It was the thud-a-thud-a-thud-a sound that gave it away.

Yes, the front off-side tyre in a Volvo V60 I was driving had divested itself of all of its air and the tyre was as flat as a day-old glass of Coke.

It was pouring with rain and still dark. Happily there was a petrol station two minutes away where I could do the necessary work, and get on my way.

Whether you get a spare wheel of any description is largely a lottery with most new cars these days. Standard-fit tyre foam is becoming the norm, with both space savers and full-size spare wheels relegated to the options lists.

I popped the boot, lifted the floor and, lo and behold, there's a small electric pump and a small bottle of white liquid that you screw in the top. A sticker on the side suggests that it's no harder to use than your own electric pump.

But after covering my hands, and a significant proportion of the petrol station, in the fluid after it transpired that it hadn't fully attached to the tyre valve, it became obvious this was a lost cause. Foam is fine at filling small holes, even if it's in a get-me-home kinda way. But no amount of it would repair a puncture of this size.