Q: Recently, my new car was towed because of a flat tire. To my surprise, my car did not come with a spare. Can I buy one to have in the event of another flat?
A: Nearly a third of new cars now come from the factory with no spare tire. You are not alone in being unaware of the absence of a spare—that is, until you need it. Instead, some automakers include an inflation and sealant kit or use run-flat tires, which can go limited distances. (Check with the maker of the run-flats on your car for these speed and distance ratings, as they may vary.)
Still other automakers provide no backup plan for a flat. Keep your AAA card handy.
Automakers say they don’t include a spare to save space and reduce weight, which adds to fuel economy. They also, of course, save money by skipping the spare tire, jack and lug nut wrench.
This situation has prompted a market for temporary spare-tire kits, which can cost about $450. These include a temporary spare tire and wheel, a jack and a wrench to remove the lug nuts.
If you take this route, make sure the wheel fits your car and that the jack has a low enough profile when fully retracted to fit under the lifting points for your car when a tire is flat. Some jacks fit easily under the car when the tires are fully inflated but are too tall to work with a flat tire. Consider these factors before you buy the kit.