Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Drivers stranded as car makers ditch spare wheels to meet emissions laws

20 Nov 2023 3 minute read
A flat tyre. Photo Niall Carson/PA Wire

New analysis shows just 3% of new car models sold in the UK have a spare wheel as standard, leading to more drivers being stranded after a puncture.

An RAC review of 313 models – ranging from the smallest superminis to the largest 4x4s – found only eight automatically come with a back-up wheel in the boot.

The breakdown rescue company said this is causing a rise in the number of incidents where drivers need help in the event of an unrepairable flat tyre.

Its patrols went out to nearly 200,000 call-outs last year where drivers had a puncture and no spare wheel, up from 165,000 in 2018.

Many manufacturers have stopped including a spare wheel as standard to reduce the weight of their cars by up to 20kg.

This makes the vehicles more fuel efficient so they adhere to tougher emissions legislation.

Another reason for the decline in spare wheels is that electric vehicles often have battery packs in the place they would be.

The only car models identified as having a spare wheel as standard were the Fiat Tipo, Ford Focus (selected variants), Hyundai Sante Fe (PHEV), Land Rover Defender, Seat Ateca (selected variants), Suzuki Across, Volvo XC90 (not PHEV) and Toyota Land Cruiser.

Irritating

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Getting a puncture on a journey has to be one of the most irritating breakdowns for drivers, especially if it’s as a result of hitting one of the plethora of potholes that currently characterise so many of our roads.

“In the past, a driver could have reached for the spare wheel in the boot but this new analysis shows that these are now pretty much a thing of the past, with a miniscule number of new cars sold in the UK coming with one as standard.

“It’s understandable therefore that drivers are increasingly calling on us to help them out of a tight spot, and it’s a trend we fully expect to continue as electric vehicles are even less likely to come with a spare.

“Fortunately, we’re continuing to innovate to ensure our members get the best service possible should they breakdown as a result of a puncture, having just rolled out a four-stud version of our pioneering multi-fit spare wheel, that’s carried by every single one of our patrols.

“In many cases, drivers ordering a new car can still buy a spare wheel – whether that’s a full-size one or the more common lightweight space saver type – as an optional extra.

“This might turn out to be a wise investment if you are one of the many drivers who unfortunately suffers a puncture.”

RAC vans previously only carried five-stud spare wheels, but a four-stud version has been added as they are becoming increasingly common with new cars, particularly smaller ones.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which represents car makers, declined to comment.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago

Car makers who do not include a spare wheel really are a bunch of spare parts.

saveenergy
saveenergy
6 months ago

So grateful for the pic of ‘A flat tyre’;
this site is such a cornucopia of information !

Anyway, it’s only flat at the bottom !!

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago

I don’t think this is stranding drivers.
They come with crazy foam which is easier to reinflate a tyre with then drive to a tyre place.
Also our lease companies do not want us changing tyres at the roadside because a) it’s dangerous and b) most people damage the wheels by over or under tightening them etc. c) not covered by insurance on leased vehicles. A poorly fitted tyre is also dangerous and causes performance issues affecting fuel economy.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.