No, I’m not referring to what is around many Americans mid-sections. One thing most people don’t plan for is being stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. It usually ruins your day. It used to be that any time this happened you would pop open the trunk, take out the spare tire, jack, and tools and get to work replacing it. If you paid attention when your Dad (or Mom) taught you had to do this right you could be back on the road in 10 minutes. Years ago many car manufacturers did away with full size spares as being unnecessary and provided smaller, “doughnut” spares instead. Over 5 years ago, many sports models like the Chevy Corvette, Dodge Viper, and Porsche Boxter stopped providing spares all together. Well now, there has been a growing trend of car manufacturers to drop the spare as well. According to AA Mid-Atlantic, about one in eight of every new vehicle had no spare included. Instead, they offered a can of tire sealant and an air compressor. Manufacturers are doing this for a number of reasons. First, they are able to reduce direct costs for the spare tire, jack, and tools required to replace it. Second, by removing those items they are able to offer more storage space to drivers. Thirdly, those tools can way over 40 pounds. Removing them can make a difference with improving the vehicles miles per gallon. This helps car manufacturers meet ever tightening federal fuel efficiency standards. AAA warns that not having a spare can cause issues however. The sealants lose effectiveness over time or may not work at all if there is sidewall damage on the tire. They advise new car buyers to ask about the spare before purchasing a car or negotiate having it included if it doesn’t come standard. They also advise to regularly check the spare to ensure it is properly inflated and in good condition. But honestly, who actually does that? I don’t know a single person that checks their spare on a regular basis. I bet most don’t even know if they have one or would actually change it themselves if they did. Best case scenario you know how and the spare is in good working order - do you really want to risk life and limb to change it on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike? I don’t think so. Especially nowadays where most new cars come with bumper to bumper warranties with 24 hour roadside assistance (if not negotiate to get it), it might be better to take the additional storage room and better gas mileage. If you drive in the middle of nowhere frequently, where help is far or non-existent, then it is probably worth it to have a nice spare available. But you also should then ask yourself – why am I driving in the middle of nowhere?
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Nick Haneiko

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