PEORIA, IL -- Did you know that some new cars now come without spare tires? The sales people might not tell you and the owner's handbook might not either in a straightforward way.
But you will learn the hard way, being stranded, waiting for a tow truck. That is, if your cell phone is in the car and it works to summon help.
That's what happened to me and my husband on August 17. Our Prius IV is less than three months old, with about 4,500 miles on it. It's under a full warranty by Toyota except for an exception: the tires.
Since there's no spare tire, which we discovered while fruitlessly trying to locate it in the truck or beneath the car, there's a 'kit' of 'gunk' to be pumped into the flat tire to repair it and pump it up.
Those kits never work, the tow truck driver told us. Our's didn't. The tow truck driver's device to pump up flats didn't work either. So the car was towed to the Toyota dealer in Peoria for a new tire, wheel balancing, and a new 'kit.' Total cost:$350. Not covered by the warranty.
Our auto insurance covered the tow truck, and the other costs go toward our deductible of $500. The tow damaged the bumper which means body work, so in all the blowout will cost us $500 before the insurance covers the rest.
We were grateful for the tow, since huge trucks were passing us from two feet away going 80 miles per hour. It was a dangerous situation. One inattentive driver and we would die.
An auto driver without a cell phone or one that could not get a signal, on a deserted road at night, would be sleeping in his vehicle. Or worse
This is a serious traffic safety issue.
Now for the tire warranty. Surely the Bridgestone/Firestone tire warranty would cover the cost. No. If you use the 'kit' to fix a tire, even if it doesn't work, the warranty is voided. It's in the small print. That's not in the car handbook either.
We took the blown out tire home to examine it. No rips or visible punctures. We don't know what happened to it. Was it defective? The tire dealer also looked at it and said maybe it picked up a nail that then fell out. The warranty doesn't cover road damage either, only defects. And not that, if you use the 'kit' to try to fix it.
We're not done with these issues. So check back for updates.
-- Elaine Hopkins
8/31/16: I filed a complaint with Toyota. The response: the kit is not part of the warranty unless it is defective, and it apparently worked but failed to fix the tire, which likely was off the rim. So we're out $100 for the kit unless we return it, which we might do.
The woman who took my complaint said it would be documented. I suggested that customers should be told in writing that there's no spare tire, and using the kit voids the tire warranty which is worthless anyway as it doesn't cover road damage. So buyer beware!