This is a very fair question. I was a few months into leasing my 2012 Kia Soul when I was reminded of this reality. My car had no spare tire and I had a major flat! Now, let me clarify that I know they all feel major, so lets just say that there was no room for getting to the closest tire shop. It needed attention right then.
As I sat there figuring out my pump with the can of some sort of “fix a flat” provided by the manufacturer and my manual and the other pieces parts that need to all fit together to make this thing work, I realized that this is a common occurrence in many car models being produced today. I have been meaning to write about it since. By the way, that can of goop that you pump into your tire, is a one time use item. That means you need to replace it after each use. It can also do damage to your tire pressure monitor sensors that are inside the tire. Those are the sensors that send a message to your car to make the light go on in your dash that tells you your tire pressure is low! This kit does not work if you have a blow out or shredded tire so keep that AAA number handy or the manufacturer roadside assistance information in the car! I do need to say that the technology of tires today does help to minimize those instances.
I will say that once I got the tire filled with this kit out of the compartment, I was able to drive to the shop that works on my car. They pulled a bolt out of my tire that was the size of my thumb!!! I still have that bolt. They were able to fix it. They did say they could not tell if the TPMS (tire pressure monitor system)sensors were damaged. I was grateful I did not have to buy a tire.
Another reason that you may not have a spare, is that you have run -flats on your car. This is a type of tire that can drive up to 50 miles if its punctured. This is common on BMW’s and the Toyota Sienna AWD minivan has them. Run flats cannot be fixed or patched. They must be replaced and they are not cheap. I found that out when I purchased my 2011 MINI Cooper countryman. I do have a customer with a 2006 BMW 3 series who did not put run- flats on his vehicle when he replaced his tires and does not have a spare. He chooses to take his chances. He saved quite a bit on the tires… Is it worth it? A run- flat also has more road noise and does not last as long. That statement comes from part experience and some reading of reviews.
So we wonder why this is a trend….. Well I think that the manufacturers are all competing for the best MPG! The miles per gallon. The fuel economy! Who has the best when the price of gas is creeping up, up, up? It also saves the manufacturer money to sell a car with 4 tires instead of 5.
Some people never find out they don’t have a spare until they are sitting on the side of the road, need to figure out how to use that kit or call for help. Some don’t care. I recently asked a mechanic about her thoughts on this trend, and she is a fan of keeping the spare. When in doubt, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Ask your mechanic, google reviews from people who have had actual experiences and ask your sales man… Does this car have a spare tire?
I will say that I find it ironic when people do so much homework and spend so much time to find the car with the best fuel economy, then they load up their vehicle with a ton of stuff that they carry around with them all the time in the trunk of their car. All that fuel economy goes right out the window. So think about that the next time you open your trunk and there is a bunch of stuff that has been sitting in there for a long time. It is costing you money!!!
Here are 2 websites I like that may help you: