Spare Tires: Do You Still Need Them for Your Cargo Van?

Vintage spare tire cover

If you buy a cargo van today, there’s one thing you’re sure to notice. And that is a lot of manufacturers don’t include spare tires with their vehicle anymore. Or if they do, they offer it as an optional package. You have to get that package at an extra cost.

We all know instinctively that spare tires are necessary, in case you get a flat on the road. So why are cargo van manufacturers cutting them out of their products? Well, of course, money is part of the reason. These manufacturers can save lots in operational costs if they take out spare tires from their new vans.

But that’s not the whole picture. Manufacturers may be trying to maximize cargo space when they skip on the spares. Not including spare tires also improves fuel economy. After all, not having spare tires shaves up to 50 lbs off a vehicle’s weight. Those 50 pounds can spell a huge difference in how efficiently a vehicle uses up fuel.

Spare tire with crochet cover

Image source: Flickr.com

When is it okay not to buy a spare tire?

While we instinctively know it makes sense to have a spare tire, sometimes it’s perfectly fine to go without. It all depends on your location, where you mostly do your driving, and when you mostly drive. Whether your van is your personal vehicle or one you use for business is a factor to consider as well.

Do you drive mostly in a highly urbanized area with lots of freeways? Then you probably don’t need a spare. Changing tires on a busy highway is not exactly safe to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re parked at the shoulder of the highway. What you should do is to sign up for vehicle insurance that includes roadside assistance coverage. With roadside assistance, you can avail of cheaper towing services. Towing services usually costs a lot more without this coverage.

Now, if you:

  • Live in a rural area, where repair shops can be few or far between
  • Use your cargo van for business – for deliveries, transporting vehicles, or contractor jobs
  • Take a lot of road trips, especially to isolated areas and on rough terrain
  • Travel with small children
  • Have a medical condition that requires you to be ready to go to the hospital any time

Then skipping on the spare tire is simply out of the question. For one, time is money. You can’t afford to waste time waiting for towing services to come. Your business depends on your van, so you have to get it running as soon as possible. For another, you may not have access to towing services if you’re in an isolated area. Lastly, if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you have a spare tire. Young children generally dislike getting stuck in a vehicle. It’s also dangerous for them to do so, especially when the weather is on the extreme.

What are your options when it comes to spare tires?

A spare tire is a spare tire is a spare tire. Or at least that’s what a lot of people think. That’s not quite true, though. There are many types of spare tires out there. If you’re buying one, you need to know these types and what makes them different from each other. Thus, you’ll be able to get one that fits your needs best.

What types of spare tires are out here?

  1. Full-size spare tires. Full-size spare tires are exactly the same size as your regular tires. You generally get one to match your tires. Some countries, however, have laws that allow vehicle owners to keep non-matching spare tires. Having a full-size spare tire has a number of advantages. One is you get to maintain the overall look of your vehicle even if you replace your tire. The other is you can postpone having to go to the mechanic to fix your tires. The downside here is you need to rotate your spare with your regulars so they’d all wear evenly. Additionally, when it’s time to replace your tires, you’ll have to get five instead of just four.
  2. Full-size temporary spare tires. Full-size temporary spare tires have the same size as your regular ones. However, unlike your regular tires, these spares are made with lighter materials. They also have shallower treads. Thus, they’re not meant for long-term use. You’ll need to have your regular tire fixed immediately if you only have a temporary spare.
  3. Compact-size spare tires. Compact-size spare tires are smaller than your regular tires. They are also designed only for temporary use because they’re lightweight and their treads are shallow. So this means you have to get your flat tire fixed as soon as possible if you only have a compact-sized spare. You’ll also have to adjust your driving if you have your compact spare on. Having your compact spare on can affect your vehicle’s speed, traction control, braking, and other functions.
  4. Foldable spare tires. If you want to maximize space on your cargo van, then you can choose to have a foldable spare tire on hand instead. Foldable spares take up little space. But they’re a lot less durable than compact temporary spare tires. So if you have your foldable spare installed, your next stop should be to your mechanic.

How to buy and care for your spare tires

If you’re buying a new cargo van, you must decide then and there whether you’ll get a spare tire too. You’ll get it a lot more cheaply if you buy your spare along with your new vehicle. Aftermarket prices for spare tires can be prohibitive. Buying spare tires from unauthorized dealers can void your warranty as well.

It’s important that you give your spare tire as much attention as you would your regular tires too. Your spares should be inflated and in tip-top condition all the time. Otherwise, you’d be contradicting the purpose of having a spare tire in the first place.

A lot of cargo van manufacturers don’t include spare tires anymore, unless as an optional package. If you feel you’re going to need a spare tire, you must not hesitate to get one. Having a spare tire can spare you a lot of trouble if you do need it.

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