Apparently one in three Canadians had a flat tire last year, yet a recent survey conducted by tire retailer Kal Tire shows that drivers tend to neglect their spare tire.
In fact, the situation is so bad, that many drivers have no knowledge as to the age or condition of their spare tire, or if they even have a spare!
As the weather improves and families start to plan their summer road-trips, knowing the type, age and condition of their spare tire means drivers won’t have to find out the hard way when they’re caught in a roadside emergency.
“Many people think because they have never used the spare or because there’s good tread depth, that their spare is in good shape,” says Carey Hull, Kal Tire’s director of retail products. In fact, a March survey shows 92 per cent of drivers claimed their spare tire is in good enough or excellent condition, yet more than one-third also reported their spare tire is six to 10 or more years old. “That’s about the time when you need to ensure you’re inspecting tires for age-related issues, and possibly replacing them.”
The rubber compound of a tire can degrade over time, even if it’s never been used. Several variables can impact tire aging, from how the tire is stored and used to the weather elements it faces.
“Age and/or weather-related problems that could make a tire unsafe aren’t always visible. With four in 10 drivers not checking the condition of their spare in the past year, they’re risking potential tire failure should they have to use the spare tire in the event of a flat,” says Hull.
The Kal Tire survey revealed that Canadian drivers rely heavily on their spare tire as 93 per cent have a spare tire and 79 per cent used it the last time they had a flat. The problem is that 42 percent of drivers have not checked the condition of their spare tire in the past year, and with as many as 35 percent of them experiencing a flat tire over the same period, this is a real problem.
“There are many things that can cause a flat tire. In some cases, the damage is not easily visible and a ‘quick fix’ could result in a dangerous situation at worst or an unrepairable tire at best,” says Hull. “We recommend no quick fixes when it comes to flat tires. Your safest option is a healthy spare.”
Be Spare Aware
1. Have the spare tire inspected by a tire technician whenever the vehicle is serviced, especially before a long road trip. Technicians will look for visible signs of an unsafe tire and ensure the tire is at the recommended pressure.
2. Be mindful of when the tire was made, not when it was purchased.
3. If a vehicle has run-flat tires, know that once the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) illuminates, a general rule of thumb is deflating run-flats can drive 80 km/h for 80 kilometres to reach a service centre.
4. For your safety and to help ensure your tire can be repaired in the future, only use inflator kits and sealants after educating yourself on how and when to use these products.
Consumers now have several options available to them when it comes to selecting a spare tire, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. These include full-size and compact spare tires, run-flat models, and a variety of ancillary products which have been designed to save space.
• Full-size spares: These tires are heavy and bulky and should be incorporated into your regular tire rotation schedule. Since they are typically the same size as the other tires on the vehicle they facilitate getting you back on your way in no time in the event of a flat tire.
• Compact spares: Compact spare tires are often selected by vehicle manufacturers to help reduce weight and increase cargo space. These lightweight units are built to operate at low speed and only for short-term travel. They are for emergency use only and can potentially impact important vehicle features like ABS, traction control and proper speedometer operation.
• Run-flat tires: Fitting a vehicle with run-flat tires frees up space as they do away with the need to carry a spare tire altogether. This reduces vehicle weight and helps increase fuel mileage. Once punctured these tires allow drivers to travel short distances to safety, but it is important to note that not all run-flats are repairable and replacement units can be very costly and difficult to find.
• Ancillary products: There are a number of products out there that take up minimal space and provide an emergency repair solution. These include items such as tire inflator kits or repair kits containing a foam or sealant. Consumers need to consider the usage of these products very carefully as some sealants and foam can have a negative impact on the integrity of the tire.