Don’t Spare the Spare . . .

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If you’ve looked inside the trunk of any car built since the early 2000s the first thing you’ll notice is there’s not much in the trunk.

Where’s the spare?

It’s gone!

You might find a “space-saver” tire under the trunk floor but this isn’t a real spare because a spare is by definition another item exactly like the one it replaces. Space-saver tires do not replace flat tires. They temporarily (it’s right there on the warning label) enable you to get back on the road – but just barely, no more than about 50 miles – in order to gimp the car – at no more than about 50 MPH – to the closest-available tire store in order to get the damned thing off the car and get a real tire put back on.

So you can resume driving normally – and safely.

The reason you can’t drive normally or safely on the temporary-use-only space-saver tire is  chiefly because of mismatch.

In order to “save space,” the temporary-use-only spare is very skinny relative to the tire it temporarily replaces. The same diameter as the others but often less than half the width. This means the car is a three-legged dog, with one contact patch that’s barely contacting anything. It makes for weird handling and braking – which is why the many yellow warning stickers on the space-saver tire about it being for temporary-use-only and admonishing you to not drive faster than 50 MPH and not much farther than 50 miles.

It is interesting that the government allows this. But then, it is the government which is responsible for creating this dangerous situation.

The reason why most cars built since the early 2000s do not have full-size spares that match the other tires on the car and which when mounted permit you to drive as far as you need to go and without weird/dangerous handling/braking issues has to do with the government’s mania about making (by mandate) cars more “efficient.”

Whether decreeing the gas mileage the cars we buy deliver is any of the government’s legitimate business – in a supposedly free society – is a whole ‘nother question but the fact remains the government does decree it. And that means the car companies must comply with it. If they don’t, fines descend – and these are then passed on to us, to punish us for buying cars that the government thinks use “too much” gas.

In order to avoid this, the car companies resort to weight-shaving as the heavier a car is, the more fuel it uses. And one easy way to drop about 50 pounds – a significant weight savings – is to get rid of the full-size spare and replace it with . . . a barely usable and objectively dangerous “space saver” tire.

Which gives you some idea about the government’s priorities – as well as its intelligence.

Most people would probably agree that the extra 50 pounds of real spare tire is worth avoiding the prospect of having to drive an unsafe car – and being unable to drive that car very far.

But tell it to Uncle.

And even the space-saver is going away – for the same reason. It’s not 50 pounds but it is something and if you replace that with nothing . . .

Enter the inflator kit.

Instead of a space-saver tire (and the necessary but increasingly flimsy – also to save weight – jacking apparatus, which is another safety issue but never mind) a can of aerosol sealant and a very lightweight air pump you plug into the car’s cigarette lighter. You screw the sealant can onto the valve stem of the damaged tire; goop goes in, plugging the leak. The mini air compressor re-inflates the tire and off you go.

This does eliminate the three-legged-dog problem (though the “fixed” tire is still damaged and care should be exercised driving on it) and it’s less messy and a lot less work, since you don’t need to jack up anything or remove/replace the damaged tire with a spare, space-saver or real.

But it creates another problem – or rather, imposes a new problem on you, the unlucky owner of such a car.

The problem of immobility. Of not being able to drive even temporarily – to anywhere, at any speed.

Because inflator kits  can’t fix damaged sidewalls, tears and such. They are only good for the minor puncture wound as by a nail in the tread. If you have sidewall damage or a major tear, you aren’t going anywhere. You will have to be towed. Or wait until a roadside assistance truck shows up with a real spare tire. Which might be hours or even not until tomorrow. Which might not be convenient, assuming you haven’t got hours to wait or a day to kill.

So it might be a good idea to get a real spare tire and put it in the trunk for just-in-case. Some specific details – and cautions are here. If you get a flat, you won’t be stuck – and you won’t be gimped. Even more important, it will be safe to drive the car.

You’d think the government would be more interested in that – given all the prattling (and mandating) about saaaaaaaaaaaafety – as opposed to the half-an-MPG that’s “saved” by replacing a real spare with a space-saver.

