Wheel deal: Can you fix a flat?

2012-04-30 13:17

LONDON, England - New research shows many drivers are ill-prepared for a puncture: an astonishing 1.3-million (four percent) in the UK admitted they didn't even know if they had a spare wheel.

The study, carried out for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive repair company, found that a million (3%) drivers confessed to not having any provision whatsoever for a flat tyre. With an estimated 8.8-million (26%) having suffering a puncture each year this could lead to a quarter-million cars stranded at the roadside in the next 12 months.

And it’s not just the rubber that’s missing in some cars -10% (2.9 million) of drivers who do carry a spare say they don’t have the jack or spanner to change a wheel; 36% (11.6 million) have the tools but don’t know what to do with them; 6% (1.8 million) are short on both fronts - no tools and no knowledge.


There also seems to be confusion as a result of automakers no longer offering full-size spares wheels. One in 10 people (3.3 million) who have a spare don’t know whether it’s full-size or a low-speed space-saver, which could prove hazardous if a blow-out happens on a long motorway journey.

Some manufacturers offer neither a full size spare nor a space saver, instead providing a puncture repair kit. More than four-million drivers (11%) have such a kit but the vast majority of them (3 million) don’t rely on the kit alone and also carry a spare.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “The recent trend among car manufacturers to offer a space-saver or repair kit instead of a proper wheel could be the cause of this confusion. It’s worrying how many drivers don’t know what provision they have for a puncture, but it’s even more of a concern to see how many have absolutely nothing in their car to deal with a deflated tyre.

“For those who've recently bought a second-hand car it’s also important that they assess the condition of the spare - there could be damage that isn’t obvious at a glance and if it hasn’t been checked in a while it’s likely to be underinflated.

“There are clearly gaps in knowledge around how to change a tyre. Changing a wheel is a skill that all drivers should have and if anyone isn’t confident enough to do so they can visit their local Kwik Fit centre and the team will happily show them.”