I saw a piece in the paper this morning about the fact that more car manufacturers are ditching spare tires and, instead, equipping their cars with runflat tires.
Runflat tires are made with very stiff sidewalls. The theory is that in the event of air loss, those stiff sidewalls will keep the tire from going completely flat. At least for a while. When a tire is punctured or otherwise damaged, a dashboard light goes on warning the driver of catastrophe. He/she then can proceed, at reduced speed, for up to 50 miles before the tire completely overheats and comes apart.
Kind of just makes you shake your head, doesn't it? No spare tire? Really? As if out on our nation's interstate highways, help for a damaged tire always is within 50 miles? Balderdash!
The reasoning, apparently, involves the manufacturers' need to reduce weight wherever they can. Spare tires and wheels, and the accompanying jack and wheel wrench, can weigh - well, what, 20 or 30 pounds or more? That might not seem like much, but it does have an effect on fuel economy.
Burning fuel is the issue because of the federal government's CAFE, or fuel-economy, standards. I'm in favor of those standards. But I wish the result wasn't loss of something as essential as a spare tire.
That said, we have, for at least the last five years, had cars with runflats. No spares.
Laura and I both have covered lots of miles; we're true road warriors. So far I've not had a flat on my car. But Laura has.
She hit a piece of debris on a downtown L.A. freeway one night. It put a hole in one of her car's tires.
She called me, wanting to know what to do. I advised her to call the Auto Club and have her car towed to the nearest tire-repair shop to have the tire patched – and fortunately, though it was late, there were several that were open.
But there's another solution, one I suggested she try first. I've obtained tire-repair kits like the one seen here. We carry them in both cars. The kits each consist of a small compressor that plugs into a cigar lighter, and a can of goop that you inject into the injured tire. The goo seeps into the hole and plugs it.
This stuff works pretty well. And this is exactly what the Auto Club rescue driver did to the tire on Laura's car. She then drove it to a tire repair shop and had the tire patched.
This is all top-of-mind for me today because once again, we're hitting the road. Sunday we will drive Laura's car from SoCal, where she's kept it because she's been down there nearly fulltime, to our new home here in central Oregon. We probably will cover nearly 1,000 miles.
Probably our luck will hold and we won't be troubled by a flat tire. But you never know. That's why I think the $40 cost of these tire-repair kits is a reasonable investment. I just hope we don't have to use it again.
In the meantime, there always is the essential fallback position: A cell phone and an Auto Club card.