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AAA Calls On Manufacturers To Stop Dropping Spares From New Cars

by Pete Bigelow, Nov 11th 2015

Automakers are shedding weight from vehicles any way they can in their attempts to meet stricter federal fuel-economy requirements. But by eliminating spare tires, they are causing problems for motorists.

More than a third of new cars sold today don't contain one, and the lack of spares is leaving motorists in a lurch, says AAA. On Tuesday, the nation's largest motoring organization called on automakers to halt the elimination of spare tires to better protect stranded motorists.

"Flat tires are not a disappearing problem, but spare tires are," said John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of automotive engineering and repair. He said the organization responds to more than 4 million calls for flat-tire assistance every year. "... Advances in automotive engineering allow for weight to be reduced in ways that don't leave motorists stranded at the roadside."

The decline in spare tires has been striking. A decade ago, five percent of cars sold lacked a spare tire. Today, AAA says 36 percent don't contain a spare. That number is only expected to rise as carmakers chase Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates of 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025, and reducing weight is one of the key ways to reach the target.

In many cases, carmakers still offer a spare as optional equipment. When that's not chosen, manufacturers have replaced spares with tire-inflator kits. Each four-pound kit eliminates about 30 pounds of weight. But these kits aren't a comparable substitute, says AAA, which says they can cost up to 10 times more than a tire repair and have a shelf life of only four to eight years. Most importantly, they only are effective for a limited number of problems.

AAA evaluated the most common inflator kits on the market and found they work well in some scenarios. If an object that caused a puncture is no longer in the tire, a sidewall is damaged or a blowout occurs, a tire-inflator kit couldn't fix those problems.

"Consumers may mistakenly believe that inflator kits are a one-size-fits-all alternative to installing a spare tire," Nielsen said. "The reality is these kits can accommodate specific types of tire damage, but having the option to install a spare tire can save stranded drivers time and money."

With spare tires vanishing, fewer new motorists are learning how to change a tire. Nearly 90 percent of all drivers ages 35 to 54 know how to change a tire – or at least claim such knowledge. But that falls to 78 percent for millennial drivers, those ages 18 to 34, according to an AAA survey. Gender differences also exist. Ninety-seven percent of men claim to know how to change a tire; 68 percent of women claim the same ability.

By eliminating spare tires, automakers leave motorists stranded
 

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As long as the manufacturer offers the spare as an option. I'm cool with it. The full-sized spare in my ST didn't make it to day two. Although the average may be "thirty pounds or so", the ST spare and jack were closer to forty. That's like an equivalent 4 hp. Anyway, that's where the battery belongs.
 

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Since I'm getting the winter wheels I plan to just carry one of my extra wheels and jack with me if more than a few hours from home. I can try to repair it, but if I can't I can put the extra wheel on and get somewhere.
 

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I might just get an aftermarket spare and throw it in the trunk. It's like an insurance policy - you don't need it until you do

As a side-note, I find it comical that anyone could claim not to know how to change a tire. Hell, there are even instructions in the car and on the spare frequently. It requires no critical thought! I guess I would want to see the difference between "not know" (because maybe they've never had to themselves), and "not be able to figure it out"
 

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No, this doesn't surprise me at all. I went to a Walmart in Clarksville, TN to have the tires on our FiST balanced. The young fuc&tard there stated they couldn't do the work because they didn't know how to jack up the car. They stated there wasn't enough room between the valence and the jack points. There's like 6" there! Dumba$$es... So no, I'm not surprised at all because it seems many of the newer generation have no mechanical ability beyond moving their thumbs.
 

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No, this doesn't surprise me at all. I went to a Walmart in Clarksville, TN to have the tires on our FiST balanced. The young fuc&tard there stated they couldn't do the work because they didn't know how to jack up the car. They stated there wasn't enough room between the valence and the jack points. There's like 6" there! Dumba$$es... So no, I'm not surprised at all because it seems many of the newer generation have no mechanical ability beyond moving their thumbs.
Well.....um......I mean it's WALMART you're talking about there :p quality work/products/service doesn't come to them. Go to any well known repair shop and you're guaranteed to see millennials working as technicians and doing a darn good job at it.

I know firsthand because I was an assistant manager at a repair shop and we had some awesome younger techs.
 

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Well, even at Walmart, all they do is change tires and do oil changes...maybe brakes. It's their JOB though! I've seen a lot of Walmart techs that have been there for like 10 years and do their job very well, like the one 20 miles up the road from me. Very competent guys!
 
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