Whether larger or more compact, a car always has limited room, especially that for spare parts. Some drivers stow smaller parts like fan belts and replacement light bulbs in the boot to keep them handy, others only worry when the need comes up. One replacement part that is absolutely essential – and is in fact a legal necessity in many countries – is a spare tyre, that can be fitted should you get a puncture.

Where to find your spare wheel

Spare wheel kits are mostly found in the boot of a car but the stowage area may also be in the front on some, more exotic cars such as Volkswagen Beetles. Wherever your stowage area is, your spare wheel might be hidden underneath a cover and in a large indent in the bodywork. It may be held in place by a large bolt which prevents it from moving around.

Some vehicles, such as the 4x4 cars like a Land Rover and other off-road vehicles may have the spare wheel affixed to the rear door or even the bonnet. A spare wheel in this position may have a spare wheel cover in place to protect it. 

In turn, in the case of smaller cars such as the Peugeot 206, manufacturers save space by placing the spare wheel in an especially-designed basket under the rear of the car. Mind that some of the new cars may not have a spare wheel at all. To save space and extra weight, manufacturers equip such vehicles only with a car tyre puncture kit. Replacing a wheel will not be an option in this case so it’s worth knowing how such puncture repair kits work.

Before you drive a car, and especially if you are unfamiliar with the vehicle, you should locate the spare parts and any tools needed to replace the wheel.

Front view of bus with spare wheel

Types of spare wheels

In the past, the spare wheel was usually an exact replica of the other four wheels on the car, and was easily identifiable. However, there is a growing trend for so-called ‘space saver’ spare wheels which are a much thinner version and normally placed on a steel rim rather than the alloy rims that you may have as the standard versions around your car.

A space saver wheel has a much thinner tyre and is inflated to higher pressures than your standard wheel so that it is able to save space while still supporting the car properly if fitted. A space saver spare will normally be inflated to a tyre pressure of around 60psi (4.1 bar) while your standard tyres are usually inflated to just 28psi (1.9 bar).

The steel wheel is usually black and will be marked to state that the wheel should not be used at speeds above 50mph (80kph). Therefore, if you have the spare wheel fitted, you must keep your speed down.

Young woman rolling spare wheel

Be prepared to use a spare wheel

Your spare wheel is there as an emergency measure in case one of your normal wheels gets flat or punctured. A punctured tyre is normally unusable until the puncture has been fixed or the tyre replaced. Until that can be arranged, you will need to fit the spare wheel to allow you to continue to use the vehicle.

If you experience a puncture, get the vehicle off the road and onto some flat, solid area where you can safely attend to the car. Follow the right sequence of steps for correct wheel removal and replacement with the spare tyre.

Why you should have a spare wheel

Remember that your car tyres are the four crucial parts that literally keep you on the road. The failure of even one of them usually means that you will not be able to proceed. Having a spare tyre gives you at least a chance of continuing your journey so remember it should be checked regularly to ensure that it is in a good, roadworthy condition.