The Spare Tire
Have you checked your vehicle's spare tire recently? Depending on your vehicle you may have a full size spare, a temporary spare or no spare at all. Knowing what to expect in the event of a flat tire will mean avoiding inconvenience or being stranded at the roadside.
Full Size Spare
If your vehicle comes equipped with a full size spare tire you well prepared to look after a tire failure. The usual drawback here is having forgotten to check the pressure regularly and finding it low or flat itself.
Knowing where to find and how to use the jack and tools before a flat occurs is a good practice as well.
One cannot use it to replace a flat tire and carry on as normal. The owner's manual for my vehicle says "The compact spare is for temporary emergency use...the original tire should be repaired (or replaced) and reinstalled at the first opportunity."
It goes on to specify the correct inflation pressure for the tire and a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h when using it. It also warns about reduced ground clearance and cautions that the driver must be aware of this.
The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations reinforce the importance of using this spare tire as little as possible. They allow the use of the temporary spare only if the driver makes arrangements immediately to repair or replace the original tire.
Drivers who neglect to deal with the situation immediately may be subject to a fine and the possibility of having their vehicle removed from the highway until such time as an adequate tire has been installed in place of the temporary spare.
Many vehicles today come without a spare tire of any kind. Manufacturers have omitted the spare, jack and tools in order to save weight and improve the model's fuel consumption ratings. This leaves you at the mercy of roadside assistance services unless you are prepared to help yourself.
Having run flat tires on your vehicles are an option, but they do tend to be more expensive and offer a rougher ride.
You may choose to carry a full size spare and the necessary tools either full time or just when you are taking a longer trip. Tire sealants and a compact compressor are also an option if the tire damage is a simple puncture.