Or by nothing at all.

. . .

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60 COMMENTS

  1. A case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Or different parts of the government talking out of both sides of its mouth.

  2. The very fact that there’s an Allstate insurance commercial about insurance coverage for ‘roadside assistance’ where some teenaged punk on his ‘sail fawn’ bullshits his worried mother that he knows what a car jack is (for changing the tire) while he asks his friend where and what it is. Utterly amazing. I could and did at times change a car’s tire when I was TWELVE. Especially when my Dad was in the Air Force and he was away on TDY (bombing “Charlie” in ‘Nam but fairly much killing a bunch of monkeys and snakes in the jungle) and I had to be the “man of the house”. This is yet more fallout of too many boys being raised by women, even those ostensibly equipped with a penis! (Interpret that however you will).

    Ever the more reason to keep on with restoring that ’66 Plymouth…the way “Gawd” meant the American automobile to be.

  3. Since most people cannot competently change a tire and will only endanger themselves and others if they try the optimal solution is for them to call the number on their insurance and have them send someone to handle it. Do you really think ‘clovers’ should attempt a tire change on a highway? The inflator+sealant is not a bad idea, it will probably get you to the nearest tire place. I heard sealent makes it impossible to repair the tire with a mushroom tire plug.

  4. I bought a used 2010 challenger. Got a nail in the front tire. When attempting th change the tire and put on the space saver, The jack handle hex would not fit the lug nuts. I borrowed a 4 way and the thick shoulder on the 4way would not clear the wheel. I had to go to home depot and buy an oversized deep socket (thin wall) to get the lug off. It seems to save money Chrysler and others use a lug nut with a stainless cover instead of a chrome lug nut. (This is Communist EPA’s war against chrome process.) The previous owner took the car to a tire store for rotations and the lug wrench peaned the cover on the lug nuts and the proper size would not fit 22mm, I had to buy a 23mm to get the lugs off. And then driving the car home all the stability and warning lamps came on and the transmission downshifted to 2nd gear and I had to limp 20 miles home at 25mph. The wheel sensors detected a rotational difference and the SCM freaked out and put the car into limp mode.

    I got a set of chrome lug nuts on eBay for $15 and replaced them all. I bought a long 1/2″ breaker bar from harbor freight for each car and truck. NTHSA needs to ban those covered lug nuts, require a proper spare tire and tools necessary to do the job. I will never buy any vehicle without a full sized matching spare.

  5. I’ve got a full sized spare and a good jack precisely for these reasons. When they put the snows or the summer tires on at the tire shop, I ask them pleeeeeze not to tighten the lugs with those air drills as there’s no way I can loosen the lugs when they do. They don’t always oblige and the last time, when I had to wait for Triple A, because I couldn’t loosen the lugs, I raised a stink. They told me to get lost. Fortunately I found another tire shop.

    • Hi Imbroglio,

      Overtightened lugs are more than an inconvenience. Overtightening can also cause damage to disc brake rotors, resulting in pulsing pedal feel. Newer cars are more vulnerable to this because their rotors are sometimes thinner (to save weight) and so more easily damaged.

      Lugs should always be tightened to the proper torque value.

      • Air-wrenched lug nuts–a pet peeve of mine as well. I once twisted a lug stud right off my Subaru (a $115 repair) trying to change a tire. Fortunately it happened at home and not on the road.

        I don’t use a torque wrench on lug nuts, but always by feel. I’ve changed many a tire in my life and have never had a nut loosen.

        And no spare at all but an air pump and goop? Damnedest dumb idea I’ve seen in a while. You’d better hope the pump works, and the cig lighter works, and the goop is still functional (will it flow when it’s 25 below zero?).

    • Imbroglio, the guys who do my tire work will just spin them on with their air wrenches, then use a torque wrench to finish tightening. These days, it’s necessary to use the torque wrench to avoid ruining a rotor. Hammering a lug nut down with the impact wrench can warp a rotor pretty easily.

