When we think about newer cars, we think about all the technology that goes into them. But we rarely think about the basic things that have changed. Take the lowly spare tire for instance. Which in many cars, doesn’t even exist anymore. Well, to give us some pointers here, we have Tom Taylor, who is an online parts supplier. Tom, welcome to Goss’ Garage.

TOM TAYLOR: Thanks Pat.

PAT GOSS: Alright, so what are some of the trends that you’re seeing these days?

TOM TAYLOR: Well, like you said, some new cars don’t have a spare tire at all. For example this Fiat has a simple air compressor and a sealant system that pumps sealant into the flat tire and hopefully seals it up. Similar to the sealant you might find at a retail store.

PAT GOSS: Ok now there’s certainly a place for these sealants in an emergency. But you have to make sure that the can says it’s “sensor safe” because you’re going to use it in a late model car. If it doesn’t say “sensor safe”, don’t use it.

TOM TAYLOR: Right. You wouldn’t want to damage a $50 sensor with that stuff.

PAT GOSS: Ok now, one of the things we see a lot in the repair shop: somebody goes out and buys a used car and they don’t check what’s in the trunk. We check it out for them and there’s no jack, or any of the tools or anything…what can you help them with there?

TOM TAYLOR: Well, if you find a situation like that, or your car doesn’t come with a spare, you can build your own system. You can get a jack, a lug wrench, maybe a sturdy platform to sit the jack on, and start your system.

And then you can get a wheel that’s the same size as the original wheels on your car; a simple steel wheel, or a wheel that actually matches the aluminum or fancier wheels of your car.  

PAT GOSS: Ok now, either way you go about this, if you just need the jack and lug wrench and so on, that’s really inexpensive, isn’t it?

TOM TAYLOR: Yeah that’s $30, $50. To build a whole spare tire system can be $100-$500, depending on what kind of tire you have and what kind of…if you’re using a steel wheel or a wheel that matches your others.

PAT GOSS: Ok, well most cars these days have this arrangement right here: this is a temporary spare. Any tips?

TOM TAYLOR: Well, they do what they’re supposed to do. They’ve been around a long time. Just be sure to read those warning labels.

PAT GOSS: Ok, well the warning labels talk about speed and distance and most people seem to think that that applies to the rubber tire, but in reality there are problems that can happen to the mechanical parts of the car, if you exceed those limits.  

TOM TAYLOR: Right, the spare may be slightly different diameter than the other wheels, so if you have to go too fast or too long, you can damage the axle or the transmission; could be very costly.

PAT GOSS: Not a smart move. Tom, thank you. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.