Golf R Spare Tire Kit

An unfortunate number of cars these days do not provide a spare tire as factory equipment. Some have run-flat tires which can generally get you back home or to a repair shop within 50 miles. Primary disadvantages of run-flats are high cost (upwards of double that of normal tires), low availability (you still can't roll into any ol' tire shop and expect to find the one you need), they can't be repaired, stiffer sidewalls are much more difficult to mount requiring special equipment, selection (the highest performance tires aren't run-flat) and more unsprung weight (decreasing handling performance). Others, like the Golf R, come with a bottle of sealant you squirt through the valve stem (leaving an ugly mess) and a portable electric air compressor. Neither solution provides protection against a catastrophic blow-out just like neither one helps in the least with sidewall damage. Nice idea, lousy implementation.

Seriously, $40K car with a voluminous hatchback and yet no spare tire. Reprehensible.

Two weeks into ownership of my Golf R, I already had the components for a proper spare tire kit on-order. Naturally, that's when I ran over road debris that punctured the shoulder of my left front. It was entirely my fault — I was driving too close to the car in front of me so I couldn't see it in time to avoid it. Idiot. I didn't suffer a blow-out, just a full deflation in less than five minutes. I was fortunate there was a gas station on the right side of the road a short way ahead. I rotated the tire with the hole down so the goo would plug it right away. But even the tiniest amount of air pressure just squirted that crud out the side. Fortunately I was in town or it could have been much worse and the tow much more expensive.

So what should have been a ten minute wheel swap turned into a three hour ordeal waiting for a tow truck in rush hour traffic.

Dear automobile manufacturers,

I will not even consider purchase of a vehicle lacking the most basic of safety equipment: spare tire, jack, wrench, etc. Ever.

By this time I was already on my way to fixing this failed design with the following parts on-order from Parts.Com.

Essential spare tire kit components
PartVW Part Number
Jack handle (rod)5QM-011-221
17 mm lug wrench4D0-012-219-A
Spare wheel & tire5K0-601-011-AA
Jack strap5G0-867-749
Tow hook8K0-805-615
Lug cap removing tool6X0-012-243
Screw driver8Z0-012-255
Spare wheel retainer screw1K0-803-899-D

These are the essentials that come as standard equipment on other Golfs, except for the specifically narrow wheel and tire which is part of the Audi A3/S3 kit. (The A3/S3 hatchback fits in length between the regular Golf and the Golf Variant/Wagon, known previously as the Jetta Wagon.) The reason the regular Golf/GTI spare tire kit doesn't just swap in is due to the higher hatch floor of the R owing to the rear differential not present on its FWD brethren. Possibly the 18" A3 spare is required to fit over the R's front brake calipers.

The spare wheel/tire is held down under the subwoofer with the big, plastic screw seen in the photos. Fortunately this screw is long enough to accommodate both the subwoofer and the wheel face. The US-spec plastic trim panel below the hatch interferes with the arc of the tire, but one can easily and cheaply trim it away with a rotary tool and some sanding to make it smooth. The rest of the kit could be stored compactly in a tool bag hidden under the load floor and you'd be done. But I wanted an OEM look, so I ordered the European hatch trim with the tire relief molded into it and the thinner European foam tool organizer. Unfortunately these two parts are not available on any US-spec car and, thus, not orderable through a US parts vendor. I placed my order at e-ACCA in Latvia. Fulfillment and shipping took more than a month, but these two items were not essential to the utility of the kit, so I was prepared for emergencies long before they arrived. I find the completed look was worth it.

Optional spare tire kit components
PartVW Part Number
Hatch trim5G6-863-459-L-82V

In the subsequent year and a half since I installed this kit I've had the unfortunate opportunity to use it twice. It's possible the OEM tires of this car are cursed. (I used the Evo's spare once in 13 years rather than drive a few miles home on a slow leak. In some cars I didn't use the spare at all.) So it makes me really glad I have a spare tire now.