Spare Tire Carrier
Carrying the spare tire on the outside rear has been a Jeep trademark from the beginning. The original concept of utility and all terrain maneuverability made external spare mounting a practical necessity. Now days - same thing. Spares have been mounted in every conceivable location - under the rear, in front of the grill, on the hood (Land Rover style), in the doorway (WC Staff Car style), on the roof, Jeep even had standard side mounts, in the cargo space (trunk), under the rear deck and Pre-runner style. Traditionally, spare carriers are bolted to the body, the frame or a frame attachment like an all-steel bumper or receiver hitch, making them permanent.
What makes the Bonarue different is the mounting style. It slips into a 2 inch receiver and couldn't be easier to mount or dismount as the need requires. With a locking hitch pin, you could call it permanent. When the stock mounting location will suffice, it can be easily removed. Is that all there is to it? Well no, there is some Setup, Features and Considerations.
First impression of this unit is that it is heavy duty. It is all steel, fully welded, powder coated and weighs in at 45 pounds. It will support tire sizes up to 33 by 12.5. There is also an anti-rattle brace that is bolt tightened; when snug, this unit does not rattle. The setup consists of setting three bolts as wheel studs. This is simple enough, however, I found that the standard Jeep 4.5 X 5-bolt pattern is barely accommodated.
On my early model, the "stud" nuts must fit flat side against the top bracket as shown. This was a little tricky to do. Models since then are cut to easily allow for this adjustment.
Now because it mounts in the center line of the vehicle, it covers the license plate which is a "traffic" violation. To address this, the Bonarue kit contains remote a license plate bracket, hardware and wires for the light. The lighted license frame needs to be bolted on and wired up. In keeping with the remove-ability option, I wired up a male end trailer plug and routed the wires through plastic conduit for a clean look and extra abrasion protection. I'll have to think twice if I want to tow with this carrier in place. There are two wires to the license light, Black and Black/White. Black is power, only cost me one fuse to figure it out - bad odds you know.
Due to the location of hinge bolts, there are two locations at which to mount the license frame, low and mid. as seen in the photos. Even though the frame is heavy duty over-kill, 1 inch square tubing, the low position is too vulnerable while off-roading. The drawback to the mid position is that the plate may be partially obstructed depending on tire size. Owing to its semi-permanent nature, there is no installation per se, I'd call it mounting. With the license frame wired and in place, slide hitch into receiver, lock with pin, bolt on your tire and you're ready to go.
Points of interest - It should go with out saying, that with the spare mounted in this location, you'll have to rely more on the side rear view mirrors. You might feel the shift in weight when you first drive with this setup. Fortunately, the weight is placed at what is probably the single best load point on the vehicle. A tensioner is included which eliminates hitch rattle. The carrier is secured in the upright position with a latch and a lock pin that is retained by a cable. To access the tailgate, pull the pin, squeeze the handy lever on top and lower. The arm is spring loaded, thereby carrying most of the weight when raising and lowering. Due to the hitch extender, the arm only lowers to about 45 degrees, enough for the tailgate to clear. As for the hitch extender, while it looks as heavy duty as can be, it bears a warning label stating that hitch weight and towing capacity is reduced by 1/3. I would say that rules out towing my travel trailer with this spare mount in place, but the utility trailer is no problem. One last item that I add is a hitch roller which can be found at an RV supply. I normally use it when 4-wheeling without the spare carrier, so with the extended departure angle of the carrier, consider it mandatory.
In summary, since my factory size spare tire still fits in the stock location, I prefer to retain the vehicle 's clean lines. So my Bonarue spends most of its time in a corner of my garage. But it's great to have such a convenient option when I need to put the spare out back. And when my spare tire outgrows the interior of the vehicle, it's a comfort to know I've got a sturdy, hassle free place to put it.
The kit is a system, including the Carrier, Locking Hitch Pin and mountable License Plate Frame.