“Get rid of your spare tire and lose weight!”
It’s advice for those with a pesky roll hanging over their belts, and now it might be advice for car owners, too.
The average weight of a spare car tire (which is actually an entire wheel) is about 30 pounds (although some spares can exceed 50). Thirty pounds isn’t quite a trunkful of bricks, but it is something. In terms of weight, having a 30 lb spare tire is roughly the same as keeping four one-gallon jugs of milk in your trunk.
Just like going jogging with backpack full of spare sneakers would take more energy than jogging without, a car uses a bit more fuel when carrying the weight of the spare tire. It has been estimated that removing the spare tire set from the back of your car can improve gas mileage by up to 1 mpg. For some drivers, this can mean saving up to $100 per year on gas.
Recently, automakers such as Hyundai, Chevrolet and BMW have been ditching the spare tire on new models as an easy and cost-effective way to better fuel efficiency. Instead of the spare tire, the cars come equipped with an inflation and sealing kit to back you up in the case of a flat — the kit only weighs about six pounds.
Foregoing the spare tire is a simple way to move toward meeting federal fuel efficiency standards, saves the automakers money on each vehicle and helps you save money on gas. It sounds like quite the deal. It isn’t surprising that cars without spares are becoming increasingly common.
But there is a downside. The inflation kit only works for small punctures in the tread of the tire for short distances and it’s no use at all in the case of a tire blowout. With a spare tire, you have the comfort of knowing that you will be able to get on the road again regardless of degree of damage on the original tire.
Then again, these days new technology and improved roadside assistance make getting a flat tire less likely to occur and less troublesome when it does. So it does seem a bit silly to cart around 30 extra pounds for something that you probably won’t need. But you also don’t want to be stranded on the interstate in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming with a blown-out tire and no cell phone signal.
Are you comfortable driving with an inflation kit instead of a spare tire? Can you think of any other, better alternatives to carrying a spare?