Fun fact: did you know we typically test over 80 new cars and trucks every year? And over time we’ve noticed that full-sized spare tires were going the way of the VCR, replaced with temporary spare tires--commonly called “donuts.”
Aside from the fairly obvious smaller appearance, you can also identify a temporary spare by the “T” designation that appears in front of the size shown on the sidewall of the tire.
These diminutive tires operate at higher pressure to provide the load capacity of a full-sized tire. They save room and more importantly save some weight, which helps improve a vehicle’s overall fuel economy.
About 4.5 percent of our tested cars came with a tire repair kit, which works fine if you have the classical small nail puncture in the tread. But if you’re like us, we find most of our flats are caused by sidewall cuts from pothole or curb damage. If this happens to you, then you are out of luck and will need to have a cell phone handy to call a tow truck. (Read about our recent experience: “Hyundai Elantra leaves me flat.”)