  6. My 1990 CRX had one of these space saver tires when I bought it used.

    The first time I had a flat and put on the spacer saver tire and had to drive no faster than 50 mph on IH-35 was the last time I had/used a space saver tire.

    When I got to the tire store the next day, I bought a full-size tire for the spare and let them keep the space saver tire.

    A few years ago, I had a front tire go bad when the steel belts started separating. I put on the full size spare tire and drove on. An hour later, a second tire in the back started having the same problem. Luckily, it was a Saturday so not as much traffic as on a weekday but I still had to drive on it for an hour doing about 40 mph and hoping the tire didn’t blow out completely. I managed to make it to the next town and found a tire store and got a new tire.

    I have since wanted to get a second full size spare tire in case this happens again but with the CRX’s limited trunk space, there won’t be much room for luggage.

  7. What really annoys me is the engineers who sized the storage area to fit the doughnut and not the size of the removed tire.
    So, even if you want to buy a full size spare…it ain’t gonna fit.

    • My CRX’s tire storage area luckily is wide enough but not deep enough for the full size tire so now the tire and the floor cover/carpet bulge up about an 1″ from the floor so no more nice flat cargo floor.

      Small price to pay for having the peace of mind of a full size tire.

    • That problem goes back a long way. My ’77 Cadillac had some kind of weird compact spare that I replaced with a regular steel rim and proper sized tire. The local dealership gave me a nice cover for it made from the same carpet as the trunk liner, but it still took up room in the trunk because the well for the spare was sized to fit the compact spare.

      • I think the “space saver” spares came in around late 1960s or so. In my garage I have an inflatable spare that came out of a Gremlin (I think). From the factory it would have come with a bottle of compressed air. These are different than the “doughnut” spares found on later model cars, when inflated they are about the size of a standard tire.

        Run-flat tires are nothing new either. Rambler 3-seat station wagons came with them in the early 1960s since those cars didn’t have a place to store a spare tire when all the seats were in use.

        • Yes, My Mother had a Hornet wagon in the early ’70s that had the same kind of weird collapsible tire that my ’77 Deville had later on. I think there was an air bottle with it, too.

          The service manager at the Cadillac dealership recommended getting a regular spare, and offered me the cover for it free.

  8. Space savers and a complete lack of a spare tire at all.

    I find this very troubling.

    Most of the cars I had in the 80’s had a full size spare, it was even touted in the manual as a big deal.

    Then 5 or so years later, almost everything that wasn’t a truck had a space saver, which when you had to use it made the car look like it had 3 wheels and a pogo stick. Especially on the front of the car, it made the car feel almost like there was an oil slick on the road.

    Some of these space savers even cautioned not to drive more than 30 mph.

    My 85 Trans Am has a space saver, there’s really no room for anything larger in the tire well, another way to save weight, by using less steel. It’s downright scary to drive on it’s donut the few times I’ve had to.

    My 95 Trans Am is the same. I bought a can of goo and an inflator in case of minor damage just to get me to a shop and get it properly repaired.

    Both of my 2000 Grand Prix GTP’s came with space savers and I put the requisite can of goo and electric inflator in those.

    I was surprised to see that when I bought my 2006 Grand Prix GXP, there was no spare at all. In the spare tire well was a can of goo and an inflator, even though there was the same sized spare tire well as in the 2000 version. They say it’s because the car uses staggered tire sizes and no one space saver would do for both front and rear.

    I don’t trust what came with the car, so I put a modern can of goo and an electric inflator in. I’d rather have a full size or even space saver spare, but the staggered sizes of the front and rear tires don’t seem to lend themselves to that solution.

    Although I’m a Pontiac guy, I miss my old Chevy Van with a proper full size spare and heavy duty jack.

    Anyway, this article was timely for me, as I was just checking the trunks of my cars to see how old the goo and inflators are. At least one could use an update.

    Thanks for another great article, Eric!

