Drivers left stranded as car makers ditch spare tyres to meet strict emissions laws

Car tyres

Only eight car models came with a spare tyre as standard

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 20/11/2023

- 09:42

RAC patrols went to almost 200,000 call-outs last year where drivers had a flat tyre and no spare

Millions of drivers across the UK could be left stranded if they break down because car manufacturers are cutting corners to meet strict emissions laws.

Research has found that just three per cent of new car models sold in the UK have a spare wheel as standard.

A spare tyre is vital for drivers to continue their journeys if they get a puncture, with fewer than one in 20 new vehicles having a spare.

The review, from the RAC, looked at 313 vehicles from across the market and found that just eight automatically come with a back-up wheel.

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The breakdown specialists said this was a direct cause for a growing number of drivers needing help with a flat tyre.

RAC patrols were called to almost 200,000 incidents last year where drivers had a puncture and no spare wheel.

This is a dramatic increase compared to 165,000 call-outs just five years ago, highlighting the scale of the issue.

A number of manufacturers have reportedly stopped including a spare wheel as standard in vehicles to reduce the weight of the car by up to 20kg.

The RAC states this is being done to make the vehicles more fuel efficient and adhere to tougher emissions factors, which have become more important in recent years.

Electric vehicles are also likely to omit the spare tyre as they are usually located where the electric battery would need to be.

Rod Dennis, RAC spokesperson, said: “Getting a puncture on a journey has to be one of the most irritating breakdowns for drivers, especially if it’s as a result of hitting one of the plethora of potholes that currently characterise so many of our roads.

“In the past, a driver could have reached for the spare wheel in the boot but this new analysis shows that these are now pretty much a thing of the past, with a miniscule number of new cars sold in the UK coming with one as standard.

“It’s understandable therefore that drivers are increasingly calling on us to help them out of a tight spot, and it’s a trend we fully expect to continue as electric vehicles are even less likely to come with a spare.”

RAC vans previously only carried five-stud spare wheels, although a four-stud version has been added to cater to new cars, particularly smaller ones.

Rod Dennis said this was being done to help stranded drivers “get the best possible service” when their vehicle has broken down.

He continued, saying: “In many cases, drivers ordering a new car can still buy a spare wheel – whether that’s a full-size one or the more common lightweight space saver type – as an optional extra.

“This might turn out to be a wise investment if you are one of the many drivers who unfortunately suffers a puncture.”

The only models found to have a spare wheel were the Fiat Tipo, Hyundai Santa Fe, Land Rover Defender, Suzuki Across, Volvo XC90 (not hybrid) and Toyota Land Cruiser.


Car exhaust

Some brands are believed to remove the spare tyres to meet emissions targets


Selected variants of popular models including the Ford Focus and Seat Ateca will also come with a spare tyre.

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