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Got a Spare? Not on These Cars

Tire Change

— Earlier this year, I was testing a car on a mountain road with no cellphone reception when I got a flat tire. There was a big rupture in the sidewall. No big deal, right? Slap on the spare, drive out nice and slow, then get the tire changed out the next day.

Related: AAA Issues Plea to Automakers: Spare the Spare

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But when I went to the trunk, instead of finding a spare, there was a tire inflator kit. It took about four or five hours of back and forth with roadside assistance to reach a towing company to get the car out, and then it had to be stored overnight somewhere. It was a huge, huge hassle. Laugh at my misfortune all you like, but this is becoming a more common experience, according to a just-released study by AAA.

Researchers for the roadside-services provider examined model-year 2017 vehicles and found that 28 percent of them do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment. Eliminating the spare tire reduces the weight of the vehicle and improves fuel economy. While those vehicles often come with kits that can temporarily fix small punctures, if you have sidewall damage like I did, a large puncture or a blowout, you're up a certain creek without a paddle.

AAA also offered up a list of 2017 models that don't offer a spare at all. Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Acura NSX
  • Audi R8
  • Audi TT
  • BMW 2 Series
  • BMW 3 Series
  • BMW 4 Series
  • BMW 6 Series
  • BMW i3
  • BMW i8
  • BMW X3
  • BMW X4
  • Cadillac ATS
  • Cadillac CTS
  • Chevrolet Bolt EV
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Chevrolet SS
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Dodge Viper
  • Fiat 500
  • Fiat 500L
  • Fiat 500X
  • Ford C-Max
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Infiniti QX30
  • Jaguar F-Type
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia Niro
  • Kia Rio
  • Kia Soul
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
  • Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • Nissan GT-R
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Porsche 718 Cayman
  • Porsche 911 Carrera
  • Porsche Panamera
  • Smart ForTwo
  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model X

AAA offers up a few tips to keep from being stranded:

  • Don't assume there's a spare, and if there isn't, find out if it's optional.
  • Check tire pressures monthly, including the spare.
  • Find out if your tire-inflator kit has an expiration date, and read the owner's manual to learn its limitations.
  • In a previous survey, AAA reported that less than 20 percent of drivers don't know how to change a flat tire. So learn!