    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for the kind words! And – hat tip in re the staggered size wheels/tires. The one bit of good news is that flats resulting from a problem with the tires are less common than in the past because tires are generally of better quality than in the past. But no matter how good a tire may be, it is not impervious to nails in the road or a blown out sidewall from a bad pothole (which is more likely with short sidewall tires – another thing I should have added to the article).

      • Eric, what happens when the wheel gets cracked and the tire is ok? My son has broken 2 wheels by hitting rocks dumped on the road by uncovered quarry trucks. These aluminum wheels crack so easily and are seemingly less durable than the tires. Even the chinese tires. No amount of goop and air will fix a broken wheel.

        • Joe,

          I know you were talking to Eric but I felt compelled to throw in my opinion.

          Not much to do about a broken wheel except replace it, some can be welded but to me there will always be a weak spot. Wheel repair services can do amazing things, but it’s always on an individual basis, depending on the severity of the damage.

          Are the tires low profile? Used to be, a large sidewall would somewhat protect the rim. But now a steel wheel can bend and as younstated aluminum ones tend to crack.

      • That’s a good call, my 95 T/A, 245/50/16, had a screw in the drivers side front tire just the other day. I was lucky to find it after casually glancing after exiting the car. Luckily, they were able to plug it, it wasn’t right in the sidewall, but darn close. They even did it while on the car, which was nice.

        • Ever notice how those screws penetrate the tread, plus 2 steel belts, all at a perfect angle of 90 deg, even though there is no way to do that with a screw lying on the road? Even if the screw is lying point side up, just hitting the screw will put it at an odd angle that makes it impossible to penetrate the rubber and belts. Get the idea that a few tire ships go around with a set of screws and 18V drill and screw those screws into your tires? Because the profit on a repair is higher than the profit on a new tire.

          • I’ve wondered the same. Living on gravel township roads gives me anywhere from 6 to 8 flats a year–as the grader blades the road small knurled pieces of the blade break off and they’re sharp as sin. The only think I can think of is that sometimes when a tire hits a prone nail or screw at just the right angle it stands the screw up.

            • Ross, I’ll call and raise you thousands of RR spikes. We live in the shinery, sand mostly 25-30′ deep. The old sand road was great. You really had to want to do something to use it so there was virtually no traffic.

              The road paralleled the RR tracks that were eventually removed(Katy Line). I loved the sand road, overgrown on each side by trees, used almost exclusively by varmints and deer, a tractor every now and then and occasional pickups.

              Once the rails were removed, the county asked for the chert left and got it for moving it. They spread it over the entire length of the road, about 8 miles. They did a great job of removing the old trees, well, not removing, simply dozing them over on my front fence….thanks a-holes. They put the chert and a matching amount of spikes and various pieces of RR hardware, mainly the broken stuff that had been replaced.

              We replaced 50 new pickup and car tires before I lost count and this was in the first couple years to live here. Nearly all the pickup tires were 10 ply load range E for our 4WD pickups and they got ruined quickly. If they survived to half tread, and few did, they weren’t as likely to get spiked although nothing, including tractors and implements were immune.

              The worst thing was 10 ply tires back in the day never had warranties so within a couple months I’d have 3 or 4 new tires replacing them as they got ruined. Boom, hiss and BAM were common sounds we all dreaded. We had dammit jacks(Hi Lift)and used them frequently.

              Sundays weren’t a day of rest but a good time to drive the road very slowly and pick up spikes. Once we had a few big piles we simply started throwing them back to where the tracks had been. 10 ply 16’s have never been cheap and 30 years ago they cost about half what they now cost, a big hit in the wallet. I couldn’t tell you how many times I came across someone with a ruined tire and no knowledge of how to fix it and like someone else here pointed out, the spares were commonly flat or next to it.

              I normally carried a couple of large air tanks and eventually supplemented the dammit jacks with small floor jacks since the sand you let the dammit jacks move around.

