My wife and I bought two vehicles in the past year, one a new sport-utility vehicle and the other a 2015 sedan. Both times before we made a final buying decision, I checked to make sure the vehicles included spare tires.
Years ago it would have been assumed a vehicle included a spare, but that's far from the case today. Nearly a third of new vehicles no longer carry a spare tire, a fact that likely will surprise some motorists when facing the dreaded on-road flat.
Vehicle makers have quietly removed spares from more and more models. I understand their quest to reduce a vehicle's weight as much as possible to meet rising fuel economy standards. As engineers jump through hoops to trim ounces in some cases, they find it hard to overlook the massive weight savings that come from getting rid of a mini-spare along with the jack and wrench set.
But I'll be honest: I don't care, I want to keep my spare. For me it's both a case of safety and convenience. I have had some flat tires in recent years, and I don't want to be left with the alternative of a tire inflator kit that can repair small punctures, but has no value when dealing with a blowout or sidewall damage. Don't get me wrong, I probably wouldn't be changing the spare myself. I'm not a 30-year member of AAA for nothing.
For its part, AAA has done a good job of putting focus on how the trend to ditch the spare can be a hassle for drivers. It found that 20 percent of U.S. drivers don't know how to change a flat, and it responded to 450,000 emergency calls in 2016 from drivers stranded without a spare tire.
And I'm not alone in my beliefs. While far from scientific data, 80 percent of respondents to our recent web poll voted to keep the spare, with roughly 50 percent more people casting ballots than in typical weeks.
So the message is clear: Don't ditch the donut!