Spare Car Tires Being Replaced by Air Pumps

Changing a spare tire on your car could soon be a thing of the past, with a growing number of automakers in the United States producing new models with liquid tire sealant and a portable electric air pump instead of a spare.

In 2011, 14 percent of new cars that go on sale will drop the extra tire, in a bid by manufacturers to lose pounds and boost fuel efficiency. GM already includes the kit as standard on 17 of its 22 U.S. models.

It's not all roses, however. Although the sealant is effective in a majority of cases, a hole in the tire larger than a quarter of an inch or a puncture on the side of the tire will mean your only option is to get towed. GM has stated the kit can mend 85 percent of punctures, but as Gene Petersen, tire program leader for Consumer Reports magazine, told the Washington Post:

"The last thing you want to do is find out the hard way that you don't have a spare tire if you're stranded on the side of the road."
Despite this view, the automakers appear convinced. By 2025, the car and truck fleet in the US will have to average 54.5 miles per gallon, and manufacturers are clearly exploring all possible avenues to achieve this.

Many point out the sealant and pump solution makes for lighter cars (by about 20 pounds) with more spacious trunks, and argue the sealant is far easier and cleaner to use.

GM says it can still provide a spare on any new model for an additional $100, but which way do you fall on the spare tire debate? Are you happy to lose it and have a lighter car, or keen to avoid a towing?