              I”d pull up beside them(only in a 4WD could you do that), throw out my jack, 4 way and commonly air their spare, and change their tire. It wasn’t uncommon to load everyone up and haul them where they could get somebody to bring them a tire since those that have flat spares commonly don’t even have a spare. I can changed a tire in the dark with no flashlight and probably do it blindfolded.

              My best friend and I went to the county line one day to get some cold beer. On the way, one tire was ruined so we put on the spare and continued on. On the way back we ruined another tire about a quarter mile from the gate. I drove that one down to inside the gate and we walked to the house. The next day I removed all the tires off that truck, loaded them in another truck and went to the tire store. The guy who owned it just shook his head and said “If it weren’t for back luck”. People avoided that road like the plague, those who knew about it. Of course the 3 houses that lived on this road just made sure to have a spare. I often carried 2 spares in each pickup. It was rare to need a flat fixed, just buy another tire.

              Well, I’m damned glad I don’t have all those pickups now since I spent Sunday and Monday replacing the water pump on the current Z 71, POS that it is. Once GM changed from the 90’s body style to the 2000 and up, everything that was steel on the older trucks is now plastic crap.

              I found a ’93 Chevy one ton 4WD ext. cab long bed just like one I’d had. They only wanted $19K for it, about what it cost new. 90’s GM pickups get more expensive every day.

              • Man, I’d be fit to be tied in your situation. I know the chert railroads use; I wouldn’t care to fall on it but was it a bigger problem for flats than the spikes and junk?

                • Ross, I looked back at a 24′ offset tandem plow I was pulling with the pickup when the road was badly washboarded and saw the tires hopping up and down and got to see the very instant one hit a piece of chert and exploded. Pieces of chert hit the pickup with one coming through the sunfighter headache rack and open back window, then bounced off the windshield and into my face. Glad to be wearing those sunglasses with the Expensive poly lens where the rock hit.

                  You feel like the road has attacked you in every way possible at that point.

                  I stopped and walked back to the crater with the dirt and rock blown out and that badass piece of chert still embedded in the road with the wicked point stuck up.

                  I walked back to the pickup, got a big shop hammer and beat the chert to pieces. It was a good way to blow off some steam.

      • eric, you lament not having Bridgestone T/A’s. I just saw an ad by Corky Coker and guess what he was standing in front of? Yep, an old TA, almost a dead ringer for your car. He says he has TA’s for 13-15″ wheels while standing in front of a TransAm with honeycomb wheels. If I ever get the old Elco running again I’ll buy a set….or 5. I loved the things….almost as much as the Pirelli radials.

        I’m thinking your wheels are 8″ or 7.5″. Everybody I know seems to think their old wheels were wider than they were. A friend has a 79 Anniversary TA and he said they were 9″ wheels…..but they’re not. I got heavy into wheels in the 70’s since there were so many that looked the same but weren’t. The Elco has 7.5″ wheels that are biased to the inside for the trailer tow package. I have never found another identical set of beauty rings since those are much thinner than every other GM ring. The last set of tires it had were L 60/15’s. I was lucky to find non-metric radials of that size but they were speed rated.

        Corky says their tires have a Z rating. Sounds good to me.

        • Hi Eight,

          I am not a Master of many things, but I know the second generation Firebird better than my own smell – so here is the straight dope:

          All factory Trans-Am wheels from 1970-76 were exclusively stamped steel 15×7, either Pontiac Rally wheels or the Honeycomb wheels (as my car has). These are often mistaken for alloy wheels but are not. The Honeycomb exterior “face” is just that – a decorative element made of a flexible urethane material that was molded onto a steel wheel.

          Beginning with the ’77 models, you could get either the steel 15×7 Rally wheels or the optional 15×7 Snowfake wheels and these were aluminum.

          The Honeycomb wheels were no longer available after ’76.

          Beginning in ’78, there were two versions of the Snowflake wheel – the 15×7 and a 15×8 version, which was part of the the WS6 handling package. These rims have a deeper offset and are easy to ID by sight.

