Upgrading Your Jeep Wrangler's Spare Tire Carrier

Upgrading Your Jeep Wrangler's Spare Tire Carrier

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Andrew Boyle

There are a lot of components to the Jeep Wrangler’s signature design. One of the most recognizable elements of the Wrangler’s looks (second to the unforgettable seven-slot grille, of course) is the rear-mounted spare tire.

If you plan on upgrading your Wrangler’s wheels (and let’s face it, you are at some point), your spare tire carrier will need to be upgraded as well. The stock spare tire carrier on all Wranglers is made with the stock tires in mind, so any wheel and tire combo bigger than the factory-provided ones will not play nicely with the stock carrier. From obstructed brake lights to potentially losing your spare on the road, the consequences of an insufficient rear spare tire carrier are best to be avoided.

Upgrading your spare tire carrier on your Jeep Wrangler isn’t the simplest upgrade. There are a handful of options to mount your oversized spare wheel and tire properly. Here are several popular and reliable options for toting around an extra oversized tire on your Jeep Wrangler.

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When Your Jeep Spare Tire Carrier Needs an Upgrade

Custom Wrangler Spare Tire Cover

The stock Wrangler tire carrier is designed to support the weight of a stock wheel and tire, so it’s recommended that you upgrade your spare tire carrier if you start running any wheels or tires bigger than the stock options. That being said, smaller tire upgrades, like 33-inch tires, for example, can potentially work fine on your stock tire carrier. However, the added stress can contribute to problems down the line, so it’s best to install a spare tire carrier suited for the job at hand.

For a frame of reference, both the JL and JK Wrangler have stock spare tire carriers that have an 85 lbs capacity. While bigger wheels and tires may come into clearance issues, any increase in weight from the stock setup is liable to break your spare tire carrier.

A spare tire carrier that can’t support the weight and the size of the tires that you are running can have a number of negative consequences on your Wrangler. The stock spare tire carrier can crack when placed under too much stress, which could cause it to come loose. Losing your spare tire when out on the road or the trail can be a big pain. Not only could you lose your special wheel and tire, but you could injure someone else with the debris, and be out of luck in the situation that you actually need a replacement tire.

Wrangler Spare Tire Carrier Options

There are a couple of go-to ways to prepare your Wrangler for a larger spare tire. There are spare tire relocators that move the position of the rear spare tire, as well as fortify its mounting to the Wrangler. Then there are rear bumpers that have integrated spare tire carriers that can hold quite large amounts of weight. Finally, there are direct replacement spare tire carriers that are stronger and more robust versions of the spare tire carriers that come on Jeep Wranglers from the factory.

Beyond the spare tire carrier itself, there are a few other things that you ought to keep in mind. For one, some spare tire carriers can potentially block your brake lights. This can either be a part of the spare carrier’s design or a fault of the dimensions of the oversized tire. Regardless, make sure that your brake light will be visible with your setup, and if not, be sure to purchase a brake light relocation kit as well.

Additionally, you might need to relocate your rear license plate as well. Not all upgraded spare tire carriers for your Wrangler necessarily interfere with your license plate’s location, but if they do, there are alternate ways to mount them. For example, there are kits that allow the rear license plate to be attached to the center of the rear tire.

Upgraded Spare Tire Carrier on the Trails

Upgrades for Smaller Wheels and Tires

If you plan on running a 33-inch wheel for example, then a spare tire relocator or direct spare tire carrier replacement are your best options. These are easy to install and can quickly give you the added performance that you need.

These spare carriers also work nicely with aftermarket rear bumpers. They don’t infringe on most potential rear bumper’s clearance, so you won’t be locking yourself out of any mods down the line with this choice.

Installing one of these spare tire carriers only requires a few torx bolts and a couple of minutes. One of the things that a lot of people express concern over is the fact that these spare tire carriers don’t replace the hinges on the Wrangler’s tailgate. While too much weight could potentially break this part of your Wrangler, it can handle the extra weight of the oversized tire.

Upgrades for Large Wheels and Tires

If you plan on running absolutely massive tires, however, then a rear bumper with an attached spare tire mount is preferable. These can support the most weight, and can subsequently handle spare wheels and tires of practically any size. You’d have to seriously hunt to find a set of wheels and tires bigger than one of these could hold.

However, this isn't all you'll have to take care of. If you plan on running a large set of tires, however, you do need to account for your brake lights. There are several options available that relocate your Wrangler’s brake light to a visible place. One of these examples is a light stalk that peeks above the tire. This particular spare tire carrier from Smittybilt comes with the aforementioned brake light extender that can handle tires up to 37 inches.

If you don’t want to be limited, however, then another great option is a brake light ring that can be installed on the inside of your spare tire. These flashy rings of red light are not only a great safety improvement to your Wrangler, but they look quite cool as well.

Spare Tire With Brake Light Circle

If you don’t have any reason to want to upgrade your Jeep Wrangler's spare tire carriers, then you might want to browse our selection of wheels and tires first. Once you find the wheels and tires you want, then you’ll surely be needing a spare tire holder to match.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.