Some modern cars come with puncture repair kits instead of spare wheels. There are three main reasons for this:
- Save space (meaning a bigger boot)
- Save weight (improves fuel consumption)
- Save money…
Here’s a quick overview of how car tyre puncture repair kits work. (The kit pictured is from a 2008 Ford Focus):
Plug bottle of latex gloop into hole in machine
Connect air hose to wheel
Plug compressor into cigarette lighter/12V socket in car
Sit back and wait while it seals and inflates the tyre
Five or ten minutes after you start, you can drive away…
These kits really do work and they are certainly easier than changing a wheel.
However, they do have a number of disadvantages over a full-size spare wheel and are not even as good as a space-saver spare wheel, in my opinion.
- It’s much quicker, cleaner and easier than changing a wheel – anyone can do this, no physical strength, tools or skills are required.
Unlike a full-size spare wheel, the repaired tyre isn’t as good as new and you will need to replace it ASAP.
If the tyre has a large hole, a cut in the sidewall or a complete blowout, the puncture repair kit probably won’t work – meaning your car needs breakdown recovery to a nearby garage.
You will be limited to a lower speed than usual (perhaps 50mph or less) and even once you have had the tyre replaced, you will need to get a new bottle of ‘gloop’ for your repair kit (they don’t seem to be standardised, so often have to be bought from main dealers). Until you do this, you won’t be able to fix another puncture, unlike with a real spare wheel.
Finally, these repair kits are a bit wasteful and expensive. Not only do you have to buy a new canister of ‘gloop’ once you’ve repaired a puncture (often £30-£50), but many tyre places don’t like to repair (plug) tyres that have been sealed and insist on replacing them, instead. A new tyre is much more expensive than having a tyre plugged (although not all punctures can be plugged, anyway).