SPARE TIRE ALTERNATIVES
Posted on: Feb. 02, 2017 in Cars, Auto Maintenance

There was a time when most cars came with a spare tire and the necessary equipment to change a flat. Nowadays, fewer cars are coming with spares as standard equipment. Foregoing the spare can save the manufacturer money (which, in the long run, can save you money), but it can also free up storage/cargo space and make your vehicle lighter, thus becoming more fuel efficient. You don’t want to find out your car doesn’t have a spare when you’re stranded on the side of the road, so be sure to check as soon as you acquire the vehicle.

If your car doesn’t come with a spare, what are you supposed to do in case of a flat? This is an excellent question. Here are a few alternatives to spare tires.

  • Run-flat tires. Your car may come with special tires known as run-flats, that are designed to allow you to still drive even after a puncture. You can’t go far – only 10 to 50 miles – and you’ll need to stay under 50 miles per hour. This will help you get your car to a service center.
  • Self-sealing tires. These tires have a sealant inside of them that, when the tire is punctured, will surround the hole. It will then fill the hole once the nail or other item is removed. However, the sealant will not work for large punctures (bigger than ¼”) or sidewall holes. You’ll be stranded and waiting for assistance if that happens.
  • Repair or inflator kits. These kits can range from cans sealant that slightly inflate the tire to more robust kits with an air cartridge and a container of sealant. Sold separately, these kits range in price from $10 to $80. Like the self-sealing tires, these kits will only work for small holes in the tread and will not work on sidewall punctures or slashes.

There are downsides to all of these alternatives. Run-flats will likely need to be replaced once you hit the driving limits on them. Sealants may be a quick and easy way to get you back on your way, but they can also damage your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), so not only will you need to get a new tire, you’ll also have to clean the system’s sensors.

Depending on your driving habits and who you travel with, you may opt to buy a spare and spring for a roadside assistance plan. The peace of mind could be worth the price.

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