Automakers are doing everything they can these days to boost gas mileage.
One of the newest trends for doing that: eliminating the spare tire.
But as some drivers are finding out, there are big downsides to driving without a spare.
"Great Big Pop"
Paul Hawk of Harrison, Ohio, couldn't believe what he found...or rather, didn't find, after a tire blew out while on vacation.
"We're driving down the road," he said, "and all of a sudden there's this great big pop. And my wife says, 'Holy cow, I think we have a flat tire.'"
So Hawk pulled over. But in place of the spare, he found just a small air pump and a patch kit.
"I opened it up and thought 'Oh my God, no spare tire, what do I do now?'" he said.
Hawk says the tire had a deep cut in the side, and the pump and patch was no help.
"When you put the compressor on it, the air just blew out the side of the tire, so I was stranded," he said.
Eventually, he says, a sheriff's car came by, and after a $100 tow, and $150 tire, Hawk and his wife were on their way again.
Caution to Car Buyers
But if you plan to buy a new car soon, you may want to look in the spare tire holder.
Edmunds.com says automakers are trimming all excess weight, such as the 25 pounds of a donut tire and jack, to get the best gas mileage possible.
It says automakers dropping spares in some models include Ford, Chevy, Cadillac, Honda, Hyundai, Audi, and BMW.
AAA has compiled a list of all cars without spares at http://www.aaa.com/AAA/corpcomm/socialmedia/No_Spare-Tires.pdf.
Hawk just wishes the salesman alerted him.
"They need to be more responsible to the people, to make sure they know there's no tires in these cars, so they can prepare themselves when they go on a trip," he said.
Hawk said he plans to buy a spare before his next vacation.
Bottom line: If your car has no spare, and you travel long distances and in remote areas, you may want to invest in a jack and a donut tire. Many dealers sell them for around $100.
As always, don't waste your money.
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