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Old 12-12-2012, 01:48 PM   #1
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South of the river , Minnesota
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When was the last time you used the spare tire for your tow vehicle?

Given the overall reliability of tires (leaving aside the problems specific to trailer tires) I'm trying to decide whether to update the spare in my tow vehicle. I carry an air compressor and tire plugs and would only use the spare in the event of a blowout.

I can only remember one occasion in 30 years on the road where I installed a spare. I was driving a friend's Ford Taurus on the tollway in West Virginia and blew the left front tire, which I changed in record time, motivated by the safety problems posed by the heavy traffic.

In my personal experience, for the cost and weight and space involved, carrying a spare alternator would be a better move, odds wise, from a standpoint of being able to continue the journey after mechanical failures.

So, convince me that a spare tire is a good idea!

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Old 12-12-2012, 01:52 PM   #2
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Three times in the last 25 years, that I recall. But two of them were in company vehicles. I drive about 30,000 per year on business, so my exposure is greater than many.


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Old 12-12-2012, 02:04 PM   #3
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It has been years since I have used a spare, but it feels pretty good that I have them on both my truck and Airstream if I need them. Sort of like having insurance, it can seem to be a waste of money until you actually need either.

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:06 PM   #4
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There is a growing trend in new cars not to carry a spare tire for weight, fuel, and cost savings.

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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For my tow vehicle, never. But we've only had it a year and a half.

However, I've used the spare tire in my beloved '99 Cougar often enough that it's going to have to be replaced next time (too many miles), all of those due to road hazards. I also used the spare in my '04 Impala a couple times, due to a nail or screw in the tire.

On our trailer, I've used the spare three times in the year and a half we've owned it! First time was our second trip with it when we blew a tire. Then I had to put it on when we got a nail in a tire (fortunately we discovered the leak at home). Then I had to put it on again when I discovered a huge tear in the sidewall of another tire. The first incident was due to tire age - we'd been led to believe the tires were much newer than they actually were. The second was due to a nail, just bad luck. The third was due to me clobbering a curb with that tire. So two of those were basically avoidable.

Before every trip, I crawl under the truck and trailer and check the spare tire pressures when I'm checking the other tires. The first time I needed it with the trailer, I was glad I had the foresight to check and inflate it! (Yes, I could tow on three...but is it worth the risk?) Usually I check the car tires while I have the compressor out and running, too.

As a '99 Mercury Cougar owner, I found the alternator comment hilarious. They are known for chewing up alternators, so in that car a spare alt probably isn't a bad idea. But that'd be in addition to a spare.

At least carry a can of fix-a-flat. Some Corvettes used to come with that instead of a spare because it was lighter.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:14 PM   #6
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Last time was around 8 years ago. A rock punched a hole in the tire on a forrest road. 5 miles from pavement, 40 miles to the nearest tire shop and no cell coverage. I wound not consider travel without a spare.


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Old 12-12-2012, 02:23 PM   #7
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For me it depends on where I'm going and what I'm doing.

I threw away the spare in my old Mustang years ago. The car only goes out on nice days and never far from home, we've logged 3800km in 3 years, so the chances of having a flat, and being far from help is pretty minimal.

The mini spare in my Flex is useless for towing, and the Tow package acually includes tire sealant and a compressor for this reason, so leaving the spare at home really does make sense although having worked in a tire shop in highschool, I really have a hatred for tire sealant.

Sofar I've never had the Airstream really far from a tire shop, so it has not been a concern since even the smallest towns seem to have a tire machine and a guy in dirty coveralls willing to fix a flat.
If I were travelling accross the desert many miles away from help I'd consider carrying two spares, extra gas, water, food, more tools, spare parts for the truck and trailer and even and extra can of WD40 and roll of DuctTape.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:23 PM   #8
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Once when hooked up to the Airstream. But I was only 50 feet out of the driveway on our dead end street when I took "one more look around". Screw in tire, partially flat. Twice in the last 10 years on my around town truck.

