Cigarette lighters and ashtrays have disappeared from vehicles. And it might take a special request if you still want a CD player.
There’s another vanishing feature that Dottie and Ed Akers discovered the hard way when a blowout forced them to pull off the highway.
“There was no spare tire,” Dottie told me, a fact she did not recall hearing when they took delivery of the car.
And this is a brand-new Cadillac with under 600 miles on the odometer.
“The majority do not have an actual spare tire anymore,” confirmed Dave Crockford, general sales manager at Boucher Cadillac of Waukesha where Dottie and Ed leased the SRX, a crossover SUV.
According to AAA, this trend over the past several years reached a level of one-third of 2015 vehicles sold without a spare tire. And the disappearing act is still gaining momentum as automakers try to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel mileage.
“Most consumers don’t know how to change a spare. If they’re buying a luxury car, they don’t want to change it. The car comes with six years or 70,000 miles of roadside assistance,” Crockford said.
This week, I looked in the trunk of my 2011 Toyota Camry and was relieved to see a spare tire. As a former auto mechanic, I’m pretty sure I could figure out the jack and change a flat tire. I’d rather not have to, of course.
On a snowy day last month, Dottie, nearly 80, and Ed, 82, had just left Madison on their way home to Brookfield. They noticed a thumping sound that worsened to scraping. They exited at Cottage Grove and pulled into a gas station that didn’t provide much in the way of auto service. They could not reach roadside service.
A man pulled up behind them in a pickup truck and noticed their plight.
“This gentleman was kind enough to say he would change the tire, but there was no tire. We were stuck,” Dottie said.
Their daughter came to pick them up and take them home. They left the car at the gas station.
“Boucher was awesome. We got a tow truck and they pulled it back the next day and fixed it up and didn’t charge us anything,” Dottie said.
Instead of a spare, their vehicle — and many vehicles now — came with a tire inflater kit that enables you to seal the puncture and inflate the tire. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for sidewall punctures or a blowout like this couple experienced.
“If there’s a blowout, that inflater kit is going to be just dead weight in the vehicle,” said Nick Jarmusz, spokesman for AAA Wisconsin. To add to the problem, the kit needs to be replaced every four to eight years.
AAA argues that the fuel savings is minor and is urging carmakers to bring back a spare tire in every vehicle.
“When you go to buy a vehicle, you can’t assume it’s going to come with a spare anymore,” Jarmusz said. “We’re very concerned about this for all the reasons this couple unfortunately learned the hard way.”
AAA has compiled a list of vehicles up through 2015 sold without a spare tire. It includes models by Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Porsche, Ram, Saturn, Scion, Smart, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Apparently, they can’t spare a spare. As far as Dottie is concerned, people need to know this.
Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org