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How To Plan For A Flat Tire In a Mazda Miata or Fiat 124 Spider

The Mazda Miata and Fiat 124 Spider are unusual in that they have no spare tire and also do not have run flat tires. So what’s the plan if one gets a flat?

The Mazda Miata and Fiat 124 Spider don’t have any spare tire and are not equipped with run-flat tires. There is a very questionable repair kit included in the car, but as we will explain, using it may not be a practical solution.

Where Did The Spare Go?
Almost every automobile in America still has some sort of flat tire plan, but AAA reported in 2015 that a third of new cars don't have any kind of spare.. Yes, automakers are stealing our spare tires and even compact spare tires claiming it is for the benefit of lower weight and fuel economy. This is baloney. Cars with nine heavy speakers and an audio amplifier the size of a window air conditioner have no legitimate claim to a true dedication to weight savings. Some car makers, like BMW for example, have turned to run-flats as a way to get rid of spare tires (and maybe to make more money at dealerships on more expensive tires). There are various valid opinions on run-flat tires, but we give them a thumbs-down based on our real-world experience with them. On the upside, run flats at least offer a sound plan for getting home with a simple puncture.

The Miata and Fiat 124 Spider Repair Kit
Open the trunk of a new 2016 or 2017 Miata or Spider and inside is a small pump and a can of gunk that gets injected into the tire to seal it. On the prior generation Miatas that ran from 2006 through 2015, the kit was a joke. The can of gunk was to be gravity-fed into the valve of the tire after the valve stem was removed. Imagine trying to remove and replace a valve stem the size of a fingernail clipping outside in the snow, at night, on a busy highway. At least the new kits don’t require that step! Except in Mexico, where for some odd reason, Mazda still uses that older kit design.

The new kit may work in ideal situations, but it requires that the can of gunk be connected to the tire, then the can separately connects to the little baby pump, which you plug into your power outlet in the car, and then the process starts. Let’s face facts: a can of Fix A Flat is a much more sensible option and uses the same basic idea, but with one connection and one step. What makes it an even better solution is it is cheap, and you can replace the can annually to ensure it has not turned to a solid inside. Do you think that can of Mazda or Fiat gunk liquid is going to work in nine years? How about in 15? Will the gunk still be a liquid when it is below zero degrees and the car has been sitting cold-soaked for a week? (More on Page 2)

Are Flat Tires Really a Problem?
Being former owners and lucky testers of Miatas and Fiat 124 Spiders, we carry our own kit to deal with flats. Why? Because as owners we had multiple flats in Miatas and learned the hard way that even if one can find a tire store or dealer nearby, they are usually closed on weekends and holidays, which are the best days to be out and about in a Miata or Spider!

What To Put In Your Kit
Our kit includes the can of Fix a Flat and a simple plug tool for punctures. It also includes a AAA membership. AAA has bailed us out many times and the folks they send are often knowledgeable and helpful (and good with a tire a tire iron). Even if we planned to try our own fix we might make a call to AAA just in case it all goes wrong. Hopefully not as wrong as Mazda’s manual suggests it might. It states “Ingesting tire sealant is harmful…” Who’d have guessed?


Dangerous Dan (not verified)    April 28, 2017 - 10:04AM

Removing spare tires was the worst decision auto-makers have ever made. Their recommended procedure for a flat tire is to pull over and call a tow truck. That is crazy ridiculous.

In my BMW I ended up buying a spare tire kit and leaving it in the truck. Run flats cost twice as much and most tire shops won't even patch simple leaks. I sold the BMW and vowed to never buy a car that doesn't have a spare tire.

Its not something most people consider when buying a car since until recently it was givin that every car had a spare.

joe gordon (not verified)    April 28, 2017 - 6:00PM

Duh, read the warnings on the Fix-a-flat can. You CAN'T store it in a hot car trunk since it may explode and it won't work if the can is cold. Torque News: how many people are you going to kill?

Carl Davis (not verified)    May 15, 2017 - 7:19PM

Having a spare is irrelevant considering you can't use the pitiful manufacturer's lug wrench to break loose the nuts after they were installed with an air wrench. I always carry a "t" lug wrench in the event of a flat.

John Goreham    May 18, 2017 - 5:34PM

In reply to by Carl Davis (not verified)

Absolutely right. I prefer a "breaker bar" ratchet with a socket because they are easier to store. There is no spare anyway in this car, and one will not fit into the trunk area (tried it). You make a good point though, that one needs a plan. In other cars, my plan for lug nut removal is AAA first, and the wrench if they are for some reason not available.

Michael Edwin … (not verified)    July 26, 2017 - 12:26PM

In reply to by John Goreham

I've had two punctures in the many miles I've driven my MX5. I've never used the "goo". One was a slow leaker and I managed to have a shop repair it (it should be patched from the inside). The other was also slow, but because they were about to be replaced soon, I repaired it with the typical plug kit. This worked fine for my 17 inch rims. But beware of super low profile tires as there wont be enough room to insert the plug tool!

Michael Edwin … (not verified)    July 26, 2017 - 12:24PM

I've had two punctures in the many miles I've driven my MX5. I've never used the "goo". One was a slow leaker and I managed to have a shop repair it (it should be patched from the inside). The other was also slow, but because they were about to be replaced soon, I repaired it with the typical plug kit. This worked fine for my 17 inch rims. But beware of super low profile tires as there wont be enough room to insert the plug tool!

