Don’t Spare the Spare . . .

If you’ve looked inside the trunk of any car built since the early 2000s the first thing you’ll notice is there’s not much in the trunk.

Where’s the spare?

It’s gone!

You might find a “space-saver” tire under the trunk floor but this isn’t a real spare because a spare is by definition another item exactly like the one it replaces. Space-saver tires do not replace flat tires. They temporarily (it’s right there on the warning label) enable you Best Price: $21.13 Buy New $31.97 (as of 08:30 EST - Details) to get back on the road – but just barely, no more than about 50 miles – in order to gimp the car – at no more than about 50 MPH – to the closest-available tire store in order to get the damned thing off the car and get a real tire put back on.

So you can resume driving normally – and safely.

The reason you can’t drive normally or safely on the temporary-use-only space-saver tire is chiefly because of mismatch. Classic Accessories 75... Best Price: $10.94 Buy New $11.76 (as of 11:05 EST - Details)

In order to “save space,” the temporary-use-only spare is very skinny relative to the tire it temporarily replaces. The same diameter as the others but often less than half the width. This means the car is a three-legged dog, with one contact patch that’s barely contacting anything. It makes for weird handling and braking – which is why the many yellow warning stickers on the space-saver tire about it being for temporary-use-only and admonishing you to not drive faster than 50 MPH and not much farther than 50 miles.

It is interesting that the government allows this. But then, it is the government which is responsible for creating this dangerous situation. Lifeline 4330AAA Black... Best Price: $23.24 Buy New $24.99 (as of 08:05 EST - Details)

The reason why most cars built since the early 2000s do not have full-size spares that match the other tires on the car and which when mounted permit you to drive as far as you need to go and without weird/dangerous handling/braking issues has to do with the government’s mania about making (by mandate) cars more “efficient.”

Whether decreeing the gas mileage the cars we buy deliver is any of the government’s legitimate business – in a supposedly free society – is a whole ‘nother question but the fact remains the government does decree it. And that means the car companies must comply with it. If they don’t, fines descend – and these are then passed on to us, to punish us for buying cars that the government thinks use “too much” gas.

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