Fleet News

Lack of spare wheel leaves 62,000 fleet drivers stranded in 2014

Not having a spare wheel meant 62,000 fleet drivers were left stranded at the roadside last year – the equivalent of more than 160 drivers a day - according to new figures from RAC Business.

The analysis of breakdown statistics among RAC Business’s fleet customers also found that company car drivers are six times more likely than private car owners to be stuck with no spare wheel after getting a puncture. In 2014 12% of fleet drivers suffering a puncture were without a spare tyre, compared to only 2% of private drivers.

Last year, wheel changes accounted for one in four (24%) of all RAC Business call outs and are consistently the most common reason for company car drivers needing roadside assistance.

The increase in the number of company car drivers getting stuck is almost entirely due to the fact that the vast majority of new cars, nine out of ten, are now sold without a full-size spare tyre. This is in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle and comply with EU-wide regulations on emissions. Only a quarter of manufactures provide the smaller space-saving tyre and around half simply put a puncture repair kit in the boot of new cars.

However, a Fleet News poll of fleet decision-makers last year revealed an overwhelming majority (74.3%) would prefer to have a full-size spare wheel.

RAC Business estimates that by 2018 it will be dealing with in excess of 100,000 PNS (puncture no spare) call outs every year, a 60% rise from current levels.

At the start of 2014 the RAC responded to the change by equipping all of its patrols with a universal spare wheel, which can be fitted to more than 90% of car models and will allow drivers to safely reach a garage for a speedy repair. 

Jenny Powley, sales director corporate business, RAC Business said: “The move away from spare wheels in the boot brings clear environmental and fuel-saving benefits. However, it’s obvious from these figures that fleet drivers are particularly prone to finding themselves stuck at the side of the road with only a puncture repair kit to help them.

“Most people are unlikely to try to fix a puncture at the roadside, especially if they are on a schedule and have a breakdown. The benefit of the universal spare wheel means they are able to get back on the road with minimum disruption, and arrange for a puncture repair at a time that is more convenient to them.

“The discrepancy between the PNS figures for private and company drivers can be explained by the fact that fleet drivers are far more likely to be behind the wheel of a new car than those who drive private cars. But also on average fleet and business drivers are doing many more miles every year.”

In a separate study by RAC Business earlier in the year,  it was revealed that it costs small businesses up to £500 a day in lost revenue as a vehicle sits idle waiting for repair.

Powley added:  “Delays are costly and inconvenient and, as always, we aim to help stranded drivers get on their way with a minimum of fuss. A flat tyre can be expensive as well as inconvenient for companies running even a small fleet of vehicles.”

Click here for tyres best practice and procurement insight

Login to comment


  • DerekWebb - 16/09/2015 14:28

    Forgive my ignorance, I had no idea that some cars are supplied with a puncture repair kit and no spare wheel then claim this as an eco measure. LOL

  • eric.bristow@hobartuk.com - 16/09/2015 17:25

    The guidance I give to all my drivers is to let the AA attend and do not attempt to resolve the problem themselves. I do not want any of our drivers putting themselves at risk attempting a repair. If the waiting time for either the AA or the mobile tyre company is 45-60 mins, then we are prepared to accept that cost.

  • GCM Warwick, - 16/09/2015 21:15

    Behind all the figures detailing the loss of working time and considerable inconvenience of having a puncture with no spare - is the more concerning issue of driver safety. We all know how vulnerable a stranded vehicle is on today's busy roads and fantastic as the breakdown services are, the ability to change a wheel oneself, probably reduces the 'risk period' by at least 300%. All those grinding column inches devoted to making sure every fleet manager is aware of his personal risk should the worst happen, and yet we allow car manufacturers to supply vehicles with a major sub-standard safety risk! I refuse to order vehicles that don't have an option of at least a space-saver spare wheel. It is as essential as ABS, Airbags, ESC etc! Why are they not listening to 3/4 of their customers who want this. So, we use a handful more litres of fuel per year carrying a spare wheel - does that cost £500 as quoted for the loss of a day's work?

  • Bob the Engineer - 17/09/2015 20:47

    The ecological excuse for leaving out a spare is totally bogus. A spacesaver isn't that heavy and the weight could be saved elsewhere with thought. No, we all know its cost, have you ever looked at the repair kit? a £5 can of gunk and a nasty £5 compressor. A spare and tyre must cost at least £60+ so a nice little extra profit to remove it. It also enables the manufacturers to save on metal and construction for the tyre well and make bigger claims about the boot space available. It should be mandatory by law to provide a spare. Sadly as it won't be so, the fleet industry could help massively by leaning on manufacturers to comply with their permitted choice lists. Say no to gunk!! (it doesn't even work!)

  • Tony - 17/09/2015 21:11

    Is it not about time that all new cars are fitted with run flat tyres, which eliminates the carriage of a spare tyre or puncture repair kit and no breakdown call out's needed.

    • Graham - 29/09/2015 14:01

      Ever sat on a rear seat of a car and felt the bumps from our uneven, road-hump strewn UK roads ? Run flats would be ok on motorways, but not much else over here, I suspect. Have a try in a Jaguar XF, for example (this is not a slur on Jaguar, just my experience on our local roads).

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee