3OYS: Some car manufacturers eliminating spare tires

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The dreaded flat tire can happen to anyone. Most us take out the spare, replace the flat and get back on the road.  But Greg Kachka wonders if he'll be prepared if his car gets a flat.

"I’m pleased with the car," he says. "It drives nice; I get good gas mileage. I can't say anything bad about it except for the fact that I hope I don't get a flat tire."

Greg says great gas mileage is what persuaded him to spend $16K for the 2013 Chevy Spark. But several months after buying the car, he was surprised to learn it was missing something.

"There's the space where the spare tire could go, but instead they put a 'Fix a Flat' and an inflator," he says.

Turns out, Chevy doesn't provide spare tires in some of its cars. Instead, the manufacturer gives you a good old can of "Fix a Flat" to make ends meet.

"I’m taking a trip to Alaska in August," Kachka says. "I can just imagine me being in the middle of Alaska, not a gas station for 200 miles, and the tire blows out the side. A "Fix a Flat" and an inflator isn’t going to help me too much."

"They’re simply not aware that their cars are not equipped with the spares. You know, don't ask, don't tell." Travis Mock is with AAA, and says most consumers just don't realize manufacturers are phasing out spare tires.

"This trend started about two years ago, and a lot of it was simply based on improving fuel economy and dealing with smaller space in cars," Mock says.

There are some new cars that still come with spare tires, like the 2014 Kia.  But not having a spare means a lighter vehicle, which is supposed to mean better fuel economy. "We can be talking about anywhere from 40 pounds to 80 pounds or perhaps even more than that," says Mock. "That can be a significant weight-saving for a vehicle."

It used to be a spare tire came with a vehicle, no questions asked. Mock goes on to say, "Specifically, we don't know all the models that are equipped with spare tires. Probably when you're purchasing a vehicle, add that as something you might inquire about."

Changing a flat tire on a busy road is risky, but Travis Mock says not having a spare presents other risks.  "If you're driving on long distances perhaps, or you're taking your family camping off-road, this can be a significant problem for you."

So, is it really about improving gas mileage or is not putting a spare tire in a car simply saving manufacturers money? You can decide that one, but it's always a good idea to look and see if your new car comes with a spare tire.