How Do You Feel About Spare Tires Jammed In The Engine Bay?

Illustration for article titled How Do You Feel About Spare Tires Jammed In The Engine Bay?

Spare wheels are bulky, dirty things. That’s part of why they’re becoming less and less common in cars, replaced with tire inflation kits and printed notes from the manufacturer to “deal with it.” Usually, the spare is stashed in a car’s trunk, but not always. Today I want to know how you feel about the controversial practice of jamming it in with the engine.

If we’re honest, under the floor of a trunk really isn’t the best place to stash a spare tire. If you get a flat and have a trunk full of luggage, you have to take everything out, possibly stick it on the side of the road, then cram in your filthy, flat, missshapen wheel, which may not fit into the temporary-spare sized well in the trunk, and, oh, it’s all a big, fat mess.

Good enough for a Lada Niva!
Good enough for a Lada Niva!

Sure, some forward-thinking yet rear-engined cars like the Renault Dauphine or the Tatra T603 had special trap-door accessible compartments for spare tires, but those are rare.

In a lot of ways, sticking the spare in the engine bay makes a lot of sense. If you’ve got the room, it’s out of the way, it doesn’t eat up any more storage room, it’s not going to get anything dirty, and it’s a good place to rest your tools and margarita glasses while you’re working on the car.

I’m actually quite pro spare-in-the-engine-bay. Hell, one of my cars, my currently and sadly immobile Reliant Scimitar, has a full-size spare right in front of the engine:

Illustration for article titled How Do You Feel About Spare Tires Jammed In The Engine Bay?

But I know many people aren’t down with this. My own father, even. He didn’t know much about cars, but for some reason I remember that he was very against the concept of the spare in with the engine. He’d grimace at the thought, as though maybe it repulsed him, a bit.

Some say the heat from the engine bay damages the tire; others, I think, reject it on aesthetic grounds. What I want to know is what you, my dashing readers, think. Am I wrong to be so pro tire-in-the-engine-bay? Was my dad right, after all? Or is it just a rational, sensible use of available space?


Let’s talk.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:

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David Tracy

I used to have to do “Time at Temperature” thermal analyses on all sorts of underhood parts (rubber engine mounts were my nemeses). In short, we used Arrhenius plots—which characterize a material’s degradation rate at certain temperatures—to see if our newly designed fascias and cooling modules and exhaust packaging would cook up our rubber stuff (as well as other materials). The thermal analyses would tell us if we had to spend the cash on silicone parts or if we had to waste money/packaging space/weight on single layer heat shields, dual layer heat shields, etc.

So the engineer in me says “no.” But the weird car nut in me says Hell Yes, especially if you use the tire pressure to power your windshield washer.