WITH many of today’s new cars being supplied without a spare wheel, new car owners are faced with the dilemma of driving without the security a spare wheel provides, hoping that the tyre sealant supplied with the car will somehow get them out of trouble. Being stranded miles from anywhere in the dark on a lonely road is bad enough for a young person, it is much worse for a pensioner or a lone woman to be stranded all alone. 

I had a puncture on the Motorway, in the dead of night in winter in a brand-new Mercedes that had no spare and the tyre sealant didn’t work. I had to wait over an hour for rescue by a mobile tyre repair company, and that cost £200. I had a similar incident in the city centre that involved getting a replacement car for my clients, then another car and a guy to remove the offending wheel and get it repaired and replaced. 

The conventional wisdom is that a spare wheel is always better than a can of tyre sealant. After all, a good spare will get you out of a situation, whereas tyre sealant can only help with certain types of puncture. Take a chunk out of a sidewall, or bust a bead in a pothole like I did and tyre sealant is useless; with a spare wheel, you’d be back on your way. 

Keep in mind though that there are some points to remember with a spare. Firstly, there’s a penalty, albeit very minor, in terms of fuel economy, because of the extra weight of a spare wheel. Secondly, a spare wheel must be checked and re-inflated periodicall and replaced ideally every few years if it is to remain usable. And, of course, forking out for one in the first place isn’t cheap. 

If you are a professional driver, something you need to take into consideration is the space a spare wheel will take up. 

Will there be room for your client’s baggage and the wheel? I know from experience that heading off on a 1,000-mile tour of Ireland with clients and no spare wheel is concerning to say the least, especially knowing that the clients will want to go down every stoney track in Cork and Kerry; but there is rarely room for clients, their luggage and a spare.

For my daily driver I err on the side of a spare wheel purely for the peace of mind. Let’s face it, if you’re stuck at the side of a road in the dead of night with no phone signal and your can of tyre sealant won’t work, at best you’re in for a long walk. With a spare, even one that’s past its sell-by date, you can limp to a place of safety and get help. For comparison purposes, you can buy a second-hand Ford Fiesta spare wheel with a good tyre for about £40, with a Mercedes spare setting you back about £90. 

There are some good local car breakers who can supply a spare for most car makes including one on the Upper Springfield Road, as well as specialist breakers like the Mercedes breaker at Nutts Corner, or the BMW breakers in Antrim and also Ballynahinch. 

And don’t forget, if you buy a spare wheel, make sure you have a wheel brace and a jack in the car as well. 

Safe motoring.