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March 2009 4x4 Truck Tech Questions - Tech Line

Willie Worthy | Writer
Posted March 1, 2008

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Wants To Lighten Her Load With Heavier Tires
Question: I just bought a new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and plan to add a lift kit and either 35- or 37-inch tires to it. With what I see advertised, I am going to need a new spare-tire holder of some type for the larger tire. Now here is the problem. I am a girl. OK, girls also buy Jeeps-but I am just a bit over 5 feet tall and weigh about 110 pounds. While recently at a tire store searching for what tire I wanted, I found that I could barely pick up that size of a tire and know that I never could pick it up when mounted to a rim. If I should get a flat tire, I think I could get it mounted on the vehicle's axle, but no way am I going to be able to lift it off or put it back on the spare-tire holder. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this, or would it be OK just to use the factory spare tire? Besides that, four tires and rims are a lot less expensive than five.
Marsha Mason
Los Angeles, CA

Answer: Yep, you sure are right, those 37-inch tires are rightly heavy and expensive. I run 37s on my own Jeep, and at 6 feet and 190 pounds, I have a very difficult time with my spare. In fact, my spare, just for that reason, is usually a 6.00x16 at 30 inches tall. What do I do if I get a flat? Hope that I don't!

OK, I carry one of ARB's tire-repair kits (www.arbusa.com) and a PowerTank (www.powertank.com) and hopefully can do a trail fix to get me back and not have to use the spare. I have Detroit Lockers front and rear, so it's really important that the rear tires are equal height. Up front I have locking hubs, so I can turn out one hub and mount the small tire on that side and get back with three-wheel drive if necessary.

You're going to ask how I get the larger tire back on the tire holder should I need my spare? Hopefully, I am with some other people, or if alone I plan to hide it someplace and call in a favor from one of my much stronger buddies to come and get it.

So the answer is yes, you can run a smaller tire on either axle of your Rubicon as long as the axle is not locked up. I would suggest you go through the painful motions of swapping a front tire to the back if you should get a rear flat, and drive in two-wheel drive as much as possible and hope that you have some strong friends to do the work for you.

There is one other idea that I just came across a few days ago. I happened to see a press release for a Rubicon spare-tire holder that not only swings out for tailgate access, but will also fold down. It's one of those "why didn't I think of that" ideas. The company that makes it is Olympic 4x4 Products (www.olympic4x4products.com). The company also has a new line of "high-end" Smuggler front and rear bumpers for the '07-'09 JKs that offer several advantages over what is presently on the market. The tire carrier and bumpers will be on the market the first of the year, or about the time this is published.

Wants To Convert IFS Toyota To Solid Axle
Question: On my '93 Toyota pickup, are there kits to swap to a straight axle, or does it come with an axle so I don't have to find one?
Wayne Donaghey
Cato, NY

Answer: All Pro Off Road (951/658-7077, www.allprooffroad.com), is just one of the places that comes to mind when I think of solid front axle conversion kits, and the company has a kit to fit the '89-'95 Toyota pickups. However, they do not come with an axle, which you will need to source locally. Even if you could talk them into supplying you with an axle, the shipping cost from the shop in California to your home in New York would negate any benefits gained due to the high freight charges.

Just for fun, I Googled "Toyota solid front axle conversion" and got, well, a lot more hits than I would ever have time to look at on the subject. You just might want to do the same, as I found some pretty good information.

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