Car manufacturers are stealthily eliminating spare tires from many vehicles, often without notice to the consumer, to reduce weight and increase gas mileage. Yet a less popular fact is that it comes down to cost. The cost of one of these kits is cheaper than that of a tire especially if it is a full size spare.
Buried in the trunk in often a reduced space once reserved for spare tires sits a small tire repair kit equipped with a very highly engineered sealant that is able to repair the majority of flat tires yet will fall short in some circumstances
. "One in every seven cars sold today does not have a spare tire," said Dusty Holcomb, president of AAA Car Care. "Many car buyers don't check for a spare tire when buying a new car and they are not proactively told one doesn't exist." Car manufacturers maintain the tire repair kit reduces the weight of the car by 20-40 pounds to improve gas mileage and conform to federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, currently 29.7 mpg and increasing to 35.5 mpg by 2016. They typically improve mileage only marginally. "AAA recommends everyone buying a new – or used – car check the trunk for a spare tire and learn what the ramifications are if it has been replaced by a tire sealant kit," said Holcomb. "If sealant is used, car should be driven no faster than 45 miles per hour and no farther than 50 miles." "If there is room for a spare tire, AAA recommends buying one," said Holcomb, "because sealant won't work on a blowout or a flat in the sidewall or tread larger than one-quarter of an inch." Eliminating spare tires help reduce the cost of the vehicle and can increase trunk space. However, tires that have used the sealant may not be repairable, require an extra cost to scrape out the sealant before repair and may damage the tire pressure-monitoring gauge, requiring replacement. While some drivers will continue to drive on tires repaired with sealant beyond the recommended distance and speed, the more the tire is driven on, the more compacted the sealant becomes, making repair more difficult and costly. "Cleaning the sealant from a tire costs between $50-$80; replacing and resetting the tire pressure monitor can range from $60 to $100," said Holcomb. The tire repair kits utilize a pressurized sealant and inflator applied through the valve stem of the tire. If the puncture wound is too big, the tire won't inflate. The vehicle must be driven to distribute the sealant to the tire interior, thus blocking the leak.
One trend in the global automotive industry is sustainability. With climate change being a real issue, the pursuit of environmental sustainability is an issue we can no longer ignore. Do you know what the most consumed material in the industry is? Rubber.
Just think about it. There are roughly 90 million vehicles sold per year. 4 tires per vehicle makes that 360 million tires, and if you include a spare tire that makes it 450 million tires. With this fact alone, removing the spare tire is the environmentally friendly thing to do.