Press releases

Car manufacture's latest fuel-economising idea falls flat

Car manufacturers may be adding to the cost of driving by not fitting a spare tyre to their new models.

Less than 30% of new cars carry a spare tyre as standard, according to an investigation carried out by Which? magazine. Instead in an attempt to improve fuel economy, puncture repair kits have been fitted; a lighter option to a spare tyre. Also, by not having to conceal a tyre allows manufacturers to improve passenger and boot space, whilst replacing a spare tyre with a repair kit is obviously the cheaper option. 

However, puncture repair kits have been proven to be effective only on small punctures in the centre of the tyre's tread. Also RAC patrols have found that customers are not confident with using tyres that have been treated with sealant, with many factors, such as the weather, terrain, distance travelled on a deflated tyre and the nature of the puncture, affecting the sealant's strength.

Finally, the cost of replacing the used sealant kit or a new tyre, (with most garages not wanting to repair the tyre due to the glue inside,) adds to mounting costs for motorists.

In an poll featured in Which? magazine, 93% of the 1,343 readers asked believe that some sort of spare tyre should be offered as standard with all cars. Only 1% was in favour of having a tyre repair kit as standard.

Trading Standards Institute (TSI) chief executive Leon Livermore said: "More and more car makers are supporting puncture repair kits, instead of a spare wheel. TSI have concerns over the safety implications in drivers using repair kits. We would therefore like to see all car makers offer spare wheels as a free option or as standard to prevent the consumer being left uncertain." 

TSI Lead Officer for motor trade, Gerry Taylor said: “The idea of having a spare tyre is so that roadside repairs can be carried out quickly and cheaply with a minimum disruption to the journey.

"Car retailers do not make it known at the time of purchase that the vehicle does not have a spare unless they are asked. It is a common assumption amongst many motorists that there is a spare in the boot. Puncture repair kits will not repair a wall damaged tyre or a blow out and therefore they only have very limited use.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders  provided us with this comment: “Today's cars are all offered with a choice of safety systems that enable motorists to deal with punctures. More than 70% of cars are available with a spare tyre as standard or as an option within the range, but increasing tyre sizes and customer demand for better fuel efficiency, more boot space and lower vehicle prices have driven the market towards a range of other options including tyre repair kits, space saver tyres and run flat tyres.

“A tyre repair kit is safe and easy to use and many motorists prefer the benefits offered by the kits, particularly over changing a wheel at a busy roadside. Most new car packages also include roadside assistance for those that need extra help or to manage more serious tyre failures.

“It is important for new car buyers to understand the safety systems provided with their vehicle and take time to consider the best options for their circumstances.”


Notes for Editors:
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact TSI press office on 01273 292675 or

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.


Which? Magazine
"The Which? mission is to make individuals as powerful as the organisations they have to deal with in their daily lives. We identify where consumers are experiencing problems, and through programmes of research, debate and consumer dialogue we develop effective, practical policy solutions." More information available at

DATE: 17 June 2013