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Jeep Wrangler Tire Carrier Shootout

Rear View
Pete Trasborg
| Brand Manager, Jp
Posted August 8, 2007

Thirteen Bumpers Tested!

For better than a year now, we've been testing rear bumper/tire carriers from 13 manufacturers. We used different Jeeps to see how they bolt up and to maximize the amount of use (abuse) each tire carrier saw before getting taken out of the rotation.

What you might not know is from '87-'06, the bolt holes in the rear crossmember of the Wrangler basically stayed the same. And for at least '91-'06, the tapped and threaded holes in the bottom of the frame stayed in the same location. What that means is, often, a unit made for a YJ will fit a TJ and vice versa. Our test Jeeps were a '92 YJ, a '94 YJ, a '97 TJ and an '01 TJ.

For the test, each bumper was bolted onto the first Jeep exactly as the instructions said, with close attention being paid to their accuracy. A rating of 1 would be a set of instructions that had nothing to do with how the bumper was actually put on, and a rating of 5 would be given to the instructions that explain each step exactly. After the bumper was on, we looked for a few things:

* Ease of use: Did it require one hand to open and close the carrier (that would be a rating of 5), or did it require two hands, a foot, a spotter, and a degree in nuclear physics (a rating of 1).

* Rattle and vibration: You might think the two things would go hand in hand, but that's not necessarily the case. The vibration rating looks at how much the carrier with the tire attached moved back and forth as it was being driven. A vibration rating of 1 would mean it vibrated enough that the carrier actually hit the Jeep going down the road, while a rating of 5 meant very little vibration at all. The rattle rating looks at how loud the carrier itself is. A loose latch, poor attachment to the Jeep, or bolts working themselves loose can all contribute to a 1 rating. A tight latch and hinge, good frame tie-ins, a well-thought-out tire mount, and low noise level would result in a rating of 5.

* Durability rating (aka, the test of time): We put about 5,000 miles on each bumper, both on- and off-road, and took notes as we went along. At the end, we compared notes about how things did or didn't come loose, and we looked at the overall design of the unit to come up with the rating. Frame tie-ins are a big part of this. If you just bolt the bumper to your thin rear crossmember without tying it into the Jeep's frame, the first decent pull on it will destroy your crossmember. Also, if the hinge is in a single-shear configuration (only the bottom of the hinge at the swing arm is attached to the bumper), then there will be flex at the point that the hinge goes through the bumper. If the pivot is welded at that point, it will put a lot of stress on the metal, which can result in either the hinge pin or the surrounding metal of the bumper breaking.

The following are the bumpers we've tested in alphabetical order. We've included our favorite and least favorite part of each, as well as a brief overview of the bumper. Check out the chart for all the nitty-gritty details.

Tire Carrier Shootout
Company Name Model # Price as Tested Recovery Points Receiver Hitch Hi-Lift Mount Max Tire Size Frame Tie-In Instruction Rating Ease of Use Rating
Rattle Rating
Vibration Rating
Perceived Durability Rating
4WD hardware
360698
$549.99
No
Yes
No
35-inch
Yes
4
5
4.5
3
3
A to Z Fabrication
{{{200}}}-RBTC
$794.{{{90}}}
Yes
Yes
No
37-inch
No
4
4
5
3
4
ARB
TJ-Bumper
$1,296.99
Yes
Yes,to wrated
Yes
35-inch
Yes
4.5
4
5
4.5
5
Big Daddy
Off-Road
RB-304-TCC, RB-311-TCJM
$629
Yes
Yes
Optional
Unspecified
Yes
4
3
5
4.5
4.5
Body Armor
YJ-2991
$998.95
Yes
Yes
Yes
35-inch
Yes
3 3 5 4 5
CurrieEnterprises
CE-9173W
$679.95
No
Yes
No
40-inch
Yes 3 3 4 4 4
{{{Durango}}} 4x4
DGO3001T,DGO4006
$795
Yes
Yes
Optional
No size limit
Yes 4 5 3 3 3
Fab fours
Y1050
$1,155
Yes
Yes
Yes
40-inch
Yes 4 4.5 5 4 4.5
{{{M}}}.O.R.E JRB900 $995 Yes Yes, load rated Yes 37-inch Yes 5 5 5 3 3
Olympic 4x4 Products
553-11X, 700,707
$549.75
No
Yes
No
36-inch
Yes 3 3 2 3 2
Rock Hard 4x4
RH2001-C
$729.95
Yes
Yes,
Class 2
Yes
38-inch
Optional 2 5 4.5 4.5 5
Tomken
TMC-0104-TC,TMR-7198-B
$488.34
Yes, posts
Yes
Optional
35-inch
Yes 2 3 5 3 3
Warn
PN 65509, PN 64337
$649.49
No
Yes
No
37-inch
Yes 4.5 3 4 5 4

Check Out The Web
As you might imagine, more than a year of testing with more than 50 bumper install/uninstalls and more than 50,000 cumulative miles of testing leads to a lot more information than we'd really be able to fit in these four pages. So we went ahead and dumped our notes on www.jpmagazine.com. You'll be able to see the tools we used to actually get the bumpers on the Jeep, many more pictures of each bumper, and our rating notes-such as installation, rattle and vibration, and usage tidbits. We've also got optional items for the bumpers listed, the materials they were made out of, the latch type, hinge type, and all other kinds of info. If you're in the market for a bumper/tire carrier, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

The JP Magazine bumper
Along the way, there were things that really stood out as exceptional and things we wished would just go away. We'd love to see a bumper built from those exceptional things.

Our ultimate bumper would have the ARB frame tie-ins, but it would bolt in through sleeved holes in the bumper like the 4WD Hardware unit and install as easily as the Fab Fours bumper. It would also have the Rock Hard 4x4 latch design and tailgate support-bar system, A to Z Fabrication's heavy-duty mounting plate and beefy shackle mounts, a double-shear taper roller bearing hinge, or at least a hinge and stop like the one on the Body Armor unit (a version that retains the hinge pin better, that is). We'd also like to see it with a high-lift mount like the Mountain Off Road Unit, some kind of rock light or backup light mounts, and a hold-open design like the Big Daddy Off-Road bumper (bulletproof). It would hold the tire close to the Jeep-low enough that you can still see out the back window, but high enough to not hang it up on everything.

Sources

Currie Enterprises
714-528-6957
www.currieenterprises.com
Fab Fours
Pineville, NC 28134
866-385-1905
www.fabfours.com
4WD Hardware
N/A, AK
800-555-3353
www.4wd.com
Olympic 4x4 Products
City of Commerce, CA 90040
323-726-6988
ARB
866-293-9078
www.arbusa.com
A to Z Fabrication
atzfabrication.com
Big Daddy Off-Road
www.bigdaddyoffroad.com
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