SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- When buying a new car, you usually don't spend much time thinking about the tires. And many of us don't spend much time thinking about them after we buy a car either. But Consumer Reports says many owners are in for a big surprise when they get that first flat.
"We've had spare tires in almost every vehicle I've ever sol," said Reliable Toyota Inventory Manger Scott Horberg. But times are changing and that spare tire is being spared.
"It's been a recent thing where some other manufacturers have offered vehicles without spare tires. At first I thought it was the strangest thing I'd ever seen," he said.
Not only are spare tires missing, the jack is also no longer a given.
"Auto manufacturers are always looking to optimize passenger and cargo space and to reduce the overall weight of the car to improve fuel economy. Eliminating the spare tire is an easy way to get both," said Jennifer Stockburger with Consumer Reports.
The Hyundai Accent comes with just a small air compressor and a sealant kit to help fix a flat tire - no spare.
The new Scion IQ also comes with similar gear. "It's got basically an air pump that plugs into your 12 volt power supply in the car," Horberg said.
"The problem is that these kits don't work if the damage to the tire is in the side wall area," said Stockburger.
Some car companies--like Scion--have a solution for that. "It comes with a three year road side assistance, so if you were to get into a situation where your tire was flat or you needed towed or whatever it was, then that roadside assistance would then cover you," Horberg said.
Then there are run-flat tires - designed to let you keep driving after a puncture.
"You won't be stuck on the side of the road having to change a tire. But they can be more costly to replace, and they're sometimes not as readily available as a standard tire," said Stockburger.
Bottom line--don't get caught off guard and make sure you know what comes with the new car you are buying it and what doesn't.
The folks over at Reliable Scion say they show people how to use the inflator kits when they buy the vehicle so you aren't left in the dark when you get a flat tire.
A spare tire, related tools and a jack can weigh more than 40 pounds. That may seem like a small amount but every little bit helps when you are talking about getting the best gas mileage on the car.