          In 1979, Pontiac offered a third wheel – the so-called “turbine” design. It was only available (initially) with the 10th Anniversary Trans-Am, very limited production model. This wheel was also 15×8. It became available with any Trans-Am for 1980 and ’81.

          No second generation TA ever came from the factory with a wheel larger than 15×8.

          • eric, I was just speaking of the availability of Goodrich, not Bridgestone, TA tires in the old original sizes. Sorry about the Bridgestone screw up. Some of the best pickup tires I ever ran were BF Goodrich.

            The Elco got lots of tires since it got driven hard. The only tire to best the Goodrich TA’s were some Pirelli’s and they were dry tires only, not worth a damn in the rain.

            I got started on Pirelli’s with a 69 Ipala….. as we called them.

  9. Out west there are lots of places that are more than 50 miles from anyplace that can repair a flat tire (or more likely sell you a new one as it’s likely ruined anyway by the time you stop).

    I bought a different set of wheels and tires to replace the stupid original 50 series low profile wheels/tires. On long trips we carry one of the factory type wheel/tire. It takes up a bit of room but if you put the in-side up then you can put other stuff in the “bowl.”

  10. What I really love about the “Mobility Kit” is that day you realize there is in fact a strange smell in your car and upon searching for the smell you discover the kit has exploded it’s goo all over the foam piece it was held in place by and left you with an almost impossible mess to clean up. Super fun!

  11. I remember seeing the first space saver spare on my parent’s 1973 AMC Hornet Sportabout wagon (with the 360 V8.) My dad had some comment about it. I don’t remember. I am okay with space savers, but having a frigging can of fix a flat and an 800 number for “roadside” assistance is an ongoing symptom of the feminzation of this country. Femininity is great. Feminization is not. There is a difference.

  12. Why don’t the automakers just go with no spare at all BUT INSTEAD put a space under the trunk mat for a full spare anyway? Then they could just recommend upon sale of the vehicle that the buyer go get one right away! It would be just like cheap toys– “batteries sold separately.”

    • Mark, that is an elegant solution and it would work like rats a’fightin’ as Mark Twain said. The car would still be sold at the weight the engineers specified for the estimated MPG stats, but the owner could add a full sized spare with a matching tire, a jack and lug wrench, chocks, etc. as he decided.

  13. Luckily, my 2007 Toyota Avalon has a full sized spare on a matching alloy wheel to the rest of them. I imagine Toyota has since stopped this practice. My 2002 Tacoma has a full size spare underneath the bed but the wheel is different than the regular wheels……I’ve yet to have a flat on that beast in 226K miles but when I recently got new tires, I had them replace the spare with the best tire from the old set (with only 25K miles on them because basically they sucked at being truck tires). This also illustrates how owners of older compact pickups get screwed by lack of tire choices in OEM sizes…especially on 15″ rims. But Firestone makes a decent tire in 15″ size…woohoo. The things being done to modern automobiles (as well as the prices) lead me to eschew ever buying another new car…..

  14. I did just what you recommended Eric. Had an ATS with no spare at all. So I found a used rim and put a cheap tire on it, and threw it in the trunk. Also had to acquire a scissor jack and tools, and test it to make sure it all worked. It took up a lot of room in the little trunk, but I could use the back seats if needed.
    I travel some late nights in rural areas, so having a full size spare is a must or at least a good compact version.
    My new 300 has a compact spare and I took it out to check diameter, good. And it looks pretty beefy, so while it says 50mph max, I have the RWD-only 300, so I would not be too concerned going 65 to get me home or to hopefully get the main tire fixed locally if I had a long way to go.
    Did the same thing for my sons Focus RS, no spare, and he also travels late nights in rural areas. So had to do a ton of research to find a rim that would fit over his massive brakes. Turned out because the car is made in Germany, (and they source parts from EU), that a Jaguar compact spare rim fit, and I calculated what compact tire size I needed. Was hard to find the tire, but ordered it, and then we went about how to fit the thing in his car. Turned out we were able to make it fit pretty well, once we removed all the other crap under the rug, and we only had to raise his entire rear hatch floor about 1-2 inches. Used all the cutout foam for the risers. Worked out well. Ford could have done it too.