Phil (not verified)    December 18, 2017 - 9:59AM

My 2016 Miata did not come with a jack or a lug wrench. I guess that I must always have a strong passenger to pick up the corner of the car with the flat tire.

Ron (not verified)    April 18, 2018 - 6:32PM

Regarding the lug nuts that were installed by a gorilla with an air wrench at the factory, why don't you break them loose in your garage ( or have your local garage do it), then tighten to manufacture specs? Better now then trying to do it later!

Bruce Berkeley (not verified)    June 7, 2018 - 9:54AM

Just bought a 2018 Miata and didn't realize the no spare deal until I picked it up from the dealer. Really uncomfortable relying on AAA as my "go to". I like to be self sufficient. Any other ideas out there?

KATHLEEN MILFORD (not verified)    August 2, 2018 - 12:02PM

In reply to by Bruce Berkeley (not verified)

I am 84 year old widow. Bought 2018 Miata. (Don't ask. I WANTED IT!) My generation, all cars had a spare, So just assumed, and was not told, no spare! Found out when hole in sidewall. Kits will not repair hole in sidewall. Not a happy camper.

Michael Cohen (not verified)    August 3, 2018 - 1:56AM

I wonder if a 14" rim would fit over the brakes of the ND. Probably not. Though with a 185/60/14 tire (22 15/32 overall diameter) it just might fit in the trunk. A cheap scissor jack is all that would be needed due to the ND's light weight.

John Goreham    August 3, 2018 - 9:22AM

In reply to by Michael Cohen (not verified)

Good luck. The compact spare of a Mazda RX would have fit an NC Miata, but it would not fit inside the trunk. And they are crazy expensive to buy as a stand-alone part. You would not even need the jack. You just call AAA to come and do the change for you. If you find this to work, let me know and I will tell the world.

KATHLEEN MILFORD (not verified)    August 3, 2018 - 2:45PM

Spoke with local Mazda Service Dept., and sure 'nuff, said spare would not fit in trunk. So, why have one if you can't take it with you??!! And what about the 2018 one on eBay? My new Miata comes with 3 years roadside assistance, supposed to get there in 30 minutes, and will tow to nearest Mazda dealer. In Mississippi there are only two, so could be a long tow. Still, I'm not dropping the AAA I have carried 20+ years. They are tried and proven. Mazda's may be a pig in a poke.

John Goreham    August 3, 2018 - 4:31PM

In reply to by KATHLEEN MILFORD (not verified)

Sounds like my experience when I owned a 2008 Miata. I love AAA and I have it for every family member - even ones that don't own a car. AAA will come for you and they will tow you to a dealer. Then what if it is after hours or the shop is closed for the day like most in New England are on Sundays? Uber home and go get the car on the next business day? It is a real issue.

KATHLEEN MILFORD (not verified)    August 3, 2018 - 9:16PM

Site rejected my last post, I guess because I added smiley. To repeat, my other car is an Altima, so can't call Mazda for it. Giving up AAA not even an option.

James (not verified)    January 9, 2019 - 9:15AM

Pretty sad to have a sporty car to ride around on a nice weekend and have a flat tire totally ruin said weekend. At least my Civic has a donut, lugs are tightened to 80 pounds (recommended) and I have a better lug wrench. For those that have a donut (in other cars), highly suggest you check air pressure AT LEAST annually, you are suppose to put around 60 psi in them and they will lose pressure over time - you don't want to put one on and find out it is either flat or only has 25 psi.

John Bowling (not verified)    January 16, 2019 - 2:05PM

Mfrs. will reverse this terrible decision if the first question every car buyer asks when he walks into a dealership is, "Does this car have a spare tire?"

Allen McHenry (not verified)    September 30, 2019 - 1:10AM

I had a 2007 Miata, and purchased a new canary yellow RX doughnut for a spare. It was a tight fit, but the 5 bolt pattern fit like a dream as a spare. You’ve got to put the doughnut on the front due to the Limited Slip Diff (some rotation of tires needed if the flat is on the rear). I traded my 2007 for a 2019 RF Miata. It has a 4 bolt pattern and a slightly smaller trunk. The RX doughnut won’t work, and haven’t tried a New Mazda 3 spare. After a 6 hr wait for a tow truck this weekend, I invested in a cheap plug kit, a can of Fix a Flat, a compressor, a small bottle jack, wheels stops, expandable lug wrench, & battery charger. If I get a sidewall nail, it’s a tow truck, but I’m trying to limit the mess I had this weekend. I did purchase an OEM jack (there’s a place for it in the trunk, but I understand only Canadien Miata’s come with the jack). The OEM jack fits nicely into the trunk slot, but you’ve also got to have the fitting bolt that secures it, and the 2 items needed to use the jack (hence my purchase of a bottle jack). No easy solution. I’m hoping the plug kit can take care of at least 80% of my flat tire issues. The car still must be jacked up when you have a flat (which the American cars don’t come with). AAA is a good idea. Mazda Road Side folks were very very nice, we just had bad luck with getting a tow service to respond. It would be nice to have a Miata OEM doughnut. The extra weight would be a good compromise in my opinion. Expandable after market lug wrenches are easy to purchase.

Mel (not verified)    April 7, 2024 - 5:53PM

I just had a sidewall blowout in a 2021 miata after hitting a pot hole. Buying a new tire isn’t what I wanted to do but had to. I’ll be getting rid of this miata asap and opting for an older model with a spare.