Spare Tires Get Shortchanged

When buying a new car, you usually don't spend much time thinking about the tires. And many of us don't spend much time thinking about them after we buy a car either.

But Consumer Reports says many owners are in for a big surprise when they get that first flat.

Needing a tow is a pretty miserable experience.

Michael Rotanelli, a tow truck driver says, "Two to three times a day we get calls on the highway to service people that have a flat."

Think you're prepared? Consumer Reports says maybe not.

For one-the standard spare and jack are no longer a given.

Jennifer Stockburger of Consumer Reports says, "Auto manufacturers are always looking to optimize passenger and cargo space and to reduce the overall weight of the car to improve fuel economy. Eliminating the spare tire is an easy way to get both."

This Hyundai Accent comes with just a small air compressor and a sealant kit to help fix a flat tire-no spare.

Stockburger says, "The problem is that these kits don't work if the damage to the tire is in the side wall area. In that case, you'd be stranded until someone could come and help you.'

And that help will cost you.

Michael Rotanelli says, "If you don't have a spare or your spare is flat, there is absolutely nothing we can do for you other than to two you."

Then there are run-flat tires--designed to let you keep driving after a puncture.

Stockburger says, "You won't be stuck on the side of the road having to change a tire. But they can be more costly to replace, and they're sometimes not as readily available as a standard tire."

Consumer Reports says owners of vehicles like the Mazda 3 and the Subaru Impreza are in for a surprise when they get new tires.

Turns out these lower-priced cars come with performance tires that are very expensive to replace.

And while they offer better braking and handling, they also wear more quickly.

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