      • Gotta be honest, Eric, I was up in your neck of the woods, Madison VA a couple years ago for my sons wedding. Got a flat tire on the wife’s Honda Pilot. We were ready for a new set of tires anyway, so I decided to put the donut on and head up to a Firestone dealer in Fredericksburg. I think it was probably about 50, maybe 60 miles. I took route 20 and I think 3, and they had speed limits of 55 – 60. Really, if I hadn’t put the donut on myself, I would have never known by driving it. Handling, ride, etc., no difference from normal. I was quite surprised. Based on that experience, I’m ok with the donut. Now, run flats, canned goop, etc., that might be a different story. Probably too many situations where those things won’t work – shredded tires, bent rims, etc. but really, the donut works temporarily anyway.

  15. A couple of years ago while I was working in the oil patch in New Mexico, I was spending some time off in Carlsbad when a small car driven by a Mexican maniac squealed into the parking lot and slid sideways past the front of my truck, barely missing it. The car then continued to be driven very recklessly in the lot for probably another minute before screeching to a halt. A woman passenger leap out of the car, and so did the driver. The guy kept arguing with the girl. In other words: they had been quarreling while driving. Get this: All 4 tires on the car we’re mini-spares? Is that the new “in” thing for poor Mexican kids?

    • Brian, I used to see compact cars that appeared to have no driver since it’s cool to slouch down and barely see over the dash and sure enough, 4 mini-spares but it stopped a few years back and I’d guess it’s because it’s probably not legal in Tx. It was a mighty stupid look and even more stupid risk.

  16. That is why I love my 2000 Chevy C3500,, I have a full size spare under the bed and I also have two spares in the bed up by the cab on side spare mounts which has a in bed tool box between them under a canopy. My bad luck is 4 tires blowing out… I even carry two spares on the back of my travel trailer. Boy scout that I am.

    • Cederq, 20 years ago I operated a metal fab bizness and built cattle pens, buildings and the like. I pulled a pipe trailer, a pickup bed trailer for remix, a welding trailer and a concrete mixer. They were all different wheel types and tires. I’d have 8 or more tires often in the bed of the pickup along with a torch set-up and all sorts of tools. That poor old Chevy got the whee worked out of it.

  17. To be fair — the government isn’t mandating these things. It’s allowing them, which I don’t have a problem with, caveat emptor and all that. If you WANT to buy one of these things to save money, that’s on you. The problem is the * nudge * of inside the beltway thinking which led to the CAFE fines, the mindset which can’t fathom that because THEY live where a tow truck is always nearby, that this might be a problem out in the more deserted parts of the country, especially the ones that get dangerously hot or cold, where waiting for a repair truck could be hazardous.

  18. For truck owners, on Silverado’s specifically, the spare is smaller than the rest of your stock tires. So if you get a flat on the rear two tires, you need to move a front tire to the back and put the spare in the front so your differential doesn’t get messed up rotating at different circumferences.

