459K motorists don't have spare tire


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Car makers are eliminating spare tires from new vehicles. That's bad news for drivers, and it lines the pockets of auto makers.

Without a spare tire, a flat tired can be really bad news if you happen to own one of the 30 million late model vehicles in the U.S. that doesn't have a spare. Automakers are cutting back in this way to reduce vehicle weight, and to show the car has more efficient fuel economy. Some cars come with a spare that's designed to only take you up to 100 miles. That can put motorists in danger.

“With low-profile tires and the elimination of spares, many newer vehicles are especially vulnerable to severe damage from potholes,” explained Bruce Jenkins, Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic Emergency Roadside Assistance Fleet Depot. “Tire-inflator kits have limited functionality, and, in the cases of catastrophic damage typical of potholes, the kits can’t provide even a temporary fix for many tire-related problems, such as sidewall damage or blowouts. In 2016 alone, AAA rescued more than 450,000 members faced with a flat tire whose cars did not have a spare tire. Plus, 39 million drivers do not know how to change a flat tire.”

This time of year, potholes are a major factor behind the pandemic of punctured tires on area roadways. Perennially, battery failures, flat tires and key locked inside the vehicle are the topmost reasons for requesting emergency roadside assistance, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic. Of course, not all tire-related calls to AAA are caused by hitting a pothole. But hitting a big pothole can easily damage your tires and trigger an uptick in SOS calls for roadside assistance. Of late, rescuers dispatched by AAA Emergency Roadside Assistance have responded to thousands of calls from members with dead batteries and now, it's the tires.

“Often the result of damage caused by hitting a pothole or running into a curb or another object, a bubble or bulge on the tire sidewall or tread indicates one of the belts inside the tire has separated from those around it,” said James Moore, Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Center. “Replace any tire with this damage as soon as possible.”

Low-profile tires are “more susceptible to blowing out if they hit a pothole or an object in the road.” That humming, thumping clamor and vibrating clangor and katzenjammer can indicate cupping, flat spots on a tire, out-of-balance wheels, or a tire with a separated internal belt, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic Automotive.

Motorists file about 500,000 auto insurance claims each year for pothole damage. Potholes also drain the pocketbooks and wallets of the vehicle owner.

"Face it, repairing pothole-damaged tires will set you back $100 to $250, the wheel alignment will cost you $75-150,” said Kendall Bramble, Insurance Counselor, AAA Mid-Atlantic Insurance. “The expense of replacing the damaged tire rod ranges from $100 to $240. But replacing that control arm is even more expensive, with the price tab ranging from $200-$400. That is also the average bill for replacing the shocks and struts.”

“Bong!” That kPothole impacts can also cause a misaligned wheel, which focuses friction on one side of the tire, leading it to wear down more quickly. As the ground thaws, we will encounter many more potholes. The moderate weather and mild temperatures outside this week mean area road crews are out there repairing and patching potholes, a task called “potholing.” That’s music to your ears.




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