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Dean O 09-25-2005 08:03 PM

Install write up: Factory Swing-out spare carrier on a 97+ XJ
About 2 months ago I installed a used factory spare tire swing out carrier on my XJ and I thought it about time I write up how I made it fit on a 97+ model. Now it didnít occur to me to take pictures through out the install, so I hope the pictures Iíve taken now will still help in describing what I did.
NOTE:New resting position of rear wiper.
First off was to clean and dismantle the old spare carrier. Of course in true Jeep fashion a Torx end socket will be needed for this part. The carrier I picked up off ebay had been sitting for quote some time and had a good bit of build up dirt and some rust on it. For a few weeks prior to beginning on the dismantling of the carrier I sprayed all the bolts and nuts with PB Blaster to help loosen everything up. I first removed the large hinge shoulder bolts using the Torx end socket and a nice long breaker bar to help coax those old rusty bolts to come undone. Once those were out I had to tackle the rest of the old hardware. This carrier had been taken off the previous Jeep by cutting all the bolts. So I had to cut slots for a screwdriver to fit into and begin turning the old bolts out of the holes, long and tedious, but far from difficult.

Once the carrier was disassembled itís time to prep the mount plate for installation. Not knowing where on the bumper the carrier was supposed to be mounted I had to do some measurements of the carrier itself to determine where on the rear on the hatch the tire would sit. It ended up that the best place to mount it, and get the tire as close to center as possible, was with the right side of the mounting plate lined up with the right edge of the rear bumper. Holes were marked center punched and drilled to accommodate 3/6-16 hex bolts to hold the mounting plate in place. There is one threaded metric nut welded into the inside right rear of the mounting plate, I was unable to locate any metric sized bolts that fit the original nut, so this nut had to be drilled and tapped to also fit a 3/8-16 bolt. I used all the holes in the mounting plate save one on the lower portion of the plate. It is too close to the bumper mount to drill a new hole in the bumper and too far away from the factory bumper bolt to be used to hold the carrier mounting plate. Once all the holes were drilled the mounting plate was attached to the factory bumper. The shape of a 97+ XJ bumper is slightly different than that of the 84-96 but not so much so that it would keep this from bolting on directly without modification.
NOTE: unused hole on left.
Next step was to install the swing arm on the mounting plate itself. This particular type of swing out carrier has brass bushings in the swing arm. One of these was missing on the used carrier I purchased so I made a new one on my lathe. Once this was done I just bolted the arm into the plate and there it was. Now itís in place to align the latch mechanism.

The latch plate is where all the real custom work on this took place. The original plate that was used to latch the carrier to the rear hatch was completely incompatible with the new style hatch. The shapes are completely different. The best way I found to solve this was to cut the catch off the original plate and just make a new one to mount it to. I used a low speed band saw to cut the catch from the plate. I then attached it to the latch on the arm and pushed it against the rear of the Jeep. This showed where it needed to be mounted and what needed to be done to make it all fit. First thing I saw that was in the way was the rear wiper. I took the wiper off so I could get it out of the way the started grinding away material until the catch fit around the wiper blade post. Once I got that to fit I had to see if I could move the blade itself out of the way. I only had to reposition the arm up just a little so the wiper would not hit the new catch assembly when it comes to itís resting place. A plate was then made to go behind the catch and span all the way over to where the rubber bumper hits the rear hatch. I then made two internal plates that would serve as support plates to tie into the frame of the hatch. This is where I really wish I had thought to take pictures along the way. When you take the rear hatch lining out you will see that there is very little room to work in this area. The plates I made to go inside where about 4Ē wide and 6Ē long. About 1.5Ē from the top they were both angled so that they line up with the internal frame of the hatch. All the holes in the hatch were then marked and drilled with a sheet metal drill, then the plates and internal plates were drilled and everything was bolted up for test fitting. It worked perfect on the first try.  I only had to adjust the rubber bumpers to get the tension of the door right to that it wouldnít rattle around any and that was almost it.
New latch plate bolted in place.

