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RAC rolls out universal spare wheel as 'puncture no spare' call-outs predicted to reach 250,000 by 2015

09 Jan 2014 at 12:21

Following successful trials the RAC is rolling out a universal spare wheel designed to speed up the fix time and minimise inconvenience for members who experience a puncture without having a spare.

By early February all RAC patrols across the UK will be equipped with the wheel which provides a solution to the increasingly common problem brought about by manufacturers not including a spare wheel in their cars as standard.

In 2013, the RAC responded to nearly 94,000 breakdowns involving a puncture on a vehicle with no spare, an increase of 33% on the 71,000 of 2012. However, the motoring organisation predicts this will rise to 120,000 in 2014 and a staggering 250,000 by the end of 2015 which equates to more than one million across the whole UK car parc.

The ‘disappearance’ of the spare wheel has arisen as a result of car manufacturers seeking to improve fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by lessening vehicle weights. As spare wheels are relatively heavy (often weighing as much as 25kg-30kg), removing them from a standard vehicle and making them an optional extra has become increasingly common with manufacturers.

And, with car manufacturers obliged to ensure that average new car emissions do not exceed 130g of CO2 per kilometre by 2015 and 95g by 2020, the spare wheel is unlikely to make a comeback in the foreseeable future.

Although manufacturers provide a tyre inflation kit in place of a spare wheel, these are only suitable for carrying out temporary repairs on punctures up to 4mm and can be daunting to use at the side of the road. RAC patrols attending these breakdowns would firstly try to 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, which fits the majority of cars that don’t have a spare wheel fitted as standard, a quick and effective solution is possible, saving members time. RAC patrols will fit the wheel quickly and liaise with the nearest partner tyre supplier on their behalf to find out what replacements are available. Payment can be taken at the roadside by the RAC patrol, ensuring the customer can drive straight to the tyre centre, or book a mobile fitting at their convenience. The RAC will then arrange collection of the spare directly from tyre centre, avoiding any further hassle.

Developed with specialist manufacturer Dynomec, 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. While the five-stud universal wheel fits a significant proportion of new vehicles sold without a spare, the RAC is also going to be piloting 50 four-stud wheels so that as many vehicles as possible are catered for.

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 believe the RAC universal spare wheel will very quickly become a welcome sight for both individual and corporate members as well as being a major benefit for business customers such as fleet managers who will be able to get their vehicles back on the road more quickly, saving both time and money.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

About RAC

With around seven million members, the RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, buying a used car, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK motorists at a national level, including advancing levels of road safety, supporting the needs of young drivers and voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring. The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring survey, now in its 25th year, provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.

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