Government Just Made Your Next Car Less Safe
did a column about the burbling war between the Safety Nazis and
the Mileage Mussolinis (see here).
Well, heres the first casualty:
next new car probably wont come with even a mini-spare
let alone an actual full-size spare tire. The latter has been MIA
from all-but-large-luxury cars (and trucks) for years, partially
because the available trunk real estate of the typical new car is
much less than it was in the past.
But now, as
the automakers scramble to find ways any way
to achieve compliance with the latest round of CAFE federal fuel
economy mandates (set to increase to 34.1 MPG by 2016) the American
Automobile Association reports that even even the downsized mini
spare is being thrown in the woods in favor of run-flat tires and
aerosol cans of Fix-a-Flat tire sealer-inflator (see here).
Because even a mini-spare and the flimsy jacking equipment that
comes with it amounts to 40 or 50 pounds of extra weight. By removing
this weight, the automakers hope to get a fuel economy freebie.
Not a big one, mind. But even a half MPG improvement counts toward
their CAFE averages and even better, it can be done at no
cost to them. The safety of the car is not affected
at least, not in the way that the government defines safety.
Removing the spare and jack doesnt render the car any less
crashworthy so the Safety Nazis are not aroused and the Mieage
Mussolinis are propitiated.
wont be if you end up with a flat that cant be fixed
with Fix-a-Flat (such as a sidewall puncture or tear). And you can
only run so long and far on run-flats. Like mini-spares,
they are not designed for sustained use. They are designed to let
you limp down the road to the nearest tire store thats
But what if
there is no tire store nearby?
the DC Beltway and other major metropolitan areas, it is possible
to find yourself far from a service station or even a tow
truck. What then?
Such a thing
is of course beyond the everyday experience of the Urban-Suburban
Hive that is home to the policymakers who chuck out
edicts such as CAFE hence, it is of no consequence to them.
But it could
have real-world consequences for you.
There are cell
phones, of course. And concierge services such as GMs
OnStar. Neither of which are immediately helpful in the way that
being equipped to slap on a spare and get back on the road in 10
or 15 minutes is. Instead, youre to be left to the good offices
your cell will get a signal. Maybe they will send a truck.
With luck, it will get to you sometime today.
you and yours will sit by the side of the road perhaps a
road in a not-pleasant area, perhaps a highway with lots of traffic
whizzing past, oblivious drivers at the wheel
worth noting that the tire sealant goo ruins the government-mandated
tire-pressure monitors all new cars have (and which you get to pay
for, too). And goop-fixed tires can be dangerous to the technician
who dismounts the damaged tire from the wheel in order to fix it.
So be sure you tell him you used the Fix-a-Flat.
the same soundtrack: Decisions issue forth from Washington. The
effects are felt by you and me and other Ordinaries.
Here is a list
compiled by AAA of new vehicles sold without a spare tire
even a mini spare. It is a long list. And it is going to
increase as we approach 2016 and the 34.1 MPG fuel economy
bar. If youre considering one of these cars, it might not
be a bad idea to buy at least a mini spare (and possibly even a
full-size real spare) from a salvage yard and toss it
in the trunk, for just-in-case. Especially before a long-haul road
trip. Like a fire extinguisher, you may never need it but
youll be ecstatically happy to have one on hand if you ever
do need it. Just be sure to get a spare (mini or otherwise)
that has the correct bolt pattern and will properly fit your car.
You can also buy a small bottle jack and lug wrench for about $30
at any auto parts store.
At least for
now, its not illegal to add these things to a car that didnt
come with them from the factory, courtesy of our favorite pushy
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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