Stop The Rattle! Tire Carrier Upgrade for the Jeep Wrangler JL [Video]
It’s one of the most recognizable features of the Jeep Wrangler- the full-size spare tire sitting on the back. While it might not seem like a big deal, the fact that Jeep engineered the 2018 to present Jeep Wrangler JL to accommodate something as large as a 33-inch-tall tire direct from the factory is fantastic. Even better, Jeep upgraded the tailgate from the previous generation JK with an all-new magnesium tailgate designed to be much stronger.
Although, we concede that the JL tailgate is an absolute upgrade, it doesn’t change the fact that when you outfit it with an oversized tire, it puts a tremendous amount of leverage on the stock tailgate. This is something we can personally attest to as our 35x12.50R17 Nitto Ridge Grappler dances around quite a bit on our JL Rubicon. (Something we document in the video above.)
There’s no question that there are plenty of avenues to choose from when it comes to finding a better way to carry a full-size spare on the JL platform. For us, we wanted something that would not only take the stress off the tailgate but be a combo of sorts so we can get rid of our JL’s stock plastic rear bumper. Also critical was that it be easy to use. Adding additional levers or complexity wasn’t going to cut it on a vehicle that multiple members of our family drive.
Checking all these boxes and then some was the bumper and tire carrier combo from Expedition One. We’ve used Expedition One bumpers in the past and appreciate their well throughout designs and quality product. Given that the company’s Trail Series 2 rear bumper is designed to hold up to a 40-inch-tall tire, our 35-inch Ridge Grappler would be no sweat. This fact also meant our upgrade could grow with the Jeep, so we don’t have to worry about swapping this carrier system out when we inevitably move up to a taller tire.
While we cover everything you need to know if the video above, we’re highlighting a few more details in the article below.
The biggest reason for moving to a more durable tire carrier was due to the fact we upgraded our JL with a larger set of tires and aftermarket wheels. While our suspension remains stock, we’ve managed to fit on a 35x12.50R17 Nitto Ridge Grappler. Pairing it with a 17-inch Venom Rex wheel, our setup sticks out a bit further over the stock wheel thanks to less backspacing. This didn’t help the situation on our tailgate.
Being able to open and close the back of the Jeep easily was extremely important. The way Expedition One is able to make this a reality is by using an arm that connects the swing arm to the tailgate. Using polyurethane bushings to ensure there is enough give, this setup allows you to simply use the original tailgate handle to open and close the gate. Thanks to an integrated lock-out mechanism, you can make sure your tailgate stays put when your Jeep is parked a bit off-camber.
Build to Suit
Want to haul some extra fuel or HiLift Jack? You can take care of all of this with optional mounts available from Expedition One. Included with our Trail Series 2 bumper were 1-inch shackle mounts along with spots for LED lights. We also opted to have ours coated with a textured black powder coat finish.
Since our JL came with the stock plastic rear bumper from the factory, moving up to the 3/16-steel Expedition One setup was a major upgrade in strength. We also gained a little clearance overall. Of course, the most important feature is the fact that it holds the spare tire in place significantly better than stock. If we do need to make room for a different wheel set or taller tire, we can adjust the mounts on the tire carrier relatively easily.