Running bigger tires on a Jeep JK Wrangler typically means you need to have them mounted on new wheels that have less backspacing. Of course, a wheel with less backspacing will cause your spare to sit further away from the tailgate when mounted on the factory tire carrier and that can be a problem. Specifically, the JK tailgate has 2 rubber isolators that were designed to apply pressure to the sidewall of your spare tire and help prevent it from jiggling around. Without them, the jiggling of your spare can and will cause damage to your tailgate. This short write-up will show you how to make your own spare tire isolator extensions that look pretty factory when all is said and done and for cheap.
For the purposes of this write-up, I have used photos from Moby and our old JKU, Nemo, to help fill in the gaps and make it more complete. In this pic, you can clearly see how the new larger spare tire mounted on Nemo's factory tire carrier no longer touched the factory isolators due to the wheel it was mounted on having less back spacing. This is the problem we will be fixing with this write-up.
What You Will Need
(2) Hockey Puck
(2) 1/2" Well Nuts
(2) 10-24 x 3" Machine Screws
(4) 10-24 Washers
• 5/16" Drill Bit
• 1" Spade Bit
• Utility Knife
• Phillips Screw Driver
Here's a shot of what all your DIY parts will look like.
1. Secure your hockey puck onto a work bench or drill press, located the center of it and then drill a hole through it using a 5/16" bit.
2. Using a 1" spade bit, drill a counter sink about 1/4" deep or however thick the head of your well nut is. Ultimately, you will want the face of the hockey puck to sit flush on the surface of your JK's tailgate.
3. Firmly grab the factory spare tire isolator and pull it free from your JK's tailgate.
4. Use a utility knife to cut the barb off the base of the isolator and then drill a hole through it using a 5/16" drill bit.
5. Place a washer onto your machine screw.
6. Insert the machine screw and washer through the open end of your spare tire isolator and the place a washer on the base of it as shown.
7. Insert the assembled spare tire isolator through the hockey puck.
8. Insert your well nut into the hole on your JK's tailgate where the factory spare tire isolator was mounted.
9. Secure your extended spare tire isolator to the well nut you installed on your tailgate.
10. Here's what your newly extended spare tire isolator should look like when all is said and done. Ideally, you want the sidewall of your spare tire to press firmly onto the isolator and to the point where it's getting squashed down. However, depending on the amount of back spacing you have on your wheel, the width of your tires or the type of tire carrier you're running, you may find it necessary to trim the factory isolator with a utility knife to give you a better fit.
I hope this write-up has been helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions.