Like the rest of a new car's components, the humble spare tyre has come a long way...
As car designers ponder on ways of saving weight or creating more boot space, the regular full-size spare started to become a bit of an inconvenience. Even an alloy spare wheel was quite weighty and indisputably bulky.
So, sometime during the 1980s, car-makers alighted on the idea of changing the status of the spare wheel, downgrading it from “spare” to “temporary.”
Thus began the era of the space-saver wheel/tyre combination. Like the original spare, the space-saver was designed to replace a deflated tyre, but only as a temporary measure. Smaller and lighter, it opened up boot space in many cars, as well as reducing weight – but it was only to be used long enough to get to a repair shop.
Not only was the driver advised to limit speed (usually to a maximum of 80km/h), the space-saver was also only designed to be used for a limited distance. And because of its smaller cross-section and reduced road grip, it also compromised the car’s handling. All these inconveniences were considered to be a worthwhile sacrifice by the car-maker, and the space-saver remains the most common type of spare used today.
Still, today, a new car scores significant brownie points with us if it carries a full-size spare – and even more if it’s an alloy wheel the same as those already on the car.