A nail in the tyre was soon spotted by the automatic tyre pressure sensors and changed for the temporary spare, but finding a replacement was easier said than done.
My local Kwik-Fit depot did not have the tyre in stock. They offered to try to get one but rang back to say that Continental (the manufacturer) didn’t have any in the UK and so were unable to help. Calls to my local Renault dealer and to ATS were equally unsatisfactory.
Continental’s website was of little use, but I tried an internet search for the tyre spec and up popped a result for www.blackcircles.com (see our Webwatch review of the site).
What a find! The fantastic user-friendly site guided me through the step-by-step ordering process, to the point where I could choose – by putting in my postcode – where to have the job done. I couldn’t believe it could be so simple, so I phoned the helpline to check they had the tyre in stock and could fit it two days later. Reassured, I completed the online ordering and it was then a matter of dropping in at the selected local garage with a print-out of the receipt. The tyre was changed and off I went. Brilliant, and very simple.
It was interesting to see that the car's computer recognised the spare had been used - it disappeared from the tyre sensor monitor - and the automatic gearbox adjusted by making it almost impossible to drive, simply refusing to accelerate up the gears. I've since discovered that as the spare tyre is smaller in both diameter and width, it can knock the car's sensors out of kilter, tricking the car into a limited performance mode.
Model: Renault Grand Espace 3.0 dCi Initiale
Price (OTR): £34,175 (£36,475 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 252
Company car tax bill (2004/5) 40% tax-payer: £396 per month
Insurance group: 14
Combined mpg: 27.6
Test mpg: 33.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £10,125/30%
HSBC contract hire rate: £600
Expenditure to date: £964 (new windscreen and tyre)