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Stranded Without a Spare

In an effort to reduce weight and improve fuel economy, automakers continue to eliminate spare tires from new vehicles. According to new research from AAA, nearly one‐third (28 percent) of 2017 model year vehicles do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment, creating an unnecessary hassle and expense for drivers.

 

In North and South Carolina, AAA Carolinas came to the rescue of 1,337 vehicles with a flat tire and no spare from January 2017 to September 30, 2017. To avoid a roadside surprise, AAA Carolinas urges motorists to check their trunk for a spare tire before trouble strikes. 

 

While new vehicles are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems that alert drivers to low tire pressure, AAA’s roadside assistance data shows that tire-related problems continue to be one of the top reasons why members call for assistance. Even if drivers do have a spare tire, they are often reaching for their cell phones to call for roadside assistance rather than changing the tire themselves. According to a previous AAA survey, nearly 20 percent (39 million) of U.S. drivers do not know how to change a flat tire.

 

“Having a spare tire on board is an easy way to save time and money in the event of a flat,” said AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety President Tiffany Wright. “It is of equal importance that motorists take the time to learn how to change a flat. It is a skill that could benefit you greatly down the road.”

 

As a replacement for a spare tire, some automakers are including tire-inflator kits that can temporarily repair small punctures in flat tires. However, a 2015 AAA study found that tire-inflator kits have limited functionality and cannot provide even a temporary fix for many tire-related problems, including sidewall damage or blowouts. Not only are tire-inflator kits not a good substitute for a spare tire, they can cost up to 10 times more than a tire repair and have a shelf life of only four to eight years.

 

“Tire-inflator kits and other temporary fixes may bring a false sense of comfort to drivers,” Wright said. “AAA Carolinas urges drivers to make it a priority to check their vehicle’s equipment and know what to do if faced with a flat tire.”

 

To prevent drivers from being stranded in the event of a flat tire, AAA Carolinas offers these precautionary tips:

 

  • Do not assume there’s a spare. When purchasing a new vehicle, always ask for a detailed list of equipment and whether a spare tire can be purchased.
  • Inspect all five tires. Check tire pressures monthly and have all tires inspected as part of routine maintenance. If your vehicle has a spare tire, be sure that it’s properly inflated.
  • Read ahead. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, read the owner’s manual and understand how it works and its limitations.
  • Check expiration dates. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, check its expiration date. Most need to be replaced every four to eight years.
  • Check your new vehicle. Follow this link for a comprehensive list of which 2017 vehicles come with a spare.
  • Consider roadside assistance coverage. Roadside assistance coverage can offer peace of mind when faced with roadside trouble, including a flat tire. To become a AAA member, visit AAA.com/join.

 

In addition, drivers should identify a repair shop they trust to help keep their vehicle tires in good shape. AAA's Approved Auto Repair network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members have saved a total of more than $3 million dollars by visiting AAR facilities in the last year. Visit AAA.com/AutoRepair to find a nearby facility.

 

AAA Carolinas offers also a hassle-free auto-buying service to members and non-members. For more information on purchasing a vehicle through AAA visit aaa.com/autobuying

 

For more seasonal traffic safety tips, please subscribe to our AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety e-newsletter. By clicking the button below, you will be registered to receive an email each month with the latest information regarding traffic safety, including travel forecasts and automotive trends. 

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