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Although some people worry about the absence of a spare tyre in an emergency, a lot of other people feel that their life would be made much easier if they could simply swap the tyre in their boot for a lot more space.
In fact, according to Continental, a leading tyre firm, spare tyres are only around 70 per cent effective. This is mainly because the tyre is often not road worthy and most of us do not carry around the correct tools or the strength and know how to actually change a wheel ourselves anyway.
I know that if faced with a puncture I would not have a clue how to change my tyre and would simply ring a roadside assistance agency. Roadside assistance has become so accessible and affordable these days that I feel it’s best to leave it to the experts. It’s also a safer option, particularly if you happen to be stuck on a busy main road or worse still the hard shoulder of the motorway.
Many modern cars are now made without a spare tyre as it is not only heavy but it is also rarely used and more importantly takes up valuable luggage space. Instead, the spare tyre has been replaced with a narrow temporary wheel known as the ‘space-saver’. It takes up half the room of a full-sized wheel and is around 7kg lighter too.
Jaguar Land Rover’s senior manager for wheels and tyres, Brian Cooper, says: “Customers now accept that space-saver spares are robust and they appreciate the extra boot space they yield and the weight saving that helps reduce fuel consumption. But we see the improvement in tyre repair systems as beneficial as they liberate even more luggage space and save even more weight.”
Another type of tyre which has recently been introduced and has already proved more reliable than the traditional spare tyre, is the self-sealing tyre. Invented by Continental, it employs an airproof layer inside the tyre to stop air escaping through the tread area. Originally used exclusively by Volkswagen, the self-seal tyre is now available to other manufacturers and will therefore be more widely accessible in the future.
Considering the different options available, and the fact that on average a driver only gets a flat tyre every 44,000 miles or five years, it seems a sensible option to abandon the era of the full-sized spare tyre in favour or a smaller and lighter option. This will hopefully mean better fuel economy for drivers and a whole lot more boot space.