What to Do if You Don't Have a Spare Wheel

Jack Dreyer | Friday 3rd November 2023 12:00pm

A spare wheel in its well in the trunk of a car, next to a first aid kit and tow rope.

Picking up a puncture on the way to work (or on any journey, for that matter) puts a lot of stress on the day – especially if you’re already running late! But worse still, you may have pulled over at a safe place, rummaged through your boot, and found that there’s no spare tyre for you to swap out.

If your tyre is flat, you shouldn’t continue to drive on it because it’s not safe to do so – your car won’t be able to stop and start accurately. Moreover, if the tyre is completely flat, you’re also liable to damage the rim of your wheel and have to fork out a great deal more money for repairs.

So what options do you have left? You don’t necessarily have to call for breakdown assistance immediately – let’s look at what you can do if you don’t have a spare wheel.

Assess whether you should have a spare wheel

The first and most important thing to establish is whether your car should have a spare wheel. While it’s not against the law to drive without a spare wheel on board, and it certainly won’t fail your next MOT test to turn up without one, it’ll give you an indication of whether your car’s likely to be carrying any other form of tyre puncture remedy.

In a bid to save space, lower weight, and improve fuel economy, many modern cars are now shipping without spare tyres but with tyre puncture repair kits. Space saver wheels were practically standard on cars throughout the 1970s to the late 2000s and enabled drivers to quickly swap out a wheel and get to a repair centre as soon as possible.

Most usually, space savers are kept in a fitted recess under the boot and accessed from within the boot. So if you’ve emptied your boot, found that there is a space for a space-saver but no wheel, then you may unfortunately be out of luck!

If you’re in luck, though, a tyre puncture repair kit is likely to be stowed in the same place a space-saver wheel would be or in compartments to the left or right of the boot. This repair kit might come in the form of a foam filler kit – which is inserted via the tyre’s valve stem and hardens into a temporary fix – or as a rubber plug with a ream tool. The latter of these is less common because it’s quite difficult to get an acceptable seal using these at the roadside.

Do you need a spare wheel?

If there’s neither a spare wheel nor a repair kit, the next thing to establish is whether you actually need a spare wheel. Your car may be fitted with tyres called “Run Flat” tyres. These are designed, usually by premium manufacturers, with reinforced sidewalls that let drivers continue driving slowly for up to 50 miles.

Exactly how each manufacturer labels a tyre as “run flat” varies, but look on your tyres’ sidewalls for markings like ROF (“Run on Flat”), EMT (“Extended Mobility Technology”), or ZP/ZPS (“Zero Pressure” or “Zero Pressure System”).

These tyres will let you drive far enough to reach assistance, but you should be aware that you shouldn’t drive faster than 50mph for more than 50 miles as this can make the tyres unsafe. The speed limit can even be lower on some models, so be sure before you get back to driving.

If you have a run flat tyre fitted, you’ll also notice that it’s not flat all the way – assuming you don’t just have a slow-puncture.

A person in a high vis changing a tyre at the side of the road.

Call for breakdown assistance

With all the options exhausted, the only one you’re left with is to call for roadside assistance. If you’re in a suitable space, a technician can either repair your tyre in situ or tow your vehicle to a local repair centre.

Stay on top of your tyre condition

While punctures can happen to the best tyres at the worst of times, the best way to keep nasty surprises to a minimum is to get regular checkups and servicing from the dependable experts at your local Kwik Fit centre – why not even combine a full service with an MOT?

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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