Full-size Spare Tire Fixture for a Dodge/Chrysler “Stow and Go” Minivan
If you’re like me and like to carry full-size spare in your minivan (we have a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan), you may have discovered that if you have “Stow and Go” the handy location for either a temporary or a full-size spare underneath the rear of the minivan is no longer available. Instead, an absurdly complicated and inaccessible temporary spare (it won’t accommodate a full-size spare) is hung underneath the body just under the front seats, and must first be lowered by many turns of a bolt head between the seats, and then you use a special tool to scoop the container with the spare from under the vehicle.
Since I collect flats for some reason (about once a year), I bought a steel wheel and a new tire to use as a spare. But where to put it, and how to secure it? If you just stow one of the back seats and place the spare on top of it, the loose tire and wheel poses a real hazard in the event of a collision or even a violent maneuver. If you stand the spare up in the well back of the rear seats, then it moves back and forth and fore and aft, and presents a hazard as well. There are no provisions for tie-down back there, and if you install eye bolts or cleats, then you compromise the “Stow and Go” feature.
I finally came up with the design described below. A caveat: I have no idea how well this fixture would perform in a frontal or side crash. I designed it beefy enough that I believe it is far better than just letting the spare run loose inside the minivan, but that is the only claim I can make for it.
A not-to-scale drawing of the fixture is shown above. Check the dimensions on your minivan to ensure a tight fit into the bottom of the well. I built mine of good quality ¾ inch plywood, glued and screwed together.
Use no less than six screws to join the backboard to the base. Use no less than 3 screws to secure the bracing fillet to the backboard, and 3 more to secure the fillet to the base. I used carpenter’s glue in addition to the screws to give added strength.
The small rectangular hole in the base serves to steady the tire in place, and also provides a convenient hand hole to carry the fixture when you take it out of the minivan. The angle of the backboard to the base is roughly 74 degrees, but check the angle your seat backs make to be sure than the backboard is not rubbing away your upholstery when it is in place in your well.
Before you drill the ½ inch hole for your tire-retaining bolt, put the completed fixture in the well, and try out the fit of the tire. Hold the spare up against the backboard and pick one of the lug bolt holes. Then mark the hole location. There should be some slop in that hole to make it easy to wiggle the bolt into place through the lug bolt hole on the wheel.
BE SURE that you place a large washer on the bolt before pushing through the backboard hole, and use another large washer and wing nut to secure the tire.
Figure 2 shows the fixture in place in my back well, and Figure 3 shows the spare tire in place.
I painted my fixture flat black to make it as unobtrusive as possible, probably a better choice would have been to paint the thing gray to match the interior. Your choice!