But on the Alaska caravan we had at least 5 and probably more flats on approximately 30TV's and toweds. Generally a sharp, arrowhead like rock straight though the case. They use some awsomely sharp gravel, particularly in the pull off areas. No cell phone coverage for weeks at a time. Lots of people bought tires and upgraded their spares when we got to Anchorage.

You will be looked at as unlucky being towed in for a dead alternator. Being towed in a hundred miles with a flat and no spare to a town that does not stock tires might get a different viewpoint. They can get them on the bus in a few days though.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:43 PM   #9
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Never on my truck. Twice though I've had to plug and pump up a tire. Once I had to plug a tire on our AS. Still, I wouldn't be without a spare. INSURANCE
Roger in NJ

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:50 PM   #10
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York , South Carolina
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Wouldn't leave home without one

The roads are full of junk. Even in this down economy, road construction/repair is everywhere. All kinds of tools and supplies lying around the work zones, just waiting to fall off some work truck, then into a tire. Plus all the folks hauling all kinds of stuff around in their open utility trailers. Seems no one uses the bed of their truck to haul stuff in anymore.

If you carry fan belts, hoses,alternators,tools and such, heck, why not carry a spare too. Most are stored out of the way anyhow.

It falls into that category of "glad I've got one but hope I never need it".

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Old 12-12-2012, 03:11 PM   #11
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Never in 16 years of trailering, but I would no more be without it than I would have been without a parachute in my flying days. I never ejected either, but it was always there.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:51 PM   #12
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My brother-in-law loves to take CA-58 to/from the central coast area. We frequently camp together, and even though he lives 2 blocks from me, we would break up and travel different routes to the same campground. I won't take that road. It's twisty, with long stretches without any cell service. He likes it because there is no one on it (I insist that's because it's a horrible road with 2 good alternatives!). Last time he took it he hit a piece of metal in the road that punctured the sidewall. Normally he would just call AAA, but no cell service for miles in either direction. Changed his own flat and now he doesn't take that road anymore.

We do manage to get outside cell service once in a while though. Another reason I'm keeping the spare, is I probably don't want to wait for AAA to show up, or screw with a plug/patch on the side of the road. I would have that tire changed in 5 minutes and on down the road.

He also got a bad slug of gas somewhere once and limped home late at night with a plugged fuel filter so now we both carry a new ones with us, but that's another thread.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:55 PM   #13
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I have somewhere around a million miles of driving on me.

I can't remember all the way back. But pretty well back to the '90s.

I had two incidents w/ my '92 Chevy 1500 pickup. Once I hit debris in roadway and nursed it home with a bulging sidewall. One other time I had a tire lose air on freeway due to puncture requiring a tire change. These incidents were in the '90s.

Fast forward to my 2004 Camry, I had flat tire on a dirt road near our desert cabin requiring a change.

Several other occasions had nails or slow leaks, but was able to inflate them and get to repair location.

Lots of miles represented in the time frame above. Probably 400,000 or so spanning multiple vehicles. Flat tires have been rare, but still more common for me than alternator failures (one in a Ford pickup since 1990). I still like carrying spare tire even a temporary one.

I've had more trouble with trailer tires by far. Never with the Airstream, I had been burned so often in the past, I changed the tires at ridiculously low mileage.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:58 AM   #14
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The last set of tires on my truck kept the spare unused. This time around with the same brand but a different model, the spare will be rotated in/out of use. As little as I like changing a tire, especially on this nearly 8k truck, the thought of being without one is a non-starter.

As above, for a vehicle that never really leaves a metro area it may not matter so much. For a TV that may be quite a ways away from "home territory", it is another thing altogether. Once I would have carried (and did) spare alternator, water pump, fuel pump, etc, but the quality of those is vastly greater than what we had in the 1960's or '70's.

And while tires are also far better there is no more important system on an automobile than the tires themselves.

I would say that a better question in this line would concern how to change a tire on the side of the road (two-lane, crowned, and while hitched). If any tools, aids or additional equipment is required to make it easier and faster (safer). This would include flashers, flares, Class II safety vest, etc.


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