Fab Fours JK Rear Tire Carrier & Bumper Review [Video]
A strong distinction that separates the ‘wheeling hobby from many other automotive pastimes is the remoteness that comes with going off-road. Traveling far beyond the beaten path means you have to be self-reliant. While hauling a fullsize spare tire is something every ‘wheeler should do, as tires get larger, it can become more difficult.
For those owning a 2007 to current Jeep Wrangler JK, the aftermarket is full of tire carrier options. The tire size and intended use of the Jeep can often dictate with bumper/tire carrier is the best fit for you. Last year, we equipped a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara with Eibach’s All-Terrain 3.5-inch lift. This setup allowed for a 35-inch-tall tire, and that’s what the Jeep’s been running ever since.
As the owners continue to embark on more adventures, they looked to improve over the stock spare tire carrier. Since this JK is daily driven, a large determining factor for which bumper would serve them best was if it was a single-action carrier. Single action means there are no additional steps needed to open the rear gate on the Jeep. After looking at the available options, they landed on an off-the-gate tire carrier and bumper combo from Fab Fours.
To check out the setup for ourselves, we stopped by Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the bumper was getting installed.
To clear out space for the Fab Fours carrier, you’ll need to disconnect the third brake light wire, which you can find behind the plastic panel on the interior portion of the tailgate. Next, remove the eight bolts that securing the stock tire carrier to the tailgate.
The stock bumper is attached by a total of six bolts. Two in the center and two per each exterior bracket. It’s extremely lightweight, so it’s easy to pull off once unbolted. If your JK is equipped with a receiver hitch, you can leave it in place.
To secure the bumper in place, Fab Fours provides brackets that slide into the rear framerail of the JK. On the driver side, you can simply bolt-in the bracket using the provided grade 8 hardware.
For the passenger side framerail, you’ll need to use the metal template to mark the spots for the three lower holes. While there is an alignment tab to make sure you stay straight, we found a set of vice clamps were helpful as an extra set of hands.
Using an electric drill, start by stepping your way up with a few bits until you get to the exact size needed. Be sure to clean out the framerail and around the holes once you are finished. Finally, hit the exposed metal with some black paint.
With the bumper brackets now in place, you can attach the Fab Fours bumper. You can actually purchase the Fab Fours bumper separately and upgrade to the tire carrier later if you want. The bumper is comprised of 3/16-inch steel and came fit with a black powdercoat finish.
Since this JK opted for the off-the-door tire carrier option, the next step was to slide on the tire carrier to the post. Once on, you’ll bolt on the exterior mounting brace, which helps to ensure you won’t have any trouble with the carrier coming loose on the trail.
Since this tire-carrier system latches to the stock tailgate, Fab Fours provides a heavy duty resting plate for the assembly to sit in. This setup attaches using the existing eight holes in the tailgate.
On the inside of the tire carrier, you’ll have a tubular bracket system that is what will press against the rubber brackets on the tailgate. You’ll need to keep these loose for now, as they will need to be fine-tuned once the tire is on.
Since the tire carrier and tailgate pivot at different locations, they don’t travel on the same arch. To adjust for this, Fab Fours uses dual high-misalignment turnbuckles that allow you to adjust the fit and swing of the door perfectly.
To mount the spare tire, a bolt-on tire rack is included. Fab Fours makes a few accessories for the gate-style carriers, hence the multiple accessory holes. The included carrier mount is set with three grade 8 studs in a 5 on 5 wheel bolt pattern configuration.
This JK is running a 35x12.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler, which is mounted on a 17-inch ATX Chamber Pro II beadlock wheel. There’s definitely room to fit a much larger tire, so if this JK increases its tread size down the road, the tire carrier can accommodate it.
If you use your cargo area frequently, we highly recommended this style of single-action tire carrier. Since the off-the-gate Fab Fours bumper allows you to use the stock tailgate handle to open the ‘gate, there isn’t an extra lever to fiddle with or latch to forget.
Lock in Place:
The added weight of an oversized tire can make it difficult to keep the tailgate open on an incline. Fab Fours solved this problem by incorporating a quick-release style pin latch that automatically drops in place when you open the tailgate to its furthest point.
The final product is one we, and the owner of the JK, definitely like the look and function of. After putting some miles on the setup, the owners were happy to report that the setup has been rattle and trouble free.
Check out the video above and gallery below for more of the install, and take a look at this mean, green Fab Fours Wrangler build.