Maximus-3 Build Package Thoughts and Analysis.
When we lifted Project Rubicon X and installed a full set of 35″ Mickey Thompson MTZ P3’s we had to do something about accommodating the new 35″ spare tire. There was no way we were going to trust our stock tire carrier with an extension when the weight of the new spare tire and wheel totaled nearly 100 lbs. The biggest issue we had with the stock tire carrier is the simple fact that it’s so thin and fragile.
This is the stock Jeep JK tire carrier. Weighing in at a whopping 5 lbs (seriously, we weighed it… 5 lbs), it’s case aluminum structure is just fine for a stock spare tire on a Jeep that never sees the trails. But once you add the additional weight of an over-sized, non-stock tire, you could be adding 25 to 30 lbs of weigh to your spare. Factor in the additional weight of an aftermarket wheel and a little offroading and you could one day be looking at structural failure of that stock tire carrier. Unfortunately this happens even under moderate offroading and slightly larger tires. Jeep seems to have anticipated the possibility of something happening to the tire carrier because they added a very thin steel bracket that connects the top two spare tire lug bolts to the upper bolts that hold the tire carrier to the door in what seems to be a structural backup in the event of failure. That’s good but who really wants to worry about it failing in the first place?
The most immediate issue we were dealing with after installing our LT315/70R17 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ P3’s was that the spare tire simply would not fit the stock tire carrier. The fact is, most over-sized tires will not fit on the stock spare tire carrier without an adapter because the stock carrier wasn’t designed for the additional height and width of larger tires. Several manufacturers market spare tire extension brackets, which raise and extend the position of the spare tire mount away from the vehicle allowing a larger spare tire to clear the bumper and the door. The main issue with these extension brackets is they only address the location of the spare tire and do nothing to strengthen the stock carrier. In fact these extension brackets actually add to the stresses placed on the stock spare tire carrier. Larger spare tires on the stock carrier also add to the stresses placed on the door hinges and can lead to premature hinge wear. We also wanted to add some accessories and the stock carrier offers zero options for anything. Not even a CB antenna. So with these points in mind, using the stock carrier with an extension was out of the question. We were in the market for a spare tire carrier.
Choosing our Tire Carrier
In our previous Rubicon X project we had looked to Maximus-3 out of Auburn Hills, Michigan to help us take our Rubicon’s Mopar Front Bumper to the next level with their Maximus-3 Classic Hoop, Winch Mount, D-Ring Loops, Hook Anchor & Light Brackets. With that installation we were thoroughly impressed with the quality and design so it made sense that we would be interested in their rear tire carrier. In our introduction of this project (Project Intro) we mentioned that we had known about Maximus-3 even before buying our Rubicon. But by shear luck we met up with one of the Maximus-3 engineers at the Bantam Heritage Jeep Festival in Butler PA last year and had a fantastic opportunity to check out their Rubicon X decked out with the best of engineering designs. That’s when we really got excited about Maximus-3.
Pictured above is the Maximus-3 JK Modular Tire Carrier Sport Package. We spent some time drooling all over this JK, talking to Joe who is one of the engineers at Maximus-3. He was very happy to show us around the JK and point out some engineering forethought that went into their products. We had seen a plethora of Maximus-3 pictures in the past couple of years but getting your hands on the product really speaks volumes of detail that you just can’t get out of a photo. For instance not until you actually swing the rear door with that Maximus-3 rear tire carrier installed you don’t realize how much weigh is unloaded from the door itself. With the new carrier installed the door is only linked to the tire carrier by a short, heavy duty, adjustable tie rod linkage arm. 100% of the spare tire weigh is unloaded from the door and you can really feel it opening and closing the door. Another immediate observation we saw was the substantial size and strength of the tubular tire carrier frame. We also really appreciated the variety of attachment options for accessories and how the engineers took advantage of as much available space as possible back behind the Jeep. Our first project with Maximus-3 was the Maximus-3 Classic Hoop, Winch Mount, D-Ring Loops, Hook Anchor & Light Brackets. Soon after we put the wraps on that project we were ready for tires and consequently the new tire carrier.
100% Bolt-on Installation was a breeze
Even with adequate documentation, you never quite know how easy or difficult an installation will be unless you’ve done it before. While it’s one thing to properly engineer an upgrade, it’s a whole different process to document the installation procedure. Ideally from the installers perspective, you want clear, step-by-step instructions so the install to go as easy as possible. The instructions from Maximus-3 were again like our Winch Mount install, very clear and accurate with plenty of photos and tips. Our install was accomplished in a couple of hours by one person pausing once in a while while we snapped photos and documented installation notes. During the install our biggest concern would have been the door alignment but Maximus-3 made that easy to deal with by never fully removing the rear door and mounting the hinges one at a time. The tire carrier has a tight and rattle-free operation thanks to an adjustable preloaded/tensioned tie rod and nylon stop block located where the tire carrier meets the door. The kit consists of minimal parts with the tie rod assembly pre-assembled simplifying the assembly and installation.
One huge advantage of this tire carrier is the fact that it is a 100% bolt-on installation. That means there was no cutting or drilling required, everything fit precisely to the factory door and hinges preserving the option to reverse the installation back to factory; although why anyone would want to revert back to the factory tire carrier is beyond me. Perhaps a good reason might be someone who wanted to sell their Jeep but wanted to keep such an awesome carrier for their next Jeep.
Below we are going to get into some of the highlights of Maximus-3 JK Modular Tire Carrier Sport Package.
If you want to know more about how the install went, you can read the details on the full install in this write-up and review here: How to Install the Maximus-3 JK Modular Tire Carrier.
You can also check out the install and review of the Maximus-3 Backup LED