I’ve had a Hyundai Elantra for nearly three years now. Last week, I posted a picture to Twitter of my first flat tire in that car. We were headed out of town for the weekend, so I left it until this past Sunday.
We arrived home in the late afternoon and after unpacking, I pulled out the owner’s manual for the car to read through the flat tire repair instructions just to be sure I didn’t miss anything. I noticed two sections: Spare Tire and Tire Mobility Kit. “Tire Mobility Kit?”, I scoffed. “I don’t need to look at that section. I don’t even know what that is!”. Well, I should’ve paid more attention when I bought the car because, I do, in fact, own a Tire Mobility Kit and not the familiar donut. A tire mobility kit, dear reader, is apparently the new car manufacturer favorite alternative to an actual spare tire. It’s a sealant canister (aka Fix-a-flat) and an air compressor that plugs into the car’s power adapter (formerly cigarette lighter). This post from Edmund’s in January 2013 discusses the trend.
This is all well and good, but I have several issues with this. First, it wasn’t made clear to me when I bought the car. Second, Hyundai charges $50 for a replacement sealant canister (they’re only good once) and they charge $399 for a Spare Tire Kit which is more than three times the cost of a new tire, $127. Third, there seems to be some debate, but as the Edmund’s article points out, the sealant can’t always fix the tire and it may ruin your chances of patching the tire at all. The dealership sure didn’t seem too interested in patching the tire once the sealant was in there. On top of that, they pointed out that my new tire has a two year warranty and road hazard coverage. Given the economics, I’ve decided to do what the majority of drivers already do which is just call for roadside assistance if I get a flat. It’s certainly cheaper if you factor in the alternatives of $400 for a spare or $177 (new sealant canister plus a new tire) every time you get a flat. My insurance company charges a negligible amount more for Roadside Assistance on my policy for both cars.
This post’s title comes from the Hyundai cashier as I lamented the lack of a spare tire in the car. “I guess it’s a sign of the times.”