the truck of the vehicle.
The tire sealant and inflator kit, while they will fix a majority of tire punctures, won’t fix everything. The good news, filling a tire with sealant is a much less labor intensive generally it can be much faster. The bad news, if the rim is bent, if it is a large puncture or it’s a damaged sidewall, the damage won’t be fixed by the tire sealant. Unfortunately this leaves a higher likelihood of leaving you stranded.
Is there a good fix, not really, but there are steps you can take so that your tires are prepared for whatever the road has in store. 1. Check your tire pressure, how many times have you heard this before? Without proper tire pressure your tires can’t perform the way they were designed. You’ll get less gas mileage, be more susceptible to tire damage, and your tires will wear faster and less even. 2. Know where you’re going, driving through a construction site or the set of a transformers movie, is probably going to give you a flat tire. 3. Check your tread depth, with the penny test. If you put the head of a penny into your tire tread and it passes into the hair of Lincoln, then it’s time for new tires. When your tread depth is low, you’re more susceptible to tire damage. 4. Clear out the extra weight, most of us are driving around a glorified closet, clear it out. Remember when your car was new and there was nothing in it, go back to that. All the extra weight in your car adds up to lowered fuel economy and more wear and tear on the components (more weight is more work for the breaks and the suspension).
It’s not often that you’ll have to change or fix a flat, but, having the confidence that you’ll be able to do so when the time comes time is important. Waiting for a tow truck or AAA to come and fix your tire is not only time consuming and can be a costly service. A spare tire generally weighs in around 20-30 pounds for a “donut”, translating into a few extra pennies a year in extra gas expenditures’. Any money saved will quickly be lost if you should ever have to use a towing service. The spare tire is going to become more and more absent from new vehicles; would you feel comfortable without one?