Selling cars without spare tires is becoming a common practice and an auto club is urging automakers to put the brakes on it.
AAA said the practice has left more than 30 million drivers and their passengers at risk of being stranded on busy highways and rural roads.
“This is more than an inconvenience," said Amy Parmenter, a AAA spokesperson. "It’s a danger.”
Parmenter said more than 1 in 3 cars do not come with a spare. The spare is often replaced by tire inflator kits, which AAA determined to be less dependable and 10 times more expensive.
“It’s not that the kits don’t work, it’s that they only work when a flat is caused by something stuck in the center tread,” Parmenter said. “So, when there’s an open puncture, damage to the sidewall or a blowout, the kits are useless. The only option is a tow.”
AAA said flat tires are the second leading cause for AAA emergency roadside assistance. The auto club responded to 4 million tire-related calls last year. Fifty thousand of those were in the greater Hartford region.
Wendy Easmon of Vernon said she hasn't had to make one of those calls yet but said it's just a matter of time because she has no idea how to use the alternative.
"I'm still a little anxious because I haven't had a chance to use it at all yet," she said.
“Half the calls I go on, there’s no spare” said AAA emergency roadside responder Tino Velazquez. “But what’s really amazing is that most drivers don’t even realize it until they’re stuck."
AAA said automakers started eliminating spares about 10 years ago in an effort to lighten the load and improve fuel efficiency. However, AAA argues that a 30 pound difference is negligible.
Here is a list of vehicle makes and models from 2015 that can be found without spare tires.
The auto club recommended checking whether a new vehicle comes with a spare or checking if one can be added. It also advised drivers to know the limitations of tire inflator kits.
Easmon also said it's more than the bottome line. It's her time that's worth more.
"I'm a full-time working mom and don't have enough time barely to get home make dinner," she said. "So I definitely don't want to have to wait, read some instructions and try and figure out how to blow up a tire."
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