Four-fifths prefer a spare

Going spare – four out of five drivers would prefer a spare wheel to an inflation kit

  • Half of drivers would happily pay to have a spare wheel in their car
  • More than a third would think twice about buying a car without a spare
  • Only a fifth of 18 - 24 year-olds would check if their car had a spare

05 February 2024

More than four-fifths (82%)* of drivers would prefer to have a spare wheel in their boot rather than a tyre inflation kit, a survey of 11,959 AA members carried out last week has revealed.

Car tyres

With pothole-related incidents on Britain’s roads at a five-year high, the case for having a spare wheel in the boot of your car has rarely been stronger. Last year, pothole-related damage accounted for almost £1/2bn in vehicle repairs, with a large portion of that spend going on tyres.

Many drivers, especially those with newer vehicles, couldn’t be blamed for thinking that they had a spare wheel tucked neatly away in the boot of their vehicle – but on most occasions, they’d be mistaken. According to the survey, one-fifth (20%)* of 18 – 24-year-olds wouldn’t think to check if the car they were buying had a spare.

“Having a spare tyre can save time and money. If you don’t have one, consider buying one.”
Edmund King, AA president

While it has been estimated that the vast majority of new cars don’t have a spare wheel as standard, AA research indicates this number could be greatly increased if drivers chose the option to add a spare where available. This would help to reduce the number of occasions where drivers find themselves stranded at the side of the road after finding the tyre inflation kit that sits where the spare wheel used to be, has failed to seal the offending tyre, resulting in them calling for help.

Half of the survey’s respondents (49%)* said that they’d be willing to pay to have a spare wheel kit placed in their luggage area, and would welcome the peace of mind that comes with the purchase. Similarly, more than a third (35%)* said that they would hesitate to buy a car if it didn’t come with a spare and one in three (35%)* wouldn’t feel confident using a tyre inflation kit.

The survey showed that drivers in Northern Ireland (59%)* are most likely to pay to have a spare added to their car – with those living in the South West (45%)* least likely to make the same purchase.

Last year, more than half of the vehicles that The AA attended with punctured tyres, didn’t carry a spare wheel, and even though AA patrols were able to carry out a temporary repair to some of these tyres at the roadside, many required an immediate visit to the garage.

For tyres that are beyond repair at the roadside, the driver is left with a couple of options; Call a mobile tyre fitter or allow the attending patrol to fit a temporary ‘Multi-fit Wheel’, then be followed or recovered to a garage, where a replacement tyre can be fitted. If outside garage opening hours, many opt to call out a mobile tyre fitter.

Chris Wood, AA Patrol of the Year, said: “The condition of Britain’s potholed roads is leading to lots of damaged tyres. In previous times, if a vehicle suffered a punctured tyre, our patrols would simply fit the spare wheel and wave the member on their way. More recently, since manufacturers opted to fit an inflation kit instead of a spare wheel, it can take our patrols a couple of hours to resolve the same issue.

“Most of the members we attend say that they’d much prefer the peace of mind of having a spare wheel in the boot, even if they had to pay extra for it. As a result, we are seeing spare tyre kits become more accessible online.

“Being proactive can help to save you time – one suggestion is to store a list of mobile tyre fitters in your phone along with the relevant tyre sizes for your vehicle. This way, if you feel safe to do so, you can quickly arrange a replacement tyre without the need to trawl the internet for the information you need when under stress caused by a vehicle breakdown.

“Our advice is for all drivers to check if their vehicle has a spare wheel before they need it, and if they find that their vehicle doesn’t have one, to have a plan in place if things go wrong. If they do find a spare wheel in the boot, we’d urge them to check that it is serviceable, if they’re not sure how to do this, most garages are happy to help.”

Edmund King, AA president, added: “Having a spare tyre can save time and money. If you don’t have one, consider buying one. Four out of five drivers would prefer a spare so it should always, where practical, be offered as an option.”

*Yonder received 11,959 responses from AA members to its online poll between 11 – 23 January 2024. Yonder is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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