So Is This The Death Of The Spare Tyre?


The conventional full-sized spare tyre, just can’t stand up to the onslaught of light-weight solutions that can leave your boot totally free for luggage. Spare wheels are awkward at best, inadequate at worst.

Just like the in-car cassette player, wind-up windows and vehicle alarm systems that squawked whenever you pressed the little key fob, our friend the spare tyre may very well be disappearing.

Although a lot of motorists may lament the possible lack of a spare, along with a large proportion of Telegraph Motoring subscribers, who e-mail Honest John, to express their worries about the possible lack of a “proper” emergency wheel and tyre in lots of modern vehicles.  Tyre manufacturers’ research shows that our quality lifestyle might be much better without one.

Reported by tyre company Continental, spare wheels are only efficient in about 70 % of punctures, simply because they are either un-roadworthy or motorists do not have the correct tools, muscle or expertise to change one of the wheels.

There might be a basic safety problem as well, as those who have changed a spare wheel on the hard shoulder will confirm.

The option, as you’ll know if you have delved underneath the floor lately in the boot of any new vehicles, is the diversified realm of, in tyre industry chat, Extended Mobility Solutions. For any vehicle manufacturers, the need to provide something that will get us home following a puncture can be an evil one. All things considered, a spare wheel is weighty, hardly ever employed, and consumes luggage room. For many manufacturers, for example Jaguar, the problem is complicated because a couple of its three designs include different wheel sizes front and back.

The first response to these differing factors was the space-saver, a thin non-permanent wheel that can take up about 50 % the space of the conventional full-sized spare, and it is about 7kg lighter in weight. They may appear spindly and faintly absurd, however they have grown common – and along with their weight means they are simpler to fit.

Jaguar Land Rover’s senior boss for wheels and tyres, Brian Cooper, states that: “Customers now realize that space-saver spares are sturdy plus they value the additional boot space they generate and also the weight saving that can help cut down fuel consumption. But we have seen the advance in tyre repair methods as advantageous because they free even more luggage room and save a lot more weight.”

Say hello to the compressor; this can be employed in two ways. Possibly you have a space-saver spare that can take up much less room but does require an air compressor to actually inflate it. Or else you put in foam to seal off the hole and employ the air compressor to re-inflate. This is the way Continental’s Conti Mobility System functions. They weigh only 1kg and, claims the German company, has a good 80 % rate of success and can be used as much as 400 miles.

Only marginally less effective, but still a lot more dependable compared to conventional and cumbersome spare wheel and tyre, is the new kid on the block, the self-sealing tyre. This Continental creation utilizes an air-proof layer within the tyre. Richard Durance who is from Continental states: “Our studies have shown that nearly 95 % of punctures are generated by single items up to 5mm in size and 61 % by physical objects up to 3mm. The materials within the self-sealing tyre prevent air getting out through the tread area.”

For the 1st year just after being launched, self-sealing car tyres were utilised solely by Volkswagen. But that deal is now completed, so expect them to be suitable for other marques in the near future. Other rewards are these tyres could be installed on regular rims, there aren’t any speed limitations, plus they don’t impair the vehicle’s ride. This can`t usually be said with regards to the run flat tyre.

Run flat style tyres, can also be known as “self-supporting” simply because there is a very rigid sidewall which allows the driver to carry on home after a puncture. In accordance with tyre industry study, they will be 100 % reliable. But the negative thing is normal tyres’ flexible sidewalls assist cushioning road imperfections. Consequently, vehicles with run-flat tyres in some cases have a firmer ride compared to those on normal rubber, as those who own Minis and a few older BMWs will confirm. It is a typical grievance to Honest John, even though new generations of run-flats are considerably more comfortable.

So which of these alternatives is the better? Each will involve a certain amount of compromise, and then again the typical motorist does only get a flat tyre once every 44,000 miles or 5 years.

Whatever solution, it appears motor vehicle manufacturers and motorists alike, are ultimately accepting that hauling a full-sized spare for a frequently uncommon event, is much like having a cumbersome emergency first aid kit in your back pocket.