You’re driving down the road and you hit a pothole. Well that’s a problem so you pull over, get out of the car, open your trunk and get your spare tire….right? Maybe not. It seems like more and more vehicle manufactures are doing away with spare tires and putting “inflation kits” in new vehicles.
Well the idea is pretty simple. Spare tires weigh around 25-30 pounds VS an inflation kit which weighs about 5-10. The lighter the vehicle the better the gas mileage. Now that IS true but eliminating a spare tire for weight would be like trying to thaw out a frozen swimming pool with a hair dryer….it’s not really gonna help. The weight of the spare tire is so minimal that, honestly, there’s no point to taking them out. There is also space to consider. A tire obviously takes up more room than an inflation kit but auto makers have become better at “hiding” the spares in the vehicle to make more room.
Who cares? The inflation kit sounds cheaper and easier.
Well let’s start with the thought about them being cheaper. They are actually more expensive. An inflation kit comes with a sealant that gets injected into the tire. After EVERY use you need to buy a new can of sealant which can cost around $30.
Inflation kits are easier. That one is true and there is no way around it. To use and inflation kit all you have to do it take it out of the car, plug it in your auxiliary power jack(cigarette lighter jack), put the end of the machine on your valve stem and turn it on. The machine injects the sealant along with air to “repair” and inflate the tire. To but on a spare tire you have to have some “know how”. You have to be able to jack the vehicle up, “break” off the lug nuts, replace the tire, tighten the lug nuts, properly remove the jack and put everything away. It’s not exactly easy.
Do they work?
That’s the million dollar question. Short answer “Yes” with a “But” long answer “No” with a “Maybe”.
Yes the inflation works but only with certain puncture scenarios. The puncture has to be located in the tread area with the object still stuck in the tire. Also, you would have had to stop and pull over IMMEDIATELY to avoid inner tire damage. So if there is damage to the sidewall, the tire was driven on “flat”, the tire was a “blow out” or the object well out that inflation kit is useless.
No the inflation kit doesn’t work in case of: blowouts, large punctures, holes with no object in it or sidewall damage of any kind. So instead of having the security of a spare tire most new vehicles are being equipped with the inflation kits.
If you are shopping for a new vehicle make sure to ask. A lot of sales people don’t bring up the subject of spare tires so the buyers usually find out about the inflation kit when they are stuck on the side of the road with an irreparable flat. Some vehicles have the option to get either or so make sure you keep that in mind when car shopping.
So in the battle between spare tires and inflation kits the spare tire reigns supreme.