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Off-Road Unloaded - Letters To The Editor - May 2011

Shop Rag
Posted May 1, 2011

Letters To The Editor

Letters of the Month
Death Race 2: Unrated is on Blu-ray combo packs, and DVD and is available now where movies are sold. This issue all writers on this page are Letter-of-the-Month winners! They'll each receive a Death Race 2 DVD, mini took kit, and shop rag to keep in their trucks.

I have a 97 4Runner, and I have been building and wheeling the past few years. On a recent outing I found myself wishing I had easier access to the spare tire. I know that Toyota offered a swing-a-way spare-tire carrier for the second-gen 4Runner from the factory, but not the third-gen like mine. Have you ever heard of anyone retrofitting the second-gen tire carrier onto a third-gen? I heard once that Toyota offered a swing-a-way tire carrier on third-gen Hilux Surf (non-U.S.) vehicles, so I’m thinking the body will be strong enough to handle the weight of a 285-sized tire. I don’t have the cash for a custom rear bumper/tire carrier so this option, if doable, seems the way to go for me. I would love to just mount the spare to the roof, but I barely fit into the garage the way it is. Any input would be great. Thanks for a great mag!
Justin Kolbus
Rosholt, WI

Our in-house 4Runner owner, Contributing Editor Kevin Blumer, has some insight:

I’ve never looked closely at the ’90-to-’95 factory tire carrier, but on the whole Toyota sheet metal is pretty thin, and I’d hesitate to hang anything substantial off of it.

Spares carried on the roof are a bad idea in general. You end up dealing with a higher center of gravity, reduced overhead clearance, garage-door issues, and parking-structure issues. And they’re a medical condition waiting to happen when you lift them off of and back onto the roof.

The best solution I’ve found so far is to carry the spare inside, flat on the floor behind the second-row seat. My ’04 4Runner has four factory tie-down loops that I use. It’s not ideal, but I’ve made it work so far. The best solution is going to be some sort of internal storage rack. I’m brainstorming one for my own ’Runner, but no final design yet.

One possible way to make a body-mounted swing-away tire carrier work would be to install internal reinforcement plates behind the body panel that the carrier is attached to. Ditto for the other side where the latch would go. Look behind the trim panels for places that were reinforced from the factory with multiple layers of sheet metal or internal braces. These would be good areas to attach to. Spread the hinge points far apart (vertically) to spread the load out and give the sheet metal the best chance of survival.

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