Learn how to mount a Smittybilt tire carrier on your Jeep with the help of this article.By Jerry Perez – November 20, 2015

This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).

The spare tire carrier in your Jeep is the big bracket mounted on your tailgate, which main purpose is to hold the spare tire for that dreaded moment when you might need it. Unfortunately, the stock tire carrier can only hold stock wheel and tire sizes, so it must be upgraded if you fit off-road tires and wheels on your Jeep. The Smittybilt tire carrier offers a wide range of fittings, which makes it easy to adapt to many wheel and tire combinations available in the market. Use this guide to learn how to remove your old tire carrier and install a new Smittybilt model.

Materials Needed

  • Lug nut wrench
  • Torx T20 driver
  • Ratchet wrench
  • 13mm socket

Step 1 – Remove spare tire

In order to remove the stock tire carrier, you must first remove the spare tire. Follow these steps:

  • Remove the spare tire lock (if equipped).
  • Use the lug nut wrench to loosen the bolts.
  • Finish removing bolts by hand.
  • Carefully dismount the spare tire.

Figure 1. Removed spare tire.

Step 2 – Remove stock tire carrier

With the spare tire out of the way, now you can access the bolts that hold the tire carrier in place. Follow these steps to remove it:

  • Use the Torx 20 driver and ratchet wrench to remove the four bolts that hold the tail light in place.
  • Disconnect the tail light wiring connector.
  • Install the 13mm socket on your ratchet wrench, and remove the eight bolts holding the tire carrier in place.

Figure 2. Remove tail light and disconnect wiring.

Figure 3. Undo tire carrier bolts.

  • Figure 4. It doesn’t hurt to clean this area while at it.

Step 3 – Prep Smittybilt carrier

With the factory setup out of the way, you must now take a few measurements to assure proper fitting. Follow these steps:

  • Assemble your Smittybilt tire carrier per the included instructions.
  • Lay your spare tire flat on the ground with the front facing side against the floor.
  • Lay the Smittybilt tire carrier on top and figure out which holes assure the best bolting pattern and fit.

Figure 5. Measure fitment.

Step 4 – Install Smittybilt tire carrier

With the factory setup removed and the proper measurements taken, it’s time to mount the new tire carrier and finish the job. Follow these steps:

  • Mount the Smittybilt tire carrier on your tailgate using the appropriate holes. Keep in mind you will only use four bolts instead of the original eight.
  • Use the 13mm socket and ratchet wrench to tighten down the bolts properly.
  • Attach the stock tail light to the new Smittybilt tail light bracket included with the tire carrier.
  • Plug in the tail light wiring connector.
  • Bolt on the side holding bars on the tire carrier. (These are to keep the tire from shaking while driving.)
  • Mount the spare tire.
  • Install the locking mechanism.

Figure 6. Bolt Smittybilt tire carrier.

Figure 7. Attach stock tail light to bracket.

Figure 8. Bolt holding bars.

  • Figure 9. Job Complete.

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