When you need a spare wheel

To carry spare wheels – no brainer or don’t bother?

I was fascinated to read a thread on the Horse & Hound website forum recently which posed the question of whether we should carry spare wheels with tyres on for our horse vehicles when we travel.

Now when I grew up, tyre technology wasn’t up to much and we were always taught that a puncture was almost guaranteed on a long journey. A deep knowledge of where the spare and all the paraphernalia was housed, and how to change a wheel by the road-side was ingrained in our minds – along with what to do when the engine over-heated and weekly bicycle maintenance! For me, it was amazing to think anyone might attempt a journey without a spare wheel on-board.

But then I got thinking. Firstly, the technological world of rubber has moved on considerably since those days and in fact, I have only had 2 punctures in the last…. can’t remember how many but a lot of…. years. What’s more, both of those punctures were so slow I didn’t even notice them straight away and had plenty of time to take the vehicle to our local tyre dealer.

Secondly, we’ve just bought a brand new car. It’s a tiny Skoda Citigo and guess what….. it doesn’t even have a spare wheel in it!!! Apparently lots of new cars don’t have spare wheels these days and of course, you pay for a brilliant breakdown service, so why bother to carry one?

Furthermore, a spare tyre is not part of the MOT test and there is no statutory requirement to carry one. So what’s the point? – We may well ask.

Well, logic and sanity soon returned along with many good reasons to keep the age old tradition of carrying a spare wheel with tyre (and knowing where it is) going. Read on for a selection:

1. Tyre sizes – whilst very modern vehicles may use more standard items, older vehicles will almost certainly have unusual size tyres that may be difficult to find in a hurry. If your vehicle tyre size is not in stock and you’re on the way home late Sunday afternoon, there’s trouble.

2. Tyre Ratings – These relate to the weight and speed at which a tyre is tested for. Lorry and trailer tyres are simply a very different thing to those on a car so again, correctly rated tyres need to be in stock if you have an emergency and no spare.

3. A damaged wheel rim – If the actual metal wheel rim is damaged, (a heavy scrape on the curb or a decent kick from a hoof) then even if a correctly specified tyre is available at short notice, they couldn’t fit it to the wheel anyway.

I’m sure you can think of a ton more reasons, all of them ‘no-brainers’ to carry a spare wheel with tyre in your horse carrying vehicles. After all, in an emergency, you know it’s time, it’s stress, it could be money and above all it’s your horses that will be home un-phased if you pay attention to the boring details.

Finally, it’s quite true that even with my impressive skills at changing wheels by the road-side, I am not keen to change a lorry or trailer wheel by myself in an urgent situation. You will almost certainly need our help in a tyre emergency but the more you can help us, the faster we can get you back on the road. For speed and for simple peace of mind, do carry a spare wheel with a tyre on when you travel – and make sure you check its condition regularly – there’s few things quite like a flat tyre on a spare wheel when you need it!

Some legal stuff FYI:
• For vehicles not exceeding 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm over the centre three quarters of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference, there must also be no bulges or cuts on the side walls.

• Vehicles in excess of 3,500KG (3.5 tonnes) the minimum tread depth is 1mm in a continuous band measuring at least three quarters of the breath of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference, there must also be no bulges or cuts in the side walls

• In both cases the tyre must be suitably inflated for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put.

Drivers Hours Regulation

Lorry drivers hours regulations are governed by law in the UK and drivers who are found to have exceeded them can be prosecuted. Horseboxes (horse lorries) are covered by this law, so read on for some details of what you should know.