This left only the tire. My spare carrier had already been modified so it would take a 31Ē tire using longer studs. I discovered after riding around with it for a few weeks that it bounced way too much. I thought this would only lead to weakening of the extended bolts and maybe even break part of the frame itself. I considered many different ways to hold tire firmly in place but ended up using the same method that Jeep has been using on the Wrangler for years. , rubber bumpers. I couldnít believe how much the dealership wanted for each of those things. 15 bucks each! So that led me to Home Depot to buy 2 cheap rubber mallets for 5 dollars each cut them in half drill holes make spacer tubes then put them on with a few more bolts and washers. Then bolt the tire back on and see if they work. You can see in the pictures that the bumpers really compress the tire a lot but thatís what it takes to hold this big 31Ē MTR and 16Ē wheel in place. It rides perfect now though. No more bouncing around and no rattles anywhere.
Three rubber bumpers provide more than enough stability for the tire.
Last but not least I relocated the license plate to the left lower corner of the hatch, added a light above it, then notched out the right rear bumper cap to fit around the carrier plate. Thatís it.
I hope this write up is helpful to those who have been wondering if you could put a factory spare carrier on a 97 and up XJ. Itís not a difficult job, just time consuming. Iíd say I spent at least 10 hours on it total.

Regen 09-25-2005 08:45 PM

Looks really good :thumbsup:

EvilSpock 09-25-2005 11:12 PM

I want one!
Where in the world did you find it?

dynamite44 09-26-2005 02:30 AM

thanks for doing the write up. i know what i'm going to get on my next trip to the junk yard.


Dean O 09-26-2005 07:46 AM

Thanks guys. I just kept searching on ebay for one and finally got lucky and found it. I paid 85.00 plus shipping for it.

01JeepXJ 12-30-2005 10:49 AM


Originally Posted by Dean O
Thanks guys. I just kept searching on ebay for one and finally got lucky and found it. I paid 85.00 plus shipping for it.

found one on there now for 189 $

I am going to try and find one thats awesome


Trippe 12-30-2005 01:58 PM

that is very well done...i'm gonna keep my eye out for one of those on ebay as well..

G.Thomas 12-30-2005 04:46 PM

That's cool as hell!:thumbsup: Guess I need to keep my eyes peeled for one as well. That one on ebay right now is a brand new never installed kit but I'm afraid right after Christmas is a bad time to want to buy things, expecially after ordering a front hitch receiver and a FSM. I should start making the junk yard rounds, no telling what I might find. Thanks for the heads up, pics and write up!

JrTjK 05-10-2006 11:54 AM

i found one of these for $110 locally and was thinking of getting it, but is the install really difficult? i want this, but at the same time i seem to break or mess something up every install i do and don't know if i should just pass the deal onto someone else who's not as afraid of ruining their ride.

x550x 05-10-2006 12:40 PM


Originally Posted by 01JeepXJ
found one on there now for 189 $

I am going to try and find one thats awesome


Andy, I'm not sure I would try that with a 33x12.50. Bad things could happen. :rofl:

homelessduck 05-10-2006 01:41 PM

I have a stock one off my 86' if anyone wants it .:thumbsup: :laugh:

russkrs 05-10-2006 02:44 PM

I didn't think the factory ones looked like that...

ksxj 05-11-2006 08:00 AM


Originally Posted by homelessduck
I have a stock one off my 86' if anyone wants it .:thumbsup: :laugh:

how much? if you could email me pics please.

4X4XJJeep 08-25-2008 09:50 PM

How do I find one of these?
Is this tire carrier avialable at the junk yards? I really like the idea.
I don't want to spend more than $ 100.00 to relocate my spare tire. I have a 31X10.5

I have been thinking about mounting it on the roof but I don't know if it will still fit in my garage.

I can't put it in the old spare tire location because I need the cargo room for my Clam Ice house.

I looked at a post or two about the hitch mounted spare tire but if I do that it will be difficult getting the Ice house to slide out of the cargo area.

Any help would be appreciated or Ideas.......:2thumbsup:

Bubba46 08-25-2008 11:40 PM

Dean O,
Great looking jeep. I think I used your pictures from a while back as inspiration for my tire carrier. Here is a little write up (car domain) I did on my install on the tire carrier on my '00 XJ. Between the two, it might help others with the same. I got mine from shipped to my door w/ all the hatch brackets for around $80-85. I probably spent another 10 on hardware.
Mine has popped open once on a trail and it does sag when fully open. When I get back from deployment, I plan on adding some support to keep the bumper from flexing while open and adding a little cable and hook to keep the tire carrier from swinging out if the latch pops while flexing.

cheers :cheers2:

The time now is 12:45 PM.

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