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AEV’s Rear Bumper and Tire Carrier Install

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on July 16, 2015
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You can never truly appreciate aftermarket support until you’ve owned a vehicle with little to none. Over the years, we’ve had plenty of odd-ball wheelers that have allowed us to hone our fabrication skills. One upgrade we’ve had to create from scratch is a rear bumper/spare tire carrier. Through trial-and-error, we’ve learned what we need and what we can absolutely due without.

All of this information made it much easier to commit to a rear bumper upgrade on our ’07 Wrangler Unlimited. First off, we didn’t want something absurdly heavy. There is no need to add extra steel to something just for the sake of adding more steel. Secondly, it had to carry a fullsize spare. In our case, this meant a 37-inch-tall tire. Additionally, we were looking for something easy to operate so our significant other wouldn’t have to mess about with an assortment of latches.

Sure, style, clearance, price, and accessory mounts were all on the table as well, but the main boxes had to be checked first. Not surprisingly, there are a few bumpers that fit our criteria, but none did it better than the one from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). In addition to having all of our must-have requirements, the company’s rear tire carrier and bumper combo offered a form-fit design we were attracted.

Spending an afternoon in the shop, we were able to get the bumper secured in place with relative ease. You will find that this is really a two-person job, as fitting some of the pieces can be awkward by yourself. As of writing this, we’ve had the Jeep out on a few wheeling adventures (including a week spent at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab). We’ve certainly banged and scraped the rear and put the recovery points to good use along the way. So far, we couldn’t be happier with the setup and will continue to put it to good use as our wheeling schedule is filling up fast for the year.

What makes the AEV tire carrier a one-touch latch is that it connects to the JKs stock tailgate. Once you remove the factory spare tire mount, you can access the four tailgate mounting holes. The landing pad you see in the middle is designed to be adjustable so you can properly align the lower section of the tire carrier when it’s in the closed position.
The spindle housing bolts directly to the passenger side framerail and only requires minor drilling to install. A set of shims are also provided to ensure proper fit and alignment of the carrier assembly.
Understanding that wheel backspacing can range from one JK to the next, AEV made the tire mount adjustable. Allowing the mount to telescope is a single bolt placed at the back of the mount. Depending on your wheel’s backspacing, you will use either the long or short bolt provided. The upper bolt you see pictured is a set screw that helps secure the mount in place and prevent it from rattling. This setup is designed to support up to a 40-inch-tall tire.
While many companies choose to use wheel bearings as a pivot point for the tire carrier, AEV opted to go with one-piece bronze bushings. The reason being is that the riffled bushings support the tire carrier’s spindle over a broader surface area, which equates to a more solid mount that doesn’t require constant adjustment.
This is one of the key elements in what sets the AEV tire carrier apart from many others. The tie rod you see is engineered to ride perpendicular to the stock tailgate. Doing so allows the rod to become a tensioning mechanism that can be easily adjusted.
At 56 pounds, the AEV rear bumper isn’t overly heavy. One novel way AEV saves weight while improving function is with the custom molded water tanks. Comprised of 1⁄4-inch-thick cross-link polyethylene, the tanks are tied in together via a hose that links one to the other.
At 56 pounds, the AEV rear bumper isn’t overly heavy. One novel way AEV saves weight while improving function is with the custom molded water tanks. Comprised of 1⁄4-inch-thick cross-link polyethylene, the tanks are tied in together via a hose that links one to the other.
If you’re like us, you probably wondered how in the heck you would get the 4.8 gallons of water out of the tanks. Our query was answered with the AEV hand pump. It’s a $35 option, which we wish was standard with the kit. Though we are told that it’s safe to drink out of the FDA-approved potable water storage tanks, we still haven’t used it for much more than washing off dirt our hands.
AEV gets that you’re likely going to knock the rear bumper on obstacles from time to time. In order to take those licks, the company crafted 0.250-wall mandrel bent tubes that tie the bumper directly to the frame.
The AEV rear bumper and tire carrier can actually be used without or without the other. This means you can rock your stock bumper with a much improved tire carrier or simply go with the clean look of the AEV rear bumper. Since the rear bumper ties directly into the JK’s frame rails, both the D-ring mounts are functional and strong. The rear bumper also has provisions for a Hi-Lift mount on either side, which we’ve already made good use of a time or two. AEV’s bumper also works with the stock receiver hitch, which our JK didn’t have.
AEV has an assortment of rear bumper accessories and mounts. From Hi-Lift Jack holders to backup lights, you can load up the bumper a number of different ways. We’re running a 17-inch KMC Slab beadlock and 37-inch Nitto Trail Grappler tire. This setup isn’t light by any stretch, so we didn’t want to add to more weight the package. We also prefer the uncluttered appearance of the bumper/tire carrier combo. While you still have to be mindful that the tire does stick out quite a bit, we rarely came close to hitting it. Overall, we are very pleased with the ease of use of the carrier and the fact that it’s been rattle free.

Sources

American Expedition Vehicles
Wixom, MI 48393
248-926-0256
www.aev-conversions.com
Iggee Inc.
714-670-2977
www.iggee.com

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