Car manufacturers are replacing spare tires with air pumps to improve mileage

In an attempt to increase gas mileage and reduce car weight, automakers are replacing the spare tire with sealant and an air pump.
Written by Ami Cholia, Contributing Editor

The next time you have a flat tire in a newly bought car, you might find yourself with tire sealant and an electric air pump instead of a spare.

With gas prices increasing at a rapid rate, automakers are looking for ways to reduce car weight and increase gas mileage -- and the tire has been given the boot. This year itself more than 14 percent of new models on sale in the United States replaced the spare with the quick-fix kits. The kits themselves are about 20 pounds lighter than a spare and jack, and don't take up as much space in the trunk, automakers argue.

While the sealant can have problems if the puncture is on the side of the tire or if the hole is larger than a quarter of an inch, it will work in most cases. And that's what car companies are betting on. If not, though, you will end up waiting on the shoulder and calling a towing company.

GM, who has already made the kit standard on 17 of its 22 U.S. models, told AP, however, that the kit can fix 85 percent of tire punctures. They also said that it was easier to use for people who didn't know how to change a tire, and it put people back on the road faster. Most new cars also come equipped with an electronic tire pressure monitors and will, in all likelihood, detect the leak before you're completely stranded.

For those who still want the comfort of knowing they have a spare in the trunk, GM said it would cost an additional $100 to get one put.

By 2025, the car and truck fleet in the country will have to average 54.5 miles per gallon, and automakers are doing everything they can to meet standards without giving up performance. Not everyone is completely sold on the idea yet -- Honda, for instance, still uses spares on all its 2011 models -- but it's something we're definitely going to see more of in the coming months.

Via Washington Post

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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