The RAC is launching its new mobile tyre-fitting service across 10 key city and urban centres as it prepares to deal with more than 120,000 ‘puncture no spare’ breakdowns in 2014.
Together with battery and electrical faults, damaged tyres and wheels top the list of breakdowns for modern vehicles and can result in a huge inconvenience for motorists.
The RAC has seen the problem compounded by the state or Britain's roads with 84% of drivers saying that the condition of local roads is deteriorating, according to the RAC Report on Motoring 2013.
Last year the RAC dealt with 356,927 puncture and tyre breakdowns which equates to 14% of all call-outs.
The added confusion of manufacturers removing the spare wheel from new cars to reduce the weight to comply with EU emission targets ensures the odds really are stacked up against drivers.
The RAC has recruited a team of tyre patrols to operate the fleet of 10 dedicated tyre vans which will enable them to respond to the growing number of motorists who are left stranded in the event of a puncture as 50% of new cars being sold now do not come equipped with a spare wheel as standard.
Normal RAC patrols fix the majority of punctures at the roadside or use the RAC’s new universal wheel, but this new tyre-fitting service will complement the experienced patrol force.
The vans are supplied by Mercedes. They are based on the Sprinter model and fitted out by the RAC’s technical team with the latest puncture and tyre-replacement equipment, a full-tool kit and stocked with a wide selection of the most popular makes and sizes.
The team is supported by the RAC’s regional network of tyre suppliers and will be able to respond swiftly to tyre-related breakdowns.
Phil Ryan, head of technical at the RAC, said: “The RAC’s new dedicated fleet of mobile tyre-fitting patrols will ensure that we can respond to the growing number of members and motorists who suffer a puncture only to discover their car does not carry a spare.
"Suffering a puncture is a very common problem and we wanted to be able to offer motorists an effective solution which would enable them to get back on the road in the shortest time possible.
“Our mobile tyre-fitting service will cover many of the key city and urban centres and enable us to respond at the roadside to the greatest number of tyre-related breakdowns.
"We have developed the service in response to demand from our fleet and lease businesses, however it will benefit all of the RAC’s members offering a fast and reliable replacement tyre service.
“We have run successful trials with two tyre vans covering Birmingham and Manchester which has proved particularly popular with our fleet and business customers who want to be confident that their vehicles and drivers are given the best support to get them back on the road as swiftly and as safely as possible.
"Time off the road costs money and to small and large businesses a dedicated tyre fitting service offers the best solution to keep their vehicles moving and business on track.”
In December 2013 the RAC rolled out its universal spare wheel to all of its 1,600 patrol vehicles after a successful trial period in the South West.
The patrol simply replaces the punctured wheel with a multi-fit wheel developed by the RAC, avoiding the timely process of towing the motorist to a tyre centre, allowing them to continue on their journey to their destination.
They can then arrange for their original tyre to be repaired or replaced at their convenience, leaving the RAC’s universal spare with the tyre centre to be collected later by the patrol.