Where's the Spare
By Geoff Wheatley
I recently had an interesting experience with a spare wheel, or to be correct a Doughnut spare wheel. While visiting Ottawa, Canada on the fast ring road, my front tire disintegrated. I managed to pull out of the four lane traffic and fond a open spot to examine the damage. The front tire was completely gone, so seeking the jack... Had not see it since purchasing the car; Proceeded to remove the Doughnut Spare.
It was at this point that I realized that it would not fit on the front wheel simply because if it had been installed the car would have had two, totally different size tires which I am sure would make the steering somewhat difficult. As I conversed with my other half without much success in solving the problem, an Ottawa Policeman stopped in his car and told me/us to get out of the flow of traffic, then proceeded to call a local Canadian Tire shop for assistance.
In about ten minutes a recovery truck arrived and the car was hoisted onto the truck, while my wife and I squeezed ourselves to the spare cab seat in company of the driver. In about fifteen minutes we arrived at the tire shop and two large, friendly individuals maneuvered the car into the workshop.
At this point I should mention that the car was an all wheel drive Jaguar, that I had purchased a couple of years before.
The fact that it was an all wheel drive complicated the situation and I was told that all four tires needed to be changed! To be honest I knew very little about such things and therefore was in the tender hands of my two new friends, and the manager who suggested that I chose this tire over that one. I will spare you the result of this encounter except to say, that in my many years of motoring I had never enjoyed the privilege of riding on such expensive tires.
The real purpose of this story is to review the current policy of fitting doughnut tires or the fact that more and more car manufacturers no longer provide any form of spare wheel or even a screwdriver. Tool kits seem to be something of the past in company with the spare.
My limited research into this situation indicates that weight could play a part in this policy as cars today are consumption conscious and the removal of a 80 pounds could improve the MPG. I find this rather strange especially if I have three suitcases in the trunk. Is that going to cost me more fuel, or two friends in the rear seat etc?
I am reminded that when the motor car first became a popular means of transport you were required to purchase a spare wheel as a separate item in company with a few other extras like a windscreen wiper or a heater. My first 1931 vintage car was devoid of any heater and a current 1940's English sports car that I drive about three times a year, also has no means of keeping the feet warm. However it does have a spare wheel located at the rear of the car which I suggest is more welcome than a foot warmer!
The problem with today's modern car re a spare wheel is simple. Where would you put it? I am referring to a real spare complete with inflated tire, that could be fitted to the car by almost anyone, Let me clarify that statement, by anyone who can lift eighty pounds off a wheel hub and then replace in with another of the same weight, i.e., the replacement spare.
By chance that's the way I met my wife, but that's another story for another day.
The AAA reports that one third of all new cars in the USA have no form of spare tire. They go onto report that in 2015 they had a total 450,000 calls from members with no spare stranded on some road or highway.
One alternative is the "Run Flat" tire with reinforced sidewalls, but they are expensive to replace once used and cannot be repaired. The self sealing tire that has been around for some time is another alternative but also not a cheap item to replace if the damage is server. Of course there is always the spray can of tire sealant that most shops sell and can be useful as a stop gap repair but certainly not a long term solution, by that I mean it is unwise to leave the sealing compound in the tire for more than a few days as it has a tendency to turn into a solid block of sticky blob inside your semi repaired tire.
I know from experience!
As I have indicated in the early days of motoring when you purchased a car you often were required to purchase various items that your felt were required to enjoy the joy of the open road.
As they say in the real world nothing changes except the way its presented!
BMW now offers a full tire set in company with Honda Civic, you are still required to purchase the tire from your local dealer but the means of carrying it can be purchased as an extra to the car. The independent retailers have also been quick to cash in on this situation selling complete kits with the tire of your choice.
One final comment to this review has to be the fact that the AAA reported that over 20% of its members did not know how to change a wheel, with or without a tire included! I am sure that was the case in the early days of motoring, but as we now know, time heals everything so have no real concern about the future with or without a spare wheel.
My father who was born in 1919 told stories of how the younger he and his family, when driving to Salt Lake City, Utah, 36 miles away over rough dirt roads using the very fragile tires of the day, would be subjected to several punctures.
Back then cars did carry spare tires and some times 2 spare tires. But most commonly a "fix" would require not only removing the wheel assembly off the car and replacing the "spare" onto the car, but to remove the tire/wheel assembly from the car and then pry the tire off the wheel to access the rubber tube inside the tire and glue on a patch over the hole in the tube. Drivers also carried, in their repair kit a thick large, about 6"x10", rubber patch which was called a 'Boot' to place between the tube and the inner surface of the tire if the road tire had been substantially damaged with a large hole. Of course this is way before AAA and road side service. Back then when something broke you were expected to fix it.Contact Geoff Wheatley