1. home
  2. how to
  3. body chassis
  4. DIY Spare Tire Carrier Fabrication

DIY Spare Tire Carrier Fabrication

We re-build our tire carrier.

Big tires under your 4x4 are cool. Trust us, the bigger the better—assuming you don't break axle shafts or roll over in a turn. Still, big tires under a 4x4 make it necessary to carry a big honkin' spare tire just in case you get a flat. Storing that big tire can be a pain in the you-know-what. Often, the best solution to this problem is to mount said huge tire on a bumper supported tire carrier.

This has been done at least 100 different ways some with varying success. Here is a rebuild of a tire carrier following a fairly simple formula with small variations on a familiar design. Lots of supply places like RuffStuff have the parts you'll need to build your own.

Spare Tire Storage Options

Generally, there are a few options when it comes to carrying a spare. Most OEMs seem to like to tuck a tire under the back of the 4x4. That's great until either your spare gets damaged by a rock, or you can't get your spare out from under the truck when you need it. That's no good for us. Another option is to put the spare on a roof rack, but that's bad for two reasons.

First, you have to get that mother up and down from there without killing yourself or anyone else, and second, it adds a ton of weight up high where it can cause the most body roll possible. No thanks. A third option is to toss the tire in the back of your rig which is great if it fits—and if it isn't buried in all your stuff when it comes time to use said spare. We reluctantly do this. The fourth option might just be the best, and it's something we've done and will do again, and it's also something several OEM auto manufacturers have adopted or at least played around with. The idea is to build a bumper or body-mounted spare tire carrier. The only drawbacks are that it will probably need to open easily, and also it needs to be strong so it can support the tire's weight and take the bashing that is inevitable with use.

A New Tire Carrier For The Ultimate International

During and after the 2020 Ultimate Adventure, it became quickly apparent that the tire carrier we had modified to fit on the Ultimate International was not happy. It was our fault because we didn't spend enough time re-engineering it to work. It was designed to work on a JK Wrangler, which has a tailgate that helped support the weight of the tire by incorporating mounts that distributed some of the forces to the JK's swing-out tailgate. The UA International has a fold-down tailgate, which didn't offer the same support, but the real issue was the modified tire carrier lacked the torsional rigidity to resist the load the 38-inch Falken WildPeak MT created. Add in lots of hard road and trail miles, and the tire carrier was twisted and as a result wouldn't close properly and one of the welds began to tear. Time to redesign a tire carrier. Here's how we did it, and hopefully now it will last!

Starting Over on Our Tire Carrier

We started with some 2x4 0.120-wall rectangular tubing and a new sleeve from Fab Fours complete with some fresh bushings. We then miter cut the rectangular tube to drop the main part of the tire carrier down a few inches, so it mated up with the flat rear surface of the bumper. Our plan is to try a more traditional tire carrier design.

Tire carrier back-bone

The main structural part of the new tire carrier is this rectangular tube. It should support the weight and resist the torsional load that the tire puts on the hinge pretty well. We will be adding some tubing and plate where the actual tire mount will go. Both of these should help make the tire carrier a strong unit.

Tire Carrier Latch

This is the latch we used on the old tire carrier. It was recommended to us by our Fabrication buddy Rob Bonney from Rob Bonney Fabrication and is produced and sold by Jergens Manufacturing. It's the biggest Ture-Lok Toggle Clamp they sell. Rob also recommended setting the latch at an angle, so the carrier is forced forward and down into the carrier stop. We accidentally set it up the wrong way on the first carrier, so it wasn't securing the carrier as well as we intended. This is the way you want the latch to be mounted. With it latched, it pulls forward and down.

Building up to hold the tire

So we used the center of a replacement tire carrier from Fab Fours as the center of our new carrier. This piece has the holes that the actual tire mount bolts to. To make it as strong as possible we are going to add some lengths of straight 1.75x .120-wall DOM to the sides.

Adding tire carrier Beef

Adding bent 1.75x.120-wall DOM to each side forming an A helps support the upright portion of the tire carrier and helps to spread the load between the hinge and the latch. Bending and cutting the tube is pretty straightforward using our bender and miter saw to adjust fitment.

Details of our DIY tire carrier

The last few steps of the build once everything is in place and test fitted is to finish weld, making the heavy tack welds permanent—or mostly permanent. We boxed in the end of the rectangular tubing, as well as the open part around the latch. This boxing helps make everything stronger.

Our new tire carrier finished and ready to go

With the finish welding done and critical parts painted we handed the Ultimate International back to its owner, our buddy, Trent McGee so he can take care of destructive testing on the unit.

More Videos