Fischer 4x4 Tire Carrier
I have been looking for a tire carrier to hang my 35" Goodyear MTR/k for a while now. I've looked into pretty much every carrier on the market, weighing the pros and cons of each. I knew eventually I would upgrade my rear bumper, but it wasn't high enough on my list to make spending $1000 or more on an integrated bumper/tire carrier something I wanted to do right away.. Especially because if I could figure out a way to keep the carrier OFF the bumper then it opened up a lot more opportunity to building exactly the rear I want for way less money. (Much like I did with my front bumper and sliders).
So once I decided to look only at the options which are independent of the rear bumper, I found my options limited. I could run my 35 on the stock tailgate/tire carrier.. Using a wheel spacer or one of the many adapters on the market but we have all heard the stories about busted spot welds and sagging hinges.. So that one was a "no" for me. I could buy the Or-Fab tire carrier and deal with having to drill into the body, making it an irreversible modification.. (Also something I wanted to avoid). Another option was the Teraflex.. But while I really liked the design, I thought the price tag to go along with it made it the single-most overpriced JK mod on the shelf, in a market already over-flowing with overpriced JK mods.
Then I stumbled upon Fischer 4x4.. And after email correspondence with Curt Fischer I decided that I liked the design enough to pull the trigger. I had Curt ship one to the US/Canada border, and drove across the line to bring the first Fischer 4x4 tire carrier onto Canadian soil. Woot!
Following is my experience with the carrier. Installation, finished photos, and general review highlighting pros and cons:
The carrier arrived fully assembled, primed, and ready for paint. I like this feature as it gives you an option to color-match the paint if so desired. I opted not to color-match but that was more for convenience and availability than preference. As soon as I pulled it out of the box I was impressed with how stout the thing is. It is heavy duty for sure.. And I see no issue whatsoever with putting the weight of the spare, the tailgate, and whatever else I could throw on the back via some modifications. It'll handle the weight for sure.
I took it outta the box, set up a painting station in my shop, and went to town. I sprayed the whole thing with bedliner, (except the actual hinges which I didn't want the thick paint on because of the moving components). Once the bedliner dried I gave the entire carrier a few coats of satin black to finish it off. Unfortunately I did not take any pics of the painting process. (And I apologize in advance for the quality -or lack thereof- of the pics to follow in general. I did not see the effect of the terrible lighting until after I had completed the install)
First step towards actual installation was to remove the stock carrier. Above is the setup I'd been running for a couple months. I had to use a wheel spacer to get the spare on but it sat too far from the tailgate, and I figured it was only a matter of time before it did damage. (Carrier removal is self explanatory.. If you need instruction for that then you shouldn't have a jeep). Unplug the third brake light though and save it, because you can modify it to work with this carrier.
After removing the stock carrier, it was time to remove the old hinges. To remove the plastic covers, you literally just squeeze and pull. Under those covers there are a bunch of bolts to remove, (but save the ones you pull out on the tub (body) side of the hinge 'cause you will re-use these for the new carrier). You will also notice that Chrysler painted the jeeps with the hinges installed, so you will likely have to touch up the unpainted area with a close matching paint once those hinges are removed. (The new carrier comes close to covering it all, but some of the unpainted area will still be exposed after install if you don't touch it up now). *tip: leave the tailgate closed for now and keep it latched on the drivers-side. That way it stays in place when the hinges are removed.
Next, grab the new freshly painted tire carrier and loosely install the bolts to hold the hinge on the tub. These are the torx bolts from the stock hinge. Tighten them until the hinge touches the tub, but don't tighten them all the way yet. *tip: use a proper torx bit driver to do this step and not a 3/8 drive ratchet torx bit like I did. The torx sockets are slightly too wide to fit and I ended up chipping off a little paint.
Now with the tailgate still latched shut, swing the carrier towards the gate. Install the four supplied Allen bolts through the new carrier assembly and into the tailgate holes where the original hinge was attached. (Paint these Allen bolts when you are painting the rest of the carrier. They come black, but are not actually painted and will rust after contact with water). Open the tailgate slightly, shim up the tailgate until it sits level and the latching mechanism lines up, and tighten the torx bolts holding the hinge to the tub. Tighten the Allen bolts a little here too, but don't torque them right down yet. Pull out your shims, and close the tailgate. If it lines up then torque everything down.. If not, open, loosen, adjust, and retighten. (This might take a few tries to get perfect).
Once the carrier is installed and tightened up, the attachment for the spare tire is installed. This piece is offset vertically to give you some adjustment for height (tire size), but it also gives you multiple bolting options for backspacing.
Once that is installed, the only thing to do is to throw the spare up there. It holds the spare SOLID... 'Cause the tire actually presses against the tire carrier. This holds the tire in place extremely firm. I've had the JK on some serious washboard, and have done quite a bit of wheeling since install. I've yet to see a shake or shimmy out of the spare.
All said and done, I like this carrier a lot. I'm not just saying that to justify my purchase. The design of this thing is complimentary to the jeep, to the point where people have thought that's its a stock option. It's definitely strong enough to hold anything I'll throw at it and then some. It will be reasonably easy to add to in the future too, as I plan on reinstalling my CB antenna very soon.. But have also been thinking about a mount for a hilift jack to get it out of the interior. As I said earlier I've also come up with a way to modify the third brake light from the stock carrier to make it work on this carrier too, (in British Columbia we have to retain that light when modifying our jeeps). I will add that to this write-up when I complete that project.
-holds the tire extremely tight to the body; great for departure angle but also keeps the tire from moving at all
-no drilling necessary for install
-price tag is less than the Teraflex
-adjustable for tire size and for wheel backspacing
-allows you to run whichever rear bumper you want to buy or build
-looks great on the back of the JK even without the tire on there; the attention to detail especially with the vent louvre is impressive
-it comes with zerk fittings already installed so that you can squeeze a little grease into the actual hinge, (though it comes pre-greased and I have not had to add any yet).
-if I were installing again I would use a different torx bit to tighten the hinge to avoid chipping the fresh paint (which is more a con of my user-error than the carrier itself)
-I would/will install some sort of limiting strap on the inside of the tailgate to prevent the tailgate/carrier from swinging all the way open. The hinge area is sharp and will chip the paint if allowed to open all the way. Again.. Not critical of the carrier itself, just something I thought would compliment it quite well
Now the key question: Would I buy this carrier again if I could go back in time? Without a doubt, yes. I would have bought it earlier. It does everything it claims to do.. Which is to say it holds an oversized spare very very well.
Plus it is pretty easily modified to accommodate other off-road items such as an over-tire basket, hilift jack, or various antennas. It even still allows air flow in through the tailgate vent through a very cleverly designed louvre. I'm happy with my purchase, and Curt was a great person to deal with. Getting to deal with the builder directly instead of a sales rep or a sales person from a distributor is getting to be a bit of a novelty in itself in the 4x4 parts community.. A fact that I feel is a bit of a shame. I always felt that the smaller companies seem to care more about their clients, and are more eager to please them... Which is certainly the case with Curt.
If you want any more information or pictures of anything else specifically, just post up here or send me a PM. I'll be happy to do what I can to answer any questions.