    • Actually, most vehicles with space-saver tires have this disparity of circumference. Driving with mismatched tire sizes does not actually damage the differential at all, that is precisely it’s function.What IS critical,
      however, it the maximum speed at which you drive in a straight line, thus the indicated safe speed marked on the space-saver rim. As long as both left and right wheels (and axles) are moving at the same speed, the differential is not in operation at all, and the rear drive operates as a solid gear. Different tire sizes on the same axle line, driven in straight (or 2 parallel) lines, will be interpreted by the differential as a curved path, and the differential mechanism will then operate each axle at it’s respective speeds. But this does have a torsional safety or stress limit, as dictated by the design or heftiness of the differential’s individual components. So the safe speed limit of the space-saver tire is calculated based on the optimum safe cornering speed that the vehicle’s differential is designed to operate at without overstressing its components., thus causing irreparable damage. Now, if you wish to operate said vehicle at normal straight-line highway speeds, without driveline damage, then yes, it would be prudent to put the odd-sized tire on a non-driven hub. This does, however, still present a problem for automobiles equipped with active traction and anti-skid system. These systems, rely on speed data from each of the 4 wheels, regardless of whether or not they are driven or free-wheeling. So it is best to disable traction control, if the option to do so is available, and drive more cautiously, again a second reason for a lower than normal operating speed warning label. Most, if not all, of the newest AWD vehicles have been equipped with full-time traction control systems, and will compensate according to indicated wheel speed, by design. Knowing how your specific vehicle’s drive system operates might be helpful, but is rarely necessary. The design engineers have already considered the fact that most motor vehicle owners and operators will not have such knowledge, thus they will merely label things and instruct the operator accordingly for any given situation, and the use of the space-saver tire is no exception.
      In my 40 years of servicing motor vehicles for the general public, I have most often found that their spare tire, if even present, is virtually always, underinflated, if not outright flat, anyway. In most cases I have dealt with, tire failure is chiefly due to poor or complete lack of maintenance. Those few who are diligent about the condition and care of their spare tire usually likewise pay closer attention to the condition of their 4 main tires and wheels as well, and generally have little or no need of the spare anyway. Today’s auto industry presumes that the modern tire inflation monitoring system is the solution and beyond that, the consumer should not be mucking about with changing tires themselves anyway. Considering today’s populace of mechanically inept consumers, I would tend to agree. Bear in mind, however, that this lack of knowledge most likely stems from a lack of experience, rather than a lack of necessity, for as we all know, even the most prepared of us has suffered unexpected tire failures, regardless of our diligence.

      Mostly it boils down to this, the public is not interested in maintaining anything beyond a certain point of convenience, and the market has responded accordingly. Maybe I should have said that to begin with, and avoided all of the above, but, well, there it is.

      • Spot on. Half or more of the public today is incapable of changing a tire or unwilling to do so, due to ignorance, obesity, laziness, office/business attire, or what-have-you. This includes probably 98% of the female population and an increasingly large percentage of the male population.

        The solution for everyone today is to get out the cell phone and “call someone” rather than even think about doing anything for themselves. Last year I saw two obese females on the side of the highway wearing flip-flops and finger-f*cking cell phones while a tow truck guy changed their tire.

        I would never lower myself to such a condition of dependence. Then again, last time I tried to change a tire with the cheap-shit factory lug wrench it bent. I put steel breaker bars with the appropriate sockets in the trunks of both my cars now.

      • I have an older AWD Subaru, and it’s an article of faith to never run a tire of even slightly different diameter from the rest. With AWD a flat anywhere poses a problem, yet Subaru still puts a spare smaller than the regular tires as a backup, although it’s bigger relative to the car’s tires than the doughnut tires are to my subcompacts.

    • Brazos, been through that myself. My Z 71 had a steel spare. One wheel had a hooey on it so I bought a used aluminum wheel like the rest and moved the bad wheel to the spare and the steel wheel to the tire rack in the pump house. Of course the tire doesn’t match except for the same size but it’s close enough in overall diameter I don’t worry about it…….overly much.

  19. Woe, woe! What sad times we liveth in when the only thing to rant about is inadequate spare tires, lol! I swear, I’m gonna kidnap you and we are going to swim to Paris (don’t want to waste that jet fuel)

  20. I have a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel with almost 150,000 miles on it (warranty gone)
    It comes with that pump with the goop. The pump has long since burned out, it is cheap junk.

    I have been in the situation of being on the side of the road with roadside assistance (AAA) telling me that they would not come for many hours, in sub-zero temperatures after a snow storm has rolled through. My only recourse was to limp down the road a half a mile on the flat tire at about 15 MPH on a 55 MPH rural road to an overpriced mom and pop service station that would not be open for two days and to get a ride from family.

    A spare tire would have saved the day. Even a donut spare would have saved the day. I could have at least gone to a chain tire shop and had the issue resolved the same day at 20% less than I ended up paying.

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