Rear tire carrier best options

Dlcain

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Nothing is broke but I'm concerned that something may break down the road with my big spare tire. Debating weather to buy heavy duty hinges or splurge for a heavy duty tire mount. Am I worried about nothing? Your thoughts?

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ejbreeze2017

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I had the same concern when I started to hear a creaking noise each time I opened the tailgate. So, I went with the Teraflex hinged spare tire carrier. I am very happy with it and the overall strength of the carrier.
 
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Dirty Dog

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The Wrangler tailgate hinges are marginal at best. An oversized spare will inevitably lead to problems. The hinges sag, causing misalignment of the door. The tailgate itself can bend from the weight. And bouncing on the trails will make it much worse.

There are several solutions. Which one is best is (and likely always will be) the subject of heated debate.

The first option is heavy duty hinges. This can keep your hinges from getting saggy, but I think 35's are about the limit. And they do not prevent the extra weight from altering the shape of your tailgate. THIS is an example.
You can add reinforcements to the tailgate, like THIS, to prevent the sheet metal from bending, but it's still limited by tire size.

The next option is a pivot-type heavy duty tire carrier from someplace like Smittybilt, Terraflex, et all. THIS is what I have used on both our current Jeeps. This transfers the weight of the spare to the body tub, which is considerably stronger than the sheet metal of the tailgate. It also allows your tailgate to continue to operate normally; there are no extra steps involved when you open it. The one I linked is good for a 37" spare. You could go larger, but your bumper will be in the way.

The final option is a swing-away tire carrier, which you can find in body-mounted or bumper-mounted versions.
THIS version is body mounted. It's limited to 35" tires, same as the pivot-type carriers. It mounts to the body tub on both sides of the tailgate, which does spread the weight out over a larger area. This would be vital if the single-side carriers were bending the tub, but I have not heard of this being a problem.
THIS version mounts to the bumper. It transfers the weight of the tire to the frame, which is obviously the strongest possible support. This makes it the best option for really big tires. With this option, you need to either buy the matching bumper or be willing and able to modify your current bumper to work with the carrier. Welding will be involved, and obviously an OEM bumper is not going to work.
Both styles of swing-away carriers also require more work to open the tailgate. You will no longer be able to just grab the handle while juggling groceries in your other arm. On any kind of slope, opening the tailgate can be a two-arm job.
 
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Dlcain

Dlcain

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Wtg Dirty dog! This is an awsome post! I think I'm going to look for the same version you have. I like the idea of the tailgate opening normally and spreading the load out. I do have the creaking sound and also can hear a slapping sound when hitting chatter bumps. Since I don't do any hard-core off roading, I don't think I'll need the swing out type. I'd like to get that bungee style gate stop. I noticed that mine looks slightly bent.
 

Dirty Dog

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Wtg Dirty dog! This is an awsome post! I think I'm going to look for the same version you have. I like the idea of the tailgate opening normally and spreading the load out. I do have the creaking sound and also can hear a slapping sound when hitting chatter bumps. Since I don't do any hard-core off roading, I don't think I'll need the swing out type. I'd like to get that bungee style gate stop. I noticed that mine looks slightly bent.
If it's creaking and rattling, I'd make the upgrade a priority.

The pivot style carriers that I mentioned don't just spread the weight out. They totally remove the weight from the tailgate and transfer it to the structural beam in the body tub. Not as strong as a frame mount, but far stronger than any piece of sheet metal.

The tailgate check straps in the JK Wrangler are horribly under-engineered. Which is a polite way of saying they're utter crap. It's absolutely something you should upgrade, and the paracord straps are much better than OEM-style offerings.
 
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Dlcain

Dlcain

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Just wanted to give everyone an update. After considering all the replies and watching several videos, I went ahead and ordered the rugged ridge. I ordered just the hinge because I'm going to reuse my OEM mount. I'm going to slice the 3rd brake light off it and install the Light that mounts inside the tire. Wish me luck lol
 

asmith1911

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Aug 22, 2022
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I have the Smittybilt Pivot HD spare tire carrier and love it!
JeepJeezy - I just installed the same on my wife's JKU. Love the way the tire is closer to the tailgate and it's much more quiet than the previous temporary option I used. That said, the tailgate seemed to be aligned when I was hanging the cast aluminum bracket and tire carrier assembly. When I installed the wheel and tire (35" x 12.5 with 17" alum wheels) it feels like the tailgate is dragging a bit when I open and close it.

Any recommendations / tricks on realigning? I'm not convinced taking the tire off again will help as it seemed ok prior to hanging it in the first place.
 

JeepJeezy

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It's not misaligned. I had the same issue when I put on my 37x12.50r17's. Lube up the pins. I lube mine probably every other month or so.
 
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