When a Jeep aftermarket product company makes a piece of equipment so well that Chrysler Jeep makes that product an optional upgrade on new Jeeps, all jeepers should pay attention.
This is exactly what has happened with the TeraFlex tire carrier.
Stock Jeeps operate just fine with the stock tire carrier on the open road and on light trails. But if you get bigger (read: heavier) tires, and try and put that tire on your stock carrier you are going to have problems.
The JK Alpha HD Hinged TeraFlex Tire Carrier is the solution that Chrysler Jeep themselves trusts.
Disclosure: TeraFlex sponsors GUARDIAN, my 2014 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited, and products were provided by TeraFlex to Jeepsies in consideration for this article. All opinions remain my own.
The Reasons for the TeraFlex Tire Carrier
The Jeep Wrangler is a phenomenal vehicle. Owners of the Jeep Wrangler tend to be fanatics. For most of us it isn’t just a vehicle, it is a lifestyle. Each of us tend to ‘mod’ out our Jeeps to our liking.
Arguably the most popular mods are bigger tires and a lift. We all want that mean look and off road functionality. But while many folks spend their mod dollars on a lift, wheels, and tires, they tend to forget about the spare tire carrier.
Simply put, the stock Jeep rear tire carrier was not designed for larger tires or more extreme conditions. If you put a heavier tire on your stock spare tire carrier you are eventually going to damage your carrier and possibly rip apart your tailgate.
The tailgate on the Jeep Wrangler as it comes off the factory floor is made up of two parts, an inner and outer shell. These two shells are spot welded on the inside. This factory build is sufficient for the stock tire, tailgate, and tire carrier. In short, the stock Jeep tire carrier and tailgate are designed to hold up to 50lbs of weight. So if you are keeping it stock, you should be fine. But who does that?
When you add heavier tires it will eventually not only damage the carrier, but it can literally rip apart those spot welds that hold the two shells of the tailgate together.
So in 2012, the team at TeraFlex came up with a new and improved design for the spare tire carrier and tailgate. The TeraFlex design solved all of the issues for anyone wanting to run up to a 37 tire. TeraFlex dubbed their design the JK Alpha HD hinged tire carrier.
The JK Alpha HD Hinged TeraFlex Tire Carrier
This innovative TeraFlex tire carrier system was focused on simplicity and durability.
The team at TeraFlex opted to maintain the factory look and functionality of the stock carrier. In other words, the tailgate still opens and closes all in one action and with one hand just like the stock version. That however, is where the similarities end.
The Research and Development team at TeraFlex took advantage of a structural piece on the passenger side corner of the ‘tub’ of the Jeep. They found it was sufficient to bear the heavy weight of larger tires that the TeraFlex tire carrier would be carrying.
Part of their design involves forged hinges that were placed in this corner. By bearing the weight of the larger tires predominately on this forged hinge attached to the tub of the Jeep, the team at TeraFlex was able to take the majority of the weight off of the tailgate itself.
TeraFlex wanted it simple, and strong. They succeeded.
Beyond this, the TeraFlex tire carrier also features an adjustable mount so that tires up to 37″ can be carried. As you continue to upgrade your tires from 32-37s you can still use the TeraFlex tire carrier. Trust me, once you get 33s you’re going to want 35s, then you’ll be glancing over at those 37s your buddy has. At least you can use the same tire carrier!
The adjustable mount doesn’t only allow for larger tires, but it also telescopes in and out. The reason for this is so that you can push your spare tire closer to the tailgate and bump stops. It is super easy to adjust too. This feature keeps the rattling down to a minimum and offers less wear and tear on the Jeep.
TeraFlex Tire Carrier Installation
The TeraFlex team wanted to make sure installation was easy. So their design involves no drilling or wiring whatsoever. The total installation time is less than 2 hours.
If you want to see the official TeraFlex installation video you can watch that here. The installation portion starts at the two minute mark. JK Alpha HD Hinged Tire Carrier Installation
You can do it yourself or have a shop do it for you. As a disabled veteran I opted to have the guys at Just Jeeps in Austin, Texas install my TeraFlex tire carrier. I’m really thankful for these guys.
TeraFlex Tire Carrier Final Thoughts
I waited for a little bit before writing this article on purpose. I’ve had my TeraFlex tire carrier on my Jeep for just shy of two months. I’ve run my Jeep on some pretty challenging off road trails since then and driven several thousand miles.
There has been no sagging of my tailgate, and no rattling at all. I’m really pleased with this unit and would highly recommend it to anyone considering their options for a Jeep tire carrier. The JK Alpha HD hinged tire carrier retails for $699.99 as of this writing and is worth every penny.
I’m heading to SuperLift ORV park in Hot Springs, Arkansas this weekend. They have three Jeep Badge of Honor Trails there. Time to put this TeraFlex tire carrier to yet another test.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.