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Old 9th March 2018, 13:13   #1
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Default Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

Do we really need the spare wheel to be a full size alloy?

The poor, stifled, and often ignored spare wheel in/on/under the boot. In the times of tubeless and run-flats, self-sealing tyres, TPMSs and air pumps, where the puncture doesn't command an immediate response, do we really need the spare wheel to be a full size alloy? Let's make the case.

Against; or, we really don't need the 5th wheel to be the same as the 4 main wheels:
  • Cost: the humble, rakish steel wheel obviously costs less than the full sized alloy. Pass on the savings, esť.
  • Space: we can have a somewhat larger usable boot if the spare wheel is the (brilliantly named) space-saver.
  • Ignored: the 5th wheel largely sits in the boot unused for most of its life, which is a waste of a perfectly good wheel and tyre.
  • Complicated rotations: a 4 wheel rotation is simple, intuitive, and doesn't make you come up with diagrams, equations to solve, and you don't have to keep track. Just ask the guys to rotate the wheels, front to back, everytime you visit the dealership for service. A 5 wheel rotation and you might as well be solving for the circumference of a complex blob that's dangling in the wind. Ugh.
  • Weight: the space saver is also a weight and effort saver. It would certainly be easier for the tyre changer to lift the wheel out of some atrociously deep boot lips if it were lighter.
  • Changing tyres is still a crappy experience: no matter how much a car has improved in all other ways, changing a tyre has largely remained the same shitty experience, with the same brute jacks and levers and wrenches. Ugh.
  • Changing tyres on the road is dangerous: is that bus driver, or the bike rider going to give two hoots about your car being immobile while you swelter in the heat on a bright, sunny, scorching, clear day? No they won't. No, they won't.
  • Tubeless punctures are a breeze to patch: It takes all of 3 minutes and nearly everyone can do it. And, I know that there's many here who advise to get the puncture repaired 'from inside', but really, does it make a difference? The quick, regular, simple repair works nearly just as well, if not just as well.
  • Guilt: I also feel guilty that the perfectly capable, equally usable spare just sits there, without being called for its, erm, Call of Duty.

In my experience, if I do think there's a puncture and the tyre isn't completely flat, I'd drive around the corner and get the puncture fixed, without wanting to change the tyre at all. If it is completely flat, I'd pump it and then drive around the corner to get the puncture fixed. No fuss, no muss.

For; or we really need the 5th wheel to be the same as the 4 main wheels:
  • Looks kinda sucky: When a car is moving on a space saver, it really does look weird. Eh.
  • Speed limitation: You have to follow a certain speed limit when you're on the space saver. Which, to be honest, isn't that much lower compared to speed limits on most of our roads. Plus, it is temporary.
  • Change twice: In the event that you do need to change your main wheel, you'd have to change it again when you get the main wheel repaired. Which, many probably do even with a full sized spare or it might, in the words of Albert the gentleman, "mess up the rotations"

Questions:
Q: Hey ach1lles, what about cars like the Ecosport, where the spare is a part of the body. A space saver would look ridiculous!
A: Use the spare cover, which you should anyway to preserve the wheel rubber somewhat.
Q: What if I damage the rim/tyre beyond repair?
A: Call the dealership and have them bring over a full size spare, which would be fine because you now need to spend for it, instead of having to spend for it and not needing it.
Q: What if I want to go off-roading?
A: Sure, your spare wheel sits below the car so you're screwed anyway. Get the full sized spare wheel.
Q: Yo ach1lles, all your "against" points are idiotic, don't make sense, and you're a moron.
A: I'm sure you're right and I'm sorry I made you sit and compulsorily read through this post.

Clearly, because I'm not very smart, I've missed out on a few points. What do you guys think? Please chime in.

Last edited by ach1lles : 9th March 2018 at 13:15. Reason: Title
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Old 9th March 2018, 13:25   #2
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

You need a full size spare. I don't care if its alloy or steel, but given the road conditions, its best to err on the caution. Even if you never end up using the spare, during an emergency, you will definitely miss one. Weight and space saving is negligible at best. Unless of course you have a track focused car with plastic windshields, carbon fibre doors and all seats removed except the driver's.

During my Spiti trip, I bent one of my alloys in a nasty pothole and completed the remainder of the trip on my spare wheel. Approx 2650 km of 4400 odd km were done on the spare wheel. My alloys are 16-inch rims with 195 section tyres, while the spare is a 15-inch rim shod in 195 section tyre. As the width of the tyres was same, I was not worried much, but I restricted my self to a maximum of 80 km/h on the spare wheel. I would have definitely been more confident if it was a steel wheel with same size.
Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?-img_0647.jpg


EDIT - Responding in detail.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ach1lles View Post
Do we really need the spare wheel to be a full size alloy?
No, even a full size steel rim will do.

Quote:
[*]Changing tyres is still a crappy experience: no matter how much a car has improved in all other ways, changing a tyre has largely remained the same shitty experience, with the same brute jacks and levers and wrenches. Ugh.
Takes less than 5 mins if you know what you are doing.

Quote:
[*]Guilt: I also feel guilty that the perfectly capable, equally usable spare just sits there, without being called for its, erm, Call of Duty.
Thats its function, its there for emergencies.

Quote:
In my experience, if I do think there's a puncture and the tyre isn't completely flat, I'd drive around the corner and get the puncture fixed, without wanting to change the tyre at all. If it is completely flat, I'd pump it and then drive around the corner to get the puncture fixed. No fuss, no muss.
Not all places have puncture repair shops round the corner.

Quote:
For; or we really need the 5th wheel to be the same as the 4 main wheels:
Yes. see below -

Quote:
[*]Speed limitation: You have to follow a certain speed limit when you're on the space saver. Which, to be honest, isn't that much lower compared to speed limits on most of our roads. Plus, it is temporary.
Speed I agree, but it totally screwed up my alignment when I used the spare wheel for a long time.

Quote:
A: Call the dealership and have them bring over a full size spare, which would be fine because you now need to spend for it, instead of having to spend for it and not needing it.
It took a while for my alloy to come via insurance. So much so that I had done almost 5,000 km on the spare. Since the rim was bent, it was not a matter of just replacing the tyre. Also I couldn't source 98 PCD 16 x 6.5j steel rim for temporary use.

Last edited by blackwasp : 9th March 2018 at 13:48.
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Old 9th March 2018, 13:39   #3
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

I think manufacturers are increasingly agreeing with your viewpoint. More and more models now come with space saver steel rim spares. Companies like VW and Skoda have had a space saver spare for a long time now. The main guys like Maruti/Hyundai are slowly following.

Personally, in my 4+ years of usage, I have never used the spare. As you mentioned, tubeless tyres and portable air pumps take care of a lot of the regular puncture situations.

But for folks who do a lot of long distance driving-Especially to relatively remote areas, I guess it will be more important to have a full size spare. More peace of mind.

Overall, it is just a cost saving technique by manufacturers. I don't see much 'space saving' or any other big benefits for the owner. I doubt the cost savings are passed on to the owner in any way.

Last edited by Rajeevraj : 9th March 2018 at 13:40.
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Old 9th March 2018, 13:49   #4
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

Three cars in our family -

1. VW Vento 2014 model - Spare wheel never used. Couple of punctures which were sorted without having to change the wheels. Just sitting idle.

2. Hyundai Creta 2015 model - Spare wheel never used. Not even a single puncture.

3. Hyundai Grand i10 2015 model - Spare wheel never used. One recent puncture but no need to change the wheel.

Yes, we should have rotated the tyres more aptly but I guess you don't really need a full size spare wheel. Space savers should work as long as you don't do off-roading or have lots of highway runs.
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Old 9th March 2018, 13:50   #5
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

IMO full size spare always makes sense.

Let's take my own case,
Previous cars : Honda City ZX with 5 x 14" alloys & Fiat Linea with 5 x 15" steel
Current car : Nissan Sunny with 4 x 15" alloys + 1 x 14" steel

In cars with all 5 same spec tires (& wheels) I used to do a proper rotation periodically and all 5 wear uniformly. With the current car, spare is left unused for 4 years & 50k on odo. Net result, I will be throwing out the unused spare in less than couple of years and go for 15" alloy or one more 14" tire

Proper tire rotation with a full sized spare should give additional 15~20% tire life (rough figures, considering the life of spare as well)

Other factors,
Cost : hardly the benefit is passed to the customer.
Weight : Difference is nothing more than 15kg and hardly that matters. Less than the weight difference of Full tank fuel to half tank.
Complicated rotation : Not at all
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Old 9th March 2018, 13:56   #6
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

IMO the spare must be a full size tyre. It may be fitted on a steel wheel to save cost.
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Old 9th March 2018, 14:01   #7
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

I think a full-size spare wheel makes more sense unless the cost saved is passed on to the customer.

I have a Hyundai i20 Active, ran approx 78,000 km. No punctures to date. Changed all 4 tyres at 45,000 km. Spare still sitting in the boot since cannot be rotated or used.
Had this been a regular full-sized tyre, it would have been put to better use instead of sitting in the boot and doing nothing.

Also, the bigger concern is that in case I do need to use the spare wheel someday, I am not sure if the tyre would actually be in a state where I can use it as a regular tyre.
So all said and done, bad idea to give a smaller tyre which is hardly used. Either give a regular sized tyre which can be used regularly and rotated along with other tyres or don't give a tyre at all, similar to some of the western countries.
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Old 9th March 2018, 14:26   #8
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

I consider a full size spare wheel as important as Airbags.
I need it rather than want it in case of emergency.
Cannot imagine driving a car without a proper spare wheel, it's incomplete and will bother me for the entire drive.
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Old 9th March 2018, 14:59   #9
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by speedmiester View Post
I consider a full size spare wheel as important as Airbags.
I need it rather than want it in case of emergency.
Cannot imagine driving a car without a proper spare wheel, it's incomplete and will bother me for the entire drive.
Exactly. Driving without a spare feels akin to driving without insurance. I won't be able to enjoy any long drive if you tell me that there is no spare tyre in the boot.

I hate the fact that many expensive cars come without a full size spare and in some cases, no spare . Some of these big tyre sizes are not easily available in non metro towns. So if you have damaged your tyre beyond repair, your only option is to have your tyre supplier ship it to where you are or take the risk of driving back 'langda' on the biscuit spare, like I did with the added mental tension of knowing that you have no further back up.

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Old 9th March 2018, 15:55   #10
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Default re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

Take my money and give me a full size spare tyre on a steel rim.

Let me explain, I was on my way back from Jodhpur to Pune. It must have been 10ish in the night, I was some where around vadodara. I was travelling with my wife and it was raining, heavily.

The vehicle was then 2 years old, 20K ran. No history of punctures. As destiny would have it, one of the rear tyre chose to give up on us - flat with no air(Tubless). With no puncture repair shop visible, I got down to the business. Of course I had to empy the boot, had to ask the better half(Killer half for that moment-It is me who requested her for this road trip) to hold the torch for me while getting drenched.

At the end, we managed to change the tyre and could reach our destination safely. Had it not been that spare wheel, I shudder to think what would have happened. I love you, my spare wheel.
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Old 9th March 2018, 17:36   #11
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Default Re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

I have a digital tyre inflator and puncture kit in my car, still, I am never comfortable without a spare wheel during long distance drives

For me, a flat tyre(Puncture) is not a big issue but I am always worried about the damaged rim or tyres. I did many long distance trips by my humble 2003 Santro. Faced many situations, where I had to use my spare wheel due to damaged tyres in remote areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand. I am not convinced by the idea of space saver tyre in the car. IMHO, a spare tyre should be there and it should be a full(regular) sized tyre.
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Old 12th March 2018, 09:39   #12
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Default Re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

There are two questions here:

1. Is a full-size spare tyre a must? Absolutely yes! For one, you can continue driving at the same speed (space savers come with speed restrictions). Second, a space saver can be dangerous, especially in an emergency manouveur or in the hands of a layman who doesn't understand that differently sized tyres on the same axle destroy handling. Safety is the main reason that a full-sized spare tyre should be mandatory by law.

2. Is a 5th alloy wheel a must? Yes for some people, no for most. I belong to the former category and have gone through great pains to ensure that I got a 5th alloy even when shopping in the after-market (where sets of 4 are the norm). My Jeep, City Vtec & Civic all got their custom rims in sets of 5. Reason = I keep my cars for long and if a rim gets damaged in its 5th year, I doubt I'd be able to source the same design again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
I think manufacturers are increasingly agreeing with your viewpoint. More and more models now come with space saver steel rim spares.
Manufacturers have made it a habit to ditch the full-size spare because of:

1. Cost.

2. Weight saving. The easiest way to cut the kerb weight of a new model is to remove the spare wheel entirely (many have done it in Europe and some fools did it in India too).

3. Space & packaging. Bigger boot, more room for hardware in the trunk (battery, parts for electrification etc.).
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Old 12th March 2018, 10:21   #13
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Default Re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

Fully agree with the view that a car should have 5 wheels of the same specifications; the spare being a steel rim vs the main four having alloys, being the only concession.

Our country can throw up unique surprises, be it generous potholes or nails strewn deliberately on the roads. You simply cannot compromise on your safety if your car has to be driven with one wheel smaller than the other three. The cost benefit (decrease in weight, increased cargo space due to lack of a full-size spare) is not worth it. Nor can/should you compromise on convenience if you get stranded because your car lacks the spare wheel in the first place!
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Old 12th March 2018, 10:26   #14
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Default Re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
There are two questions here:
1. Is a full-size spare tyre a must? Absolutely yes! For one, you can continue driving at the same speed (space savers come with speed restrictions). Second, a space saver can be dangerous, especially in an emergency manouveur or in the hands of a layman who doesn't understand that differently sized tyres on the same axle destroy handling. Safety is the main reason that a full-sized spare tyre should be mandatory by law.

2. Is a 5th alloy wheel a must? Yes for some people, no for most. I belong to the former category and have gone through great pains to ensure that I got a 5th alloy even when shopping in the after-market (where sets of 4 are the norm). My Jeep, City Vtec & Civic all got their custom rims in sets of 5. Reason = I keep my cars for long and if a rim gets damaged in its 5th year, I doubt I'd be able to source the same design again.
Thank you for acknowledging the two thoughts being concurrently expressed in this thread: spare alloy wheels, and full sized tyres.

I agree with you on on point #1, and when it comes to #2, I find that I also am in the former category. All alloys - for looks as well as retaining the design.

The only exception for non standardized looks would be if I got the alloys that Ken Block uses in his Gymkhana series, wherein one of them is a different colour.
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Old 12th March 2018, 11:13   #15
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Default Re: Four's a wheelie, Five's a waste : Is a matching spare wheel a necessity?

One: I expect the car to be as close to stock as possible even when it has to run on a spare. So space savers are out and if the stock wheels are alloy, the spare be an alloy too.

Two: The manufacturers don't drive my car, I do. So I must have a choice whether I want to go for a space saver or a full sized spare.

It's like a fire extinguisher. I have never had to use one in my car, but I would never go for a pocket sized one just because I never have had to use it. It must be the proper size.
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