Are Spare Tires Going the Way of the 8-Track Cassette Player?

Despite the plethora of optional features in today's new cars, there are a few items one simply takes for granted when plunking down the first payment for a chosen ride. You know, a steering wheel, spark plugs, a spare tire - the basics. But according to multiple major automakers, one of these items is no longer a given, and it's got us a bit stumped.

A new study by the AAA shows that a full 36 percent of 2015 model year cars sold lacked a spare tire, instead gifting buyers with a tire inflator kits. That figure is a far cry from the five percent of 2006 model cars sold without the trusty spare in the trunk's wheel well, and it adds up to some 29 million rides on America's roadways lacking this crucial piece of safety equipment.

So what gives? It turns out that automakers are skipping the spare tire in an effort to shave some 30 pounds of weight off their vehicles - a sacrifice to the increasingly stringent mileage requirements for new cars. While we're all for better mileage, let's face it - being stuck on the side of the road without a spare sucks, and in many cases, that tire inflator kit just isn't doing the trick. Here's why:

  • It's costly: Some inflator kits can run up to $300 to replace after you’ve used them. That's up to 10 times the cost of popping on your spare, heading to the nearest auto shop and buying a new tire.
  • It's got a short shelf life: According to the AAA, a tire inflator / repair kit can go kaput in as little as four years whether it's ever used or not.
  • It's a pain in the arse to use: AAA research finds that some 20 percent of millennials (and truth be told, probably the rest of us, too) have no clue as to how to use a tire inflator kit.
  • It an't always what you need: Tire inflator kits work by applying a sealant on the inner wall of attire at the site of a puncture and re-inflating it. Of course, one must have and identify that reasonably sized said puncture. If your tire has a full-on blowout or sidewall damage, that kit does your ride home about as much good as an 8-track cassette player will do your MP3 tunes.

Are you in the market for a new ride? Check here first to find out if the model you're considering will come without a trusty spare.