Monday, September 25, 2023


RV Mods – Got a spare, there?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Here’s an RV modification for the travel trailer and smaller motorhome set. It’s an “If you ain’t got it, you need it” mod. When we bought our mid-20-foot range travel trailer, it didn’t take us long to scratch our heads: “Where’s the spare tire?” It was an apt question, because in the years that we had that rig, due to an originally unbeknownst misaligned axle, we needed more than a couple of whacks with a spare tire.

Two square u-bolts hold this non-folding carrier on the 4″ square tube bumper.

Do you have a spare tire carrier on your rig? No, we’re not talking about behemoth Class A units where not only do you need a spare tire, you need the likes of Samson to ride along in your basement storage to lift and fit the spare. We’re talking about a rig that uses, say, a 15- or 16-inch tire. If your rig is equipped with the typical 4-inch square tube rear bumper, then acquiring and installing this important mod is quick, inexpensive and relatively easy.

Generally there are a couple of different styles of these spare mounts, either of which should run you about $50 or so. There’s a straight-up, “non-folding” carrier that mounts to the bumper and just sits there with a spare tire on it, while its folding cousin does the same job but allows you to “fold down” the spare tire. The latter is your choice if you have a storage compartment in the rear of your rig that would be blocked by the spare tire. Just fold the unit down, access your storage, then lift (with a slight grunt) the tire back up into normal position. Here’s a link to a carrier on Amazon similar to the one pictured.

Your new carrier should arrive with “easy instructions.” They are usually easier to assemble than the “bicycle in a box” purchased for a Christmas present that you spent four hours trying to assemble a few years back. Once assembled, the unit mounts to the square tube of the bumper with square u-bolts. Make sure they’re included in your purchase. Ours weren’t, and we spent some grumpy time touring hardware stores until we found the necessary bolts.

Locating the carrier position on the bumper is largely a matter of taste. Sticking it in the middle of the bumper seemed to us like the symmetrical thing to do, until it dawned on us that we had competition for the space. Dead in the center of the bumper was where we needed to mount a hold-down bracket for our wind turbine tower, so we had to adjust the tire location out to the edge. Just make sure the spare doesn’t block tail lights or license plates. Two nuts hold the spare to the carrier. Be sure to torque them firmly, but don’t overdue it lest you tear up the threads.

Expect to spend a half-hour to an hour completing the installation. Mount the appropriately fitted spare tire on rim to your new mount, toss a tire cover over it and relax. You’re ready to attend the next blowout!

Photos: R&T De Maris

Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


  1. Aliner has a flimsy rear bumper, so E-trailer sold me a front rack for the spare over the propane tanks. Tows better too.

  2. If you order a tire carrier and the u-bolts are not included, a threaded rod will make them for you. Two 90* bends cut to length and touch up the threads with a die and you are ready to go. I would also use self locking nuts. I would also mount it opposite the license plate as close as possible to the bumper mount for added strength. Happy Trails

  3. Just another way to get more money when assembling the unit, an added charge if you want a spare tire. Who really needs the spare must have been the thought…

  4. I had no idea that an RV of any kind could be sold without a spare; doesn’t seem right. I have one on my 5’er, but dread if I would have to get it out myself, or put back the flat. Good thing I have CAA! (Canadian version of AAA)

  5. Those are a good idea. However, make sure the bumper can take the load of a tire hanging on it, especially in the center of the bumper, or you may end up with a twisted bumper or a broken weld.

    • Exactly! That square tube is not really a bumper on some travel trailers (like my Casita), but merely a thin sheet-metal sewer hose carrier.


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