In an effort to reduce weight and improve fuel economy, automakers continue to eliminate spare tires from new vehicles. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, nearly one third of 2017 model year vehicles do not come equipped with a spare tire.

This is creating unnecessary hassles and expenses for drivers. Last year alone, AAA came to the rescue of more than 450,000 members who had flat tires. But their cars did not have a spare tire.

Spokeswoman Tracy Noble says drivers may not even know that their vehicle did not come with a spare because that's not typically a question that people are used to asking. She suggests checking the trunk of a new car to see if there is a spare. If not, ask if you can purchase one.

She says "having a flat tire can be a nuisance for drivers but not having a spare could put them in an even more aggravating situation." A routine process of changing a tire at roadside could wind up being an inconvenient and even costly situation.

Some automakers are including tire-inflator kits as a replacement for a spare tire in their new vehicles. The problem with this, says Noble, is that people don't know how to use them.

"Imagine being in a stressful situation where you are now stuck on the side of the road and the only thing you have is a tire-inflator kit that you've never operated before and you're then trying to figure it out."

Tire-inflator kits can also cost up to ten times more than a tire repair and have a shelf life of only four to eight years.

Not having a new vehicle equipped with a spare tire puts AAA in a very unusual situation as well, says Noble. It used to be that in the past, when you had a flat, AAA would come out, take the tire off, put the spare on and send you on your way.

But now sometimes AAA comes on the scene and there is no spare. Now the car needs to be towed.

To avoid a roadside surprise, Noble suggests checking for a spare in the trunk. Do regular tire maintenance. That means checking the tire pressure on all four tires plus the spare. If your car is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, you should read the owner's manual, learn how to use it, know its limitations and check the expiration date on it.

But she says the best thing to do is consider roadside assistance coverage. It gives you peace of mind when you have roadside trouble, including a flat tire.

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