When I was shopping for my current MX-5 back in 2006, one of the first things I noticed when I popped the trunk was the absence of a spare tire. The old MX-5 Miata had a space-saver spare tucked into a corner of the trunk, which provided a handy storage bin for a first aid kit, rags and a few tools. The current generation of MX-5 had no spare, just a compressor, a bottle of Slime and a valve stem removal tool. I’ll admit that it did give me cause for concern, because experience has taught me to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. A little research showed that I could use the spare from either the Mazda RX-8 or the Mazda 3, so I made a mental note to start shopping junkyards when I had the chance. Five years later, I still haven’t added that spare tire to my trunk, but I have stopped worrying about it. I carry a few different types of plug kits and I have AAA membership, so what’s the worst that could happen?
In close to 30 years of driving, I’ve experienced exactly one high speed blowout, driving the Florida Turnpike in a rented Mustang. I’ve had plenty of flat tires, but virtually all were repairable, at least temporarily, with a plug kit and a portable compressor. If I find a nail in the tread, I usually don’t even bother pulling the wheel (especially on the road), since it’s quicker and easier to fix the tire on the car. A surprising number of new cars now come without spare tires, and run-flat tires seem to be losing market share each and every year. Some cars. like Ford’s Mustang, don’t offer a spare tire with the bigger Brembo brake kit. Other cars, like Hyundai’s Elantra, offer a spare tire only as an option, since the spare would have a negative impact on fuel economy.
Here are my questions, RideLust readers: does your current ride have a spare tire, and if not, do you care? Would the absence of a spare tire cross a car off your shopping list? If you drive a car without a spare, what precautions do you take? When was the last time you had a flat tire that couldn’t be repaired via a plug kit?