It’s been a bit of a bugbear for drivers in recent years-the disappearance of the spare wheel from the boot of their cars. Thanks to legislative pressures, carmakers have been ditching the spare wheel in a bid to save weight and cut the emission levels of their new models.
Many motorists have been caught out by this; not realising that their car doesn’t carry a spare until it’s too late and they are stranded on the side of the road with a flat tyre. With carmakers obliged to hit a fleet average of 130g/km CO2 by 2015, the spare tyre is not likely to make a return anytime soon, especially as it weigh around 25-30kg. But thankfully it seems that the RAC may have a solution.
The breakdown rescue service has begun trialling a universal spare wheel, which fits the majority of cars and can be used as an alternative to the fiddly and often ill-suited puncture repair kits.
Most new cars now come with one of these tyre inflation kits in place of a spare tyre, but they are only suitable to carry out repairs on punctures up to 4mm and can be daunting to use at the side of the road. In the past, RAC patrols attending breakdowns where a car has one of these repair kits, would firstly try and fix the puncture, and, if this was not possible, would then either collect and fit a new tyre or, alternatively, tow the member to the nearest garage, both of which can be time-consuming.
However, with the RAC ‘universal’ spare wheel, promises to be a quicker and effective solution, saving its members time. RAC patrols will fit the wheel quickly and liaise with the nearest ATS Euromaster centre on their behalf to find out what replacements are available. Payment can be taken at the roadside by the RAC patrol, so that the customer can drive straight to ATS Euromaster, or book a mobile fitting at their convenience.
The RAC will then arrange collection of the spare directly from ATS, avoiding any further hassle.
Developed with specialist manufacturer Dynomec working in partnership with tyre expert ATS Euromaster, the five-stud, 17in lightweight alloy multi-fit wheel fits a high proportion of vehicles and will significantly cut down the time spent by members at the roadside, often in potentially dangerous situations such as on the hard shoulder of motorways. Trials are taking place in South West England and Northern Ireland with some 200 patrols carrying the new wheel.
Head of RAC technical operations Phil Ryan said: “The Dynomec universal spare wheel demonstrates how the RAC is at the forefront of providing innovative solutions to help our individual members and business customers get back on the road as quickly as possible after they break down.
“We understand why motor manufacturers need to reduce the weight of their vehicles in order to make them more fuel efficient and to meet EU carbon dioxide emissions targets and removal of the spare wheel helps them to achieve this.
“But drivers should not suffer as a result, and in order to minimise the disruption and inconvenience that punctures can cause, the universal spare wheel provides additional options for patrols to deal with breakdowns more quickly and effectively. We are already seeing very positive results from the trials and we expect the universal wheel to become an increasingly common sight on our roads.”
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