Are we at the end of the road for the spare wheel?

Just three per cent of new cars have a standard-fit spare in the boot, latest RAC data reveals

Latest figures from the RAC point to a huge rise in the number of callouts to cars with no spare wheel that are left stranded by punctures. 

It says a “dramatic decline” in the number of cars fitted with spare wheels saw RAC patrols being forced to rescue almost 200,000 drivers in 2022 – figures from before the pandemic show the number was close to 165,000. Meanwhile, the advent of heavy electric vehicles that need to save weight as well as find space for large battery packs means it’s likely that the number of cars fitted with spare wheels will decrease even further below current levels.

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According to the RAC, it has reviewed the spec sheets of more than 300 different models on sale today in the UK, from 28 brands, and discovered that just eight – 2.6 per cent – are equipped with a spare wheel as standard. In half of those cases, the spare was only available on certain model variants, it says.

RAC Breakdown 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.”

To help deal with the increasing demand for roadside assistance, the RAC has just added a four-stud multi-fit spare wheel to the five-stud item its patrols were already carrying. However, it also reminds drivers that in very many cases manufacturers still offer spare wheels – whether full-size or space-savers – as an option, saying that acquiring one is likely to be “a wise investment”.

Do you think there's still a place for the spare wheel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section…

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