Getting a flat tire is always an unexpected challenge, but if a current trend continues you may face another surprise the next time a flat tire strands you at the roadside. AAA research found that over the last dozen years automakers have been eliminating spare tires from their vehicles. Today, approximately 30 percent of new cars come without a spare (up from just 5 percent in 2006) and it is estimated there are more than 30 million cars on the road that lack a spare tire.
The main reason manufacturers are removing spare tires is tough new government fuel economy standards. A spare tire, vehicle jack and related tools can weigh 30 pounds or more. While this might not seem like much, getting rid of the weight provides a small but measurable increase in fuel economy … an increase automakers like because it saves them money in the process. Removing the spare can also free up space for cargo and passengers. Additionally, automakers say the tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) on newer cars reduce the likelihood of being stranded by the roadside with a flat tire – although AAA road service numbers do not bear this out.