There's a good chance your new car doesn't have a spare tire

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Cars are getting lighter and more fuel-efficient all the time. But many automakers, in an attempt to cull excess weight, have chosen to drop spare tires. If you've ever gotten a flat, you're aware they come in handy.

According to research released Wednesday by AAA, 28% of 2017 model year vehicles don't come with a spare tire as standard equipment. AAA assisted 450,000 members in 2016 who got a flat but didn't have a spare tire. So ask yourself: Where is my spare tire? If, like me, right now, you cannot answer that question, check your car.

Why you want a spare

A spare tire may weigh extra, but it can also keep you from spending extra. If your car didn't come with one, you can buy a spare tire for less than $200, an expense you'll only have to pay once. Without one, you'll have to rely on roadside assistance or a tow truck driver any time you get a flat. This will add up in money and time spent sitting on the side of the road, and your auto insurance may not cover it. (Check out our answers to some common auto insurance questions

Lots of newer vehicles come with tire pressure monitoring systems that let you know when you're at risk of a flat. But tire-related problems are still among the top reasons why AAA members need assistance, the organization said.

On top of this, almost 30%, or 39 million U.S. drivers don't know how to change a flat tire. You should know how to change a tire. Learn right now. Seriously. Take five minutes and add a new skill:

How to avoid a flat

Instead of spare tires, a lot of automakers are including tire-inflator kits that can repair flat tires. However, these kits can't fix a lot of tire-related problems, including damage to the sidewall or totally blown out tires.

Here are some of AAA's tips for avoiding a flat:

Inspect all five tires. Check tire pressures monthly and have all tires inspected as part of routine maintenance. If your vehicle has a spare tire, be sure that it’s properly inflated.

Read ahead. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, read the owner’s manual and understand how it works and its limitations.

Check expiration dates. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, check its expiration date. Most need to be replaced every four to eight years.

Seriously though, learn to change a tire.

Image: FotoSpeedy