My Vehicle Didn’t Come with a Spare Tire

Whether you’ve purchased a used vehicle or a new vehicle, it may not have come with a spare tire. What are your options? In this blog post, will discuss how you can best prepare for the eventuality of getting a flat tire.

Installing Run-Flat Tires

Run-flat tires are tires that have been specially constructed to continue supporting your car during a typical puncture. However, they only last for relatively short distance and cannot be driven at high speeds.

Bridgestone run-flat tires, for example, come in two styles: those with a support ring system and those that are self-supporting. Run-flat tires with a support ring system come with a ring of hardened rubber or other material that supports the tire should it become punctured. This prevents you from driving directly on your rim. The self-supporting wheels by contrast have reinforced sidewalls.

Neither tire is strong enough to drive far or at highway speeds. Bridgestone run-flats can drive up to 80 km at a maximum speed of 80 kph at a loss of some or all air pressure.

Tire companies may use different names for these tires. Michelin, for example, calls them Zero Pressure tires. Theirs, too, can drive up to 80 km at 80 kph.

Not all cars can take run-flats, though. Michelin advises you to only install them on vehicles that came with them. “These vehicles have some suspension and chassis modifications designed for run-flat tires,” they write on their website. Bridgestone says to install them only on vehicles equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, which alerts you when a tire loses pressure. Otherwise, you won’t know if you’re driving on a flat tire.

So, run-flats may not be suitable solutions for missing spare tires in all situations, especially for older used cars. In addition, Consumer Reports writes that “run-flats can contribute to a firmer ride in general, and they are often expensive to replace and difficult to find in a hurry.” Moreover, if your tire sidewall is punctured, you can’t drive, period. Run-flats only work if your tread has been punctured.

What other options might you consider?

Tire Repair Kits

Tire repair kits can come in complicated sets with dozens of pieces or in a zippered bag with a few items. These kits help you repair a flat that was caused by a puncture in the tread. (If the puncture is in the tire’s sidewall, you must call for help. Do not drive your vehicle.)

These are the basic steps to repairing a tire with a repair kit that uses plugs.

  1. Jack up your car and remove the wheel.
  2. Remove the object causing the puncture.
  3. Use the reaming tool to clean out the hole. You’ll need elbow grease for this.
  4. Thread a plug through the eye of the insertion needle.
  5. Coat the plug with rubber cement.
  6. Push the plug through the hole, but ensure some of the plug protrudes through the tire tread.
  7. Quickly pull the insertion needle back out.
  8. Using a razor, cut off any excess from the plug.
  9. Install the wheel back onto the car.
  10. Pump up the tire to the correct pressure.
  11. Lower the vehicle.

Scotty Kilmer, who has over 50 years’ experience as a mechanic, recommends driving the car for five minutes to heat the glue on the plug and then check your tire pressure. Follow it up with another pressure check the next morning to be safe.

Purchase a Spare Tire

Spare tire on steel wheel.

You can also purchase a spare tire if you want to, just check your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic for instructions on what to buy. The last thing you want is the wrong spare tire when that emergency strikes.

Make Sure You Have a Plan

Whether you’ve bought a new car without a spare tire, or your used car purchase doesn’t have one, ensure you have a plan to deal with a flat immediately. Either buy a spare, install run-flats (if your car and budget allow), or purchase a tire repair kit. Don’t rely on calling a tow truck for help, because Murphy’s Law will act up right when you’re in the middle of nowhere and can’t get a signal. Be prepared, have a plan, and have instructions printed out. The point of repairing your flat is to get you to a safe destination.