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Do I need a spare tire?

I just bought a new Fiat 500.

The salesman neglected to mention that it didn’t have a spare tire. They have a “compact spare” as an extra cost option which was not included in the one I bought.

All I have is an electric tire pump that shoots gunk into the tire… Is this sufficient or should I buy the compact spare?

If I were you, I would buy the compact spare.
If you “shoot gunk” into a tire in order to seal a puncture, that gunk later has to be cleaned out of the tire, as it tends to produce some serious balance problems.

Some tire shops will charge a hefty fee for that messy, unpleasant cleaning task, so you are not really saving any money in the long run by relying on Fiat’s Rube Goldberg approach to dealing with a flat tire.

Incidentally, if Fiat/Chrysler sends you a survey regarding your purchase experience, I would suggest that you make a specific comment regarding the salesman’s “oversight”, as well as this Rube Goldberg approach that they are using.

I’ve carried a can of flat fix (and cell phone) in all my cars for the last 15+ years and have not changed a flat tire since. Do you want to deal with changing a tire on the highway, at night, while it’s raining? Me neither.

Two things:

First off, flat tires are rare.
When was the last time you actually had a flat tire on your car, while driving it?
Only once, and that was back in '93 or '94, did I actually have a flat while driving on the highway, and I had to change over to the spare tire.
Every other time, I was home, and noticed the tire was low on pressure, was able to inflate it, and drive to a shop to have it fixed.

Second, your car has Roadside Assistance for 4 years, if I remember correctly.
You call them up, and hope they arrive quickly, to tow you to the nearest tire shop, to get you up and running.

But yes, for that extra piece of mind, having that spare tire in the car is a good thing.


Whoa, opinions both ways here.
your choice.

At our ford dealer the Focus’ started showing up without spares a couple years ago. No one…
NO ONE wanted to buy one without a spare tire albeit a space saver.
We took out over 87 fixaflat pumps and replaced every one with spare tires, then the sales department learned which box to check to get spares when ordering inventory.

Out here in the four corners Navajo reservation desert I can’t name a flat tire that was repairable with fixaflat.
Customers too know better and want spare tires.

Of the flats I’ve had, only the slow leakers ( nail/screw stays in the tire ) would have been fix-a-flat-able, but then they were also driveable to get repaired .

When the vehicle has tire pressure sensors,
Don’t use fix-a-flat unless you are fully prepared to buy a new sensor too.

We also have a car without a spare tire; has the pump and gunk. I shudder to think of what could be if we had a flat tire while riding through downtown Chicago in a snowstorm. I could install a full size or a compact spare but would likely not be happy installing the gunk, hoping that it would work if the puncture was large and not at the bottom of the tire as parked. If it happened, I would be happy to move forward slightly to get a large puncture located at the bottom if I could locate the puncture. Could I do that in a snowstorm on the side of the road in a place such as downtown Chicago next to noisy, heavy traffic? I just don’t know.

I don’t believe that the long term outlook for new cars supplied with no full size or compact spare tire looks positive; I for one will never be comfortable with that.

Do you want to deal with changing a tire on the highway, at night, while it’s raining? Me neither.

That is why you have the cell phone. You don’t even need to get out of the car.

I’d be more comfortable with a spare tire. The fix-a-flat stuff only works on smaller holes, not a gash from, say, driving over a piece of metal. I’d also be concerned about damage to the tire pressure sensor from using it.

Regardless, with such small cookie cutter tires in a car designed for the city where it’s impossible in traffic to avoid potholes I would do the following. Make sure you keep tires properly inflated and inspected often for damage. Change tires before they reach the wear bars. I feel you have a greater chance getting a flat from hitting an obstruction or pothole than through a puncture. Don’t drive too far from home especially where streets are unfamiliar or carry a lot of weight. With 185/55 R 15 rubber, there is very little distance between the tread and the rim.

I know it’s too late, and apologize for being negative. but these cars have little appeal for me where compacts the size of a Focus or Corolla get nearly as good gas mileage and have much larger footprints on the road. If you keep the car more than three years, let us know. Yes, get the spare.

You definitely need a spare tire. You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a mangled fourth tire and nothing to replace it with.

What’s really funny is when people feel they need the spare but don’t bother with a jack and lug wrench. If you are truly in the middle of nowhere there isn’t going to be any road service, and if there were you could have just had a tow in the first place!

A spare tire is like insurance. You hope you never need it, but when you do nothing else will substitute.

Today, when a radial tire goes flat at any kind of speed, there is usually nothing left to inflate…

Knowing your wheel bolt-pattern size, (they are all kind of standard) perhaps you could find a usable “compact spare” at a salvage yard much cheaper than at the dealership…

Having some experience with Fiats, I would say the spare tire is the LEAST of your worries.

Hey, I saw one of these and thought it looked pretty cool. Maybe the OP will love the car.

Speaking as a woman who has had two flat tires in the span of a year (chuckholes that couldn’t be dodged or avoided) the money you spend NOW will be worth it just in case you find yourself on the side of the road cussing over the fact you don’t have one when you need it.

For heaven’s sake buy the spare and throw that can of junk away. Use that stuff and a lot of places won’t even work on the tire due to the mess.

Yes flat tires are rare but the do happen and generally when you least want them. I can’t recall the one before but last week we were driving back from Ohio to Minnesota with a stop in Springfield for the Lincoln museum. About 30 miles out and about 6:00 at night, might tire pressure light went on. I was down to 24 pounds. Next exit I pumped it up again and was losing a pound or two every five minutes. Luckily I made it into Springfield and happened by the Walmart who were still open till 8:00. Somewhere in the past 50 miles I had picked up a 2 1/2 inch screw.

I avoided having to change the tire but just by shear luck and timing. That kind of a screw could have easily ruined the tire or caused an immediate flat and would have been stuck on the freeway in inclement weather at night waiting for a tow. As long as crap is still falling off of or out of cars and trucks, you need a spare.

So your example of how you did NOT need a spare is reason for the OP to get one?

We all have too much free time on our hands. Just a little venting.

I’ve personally driven over 1 million miles…and I’ve a total of 4 flats in all that time. And thankfully I had a spare when I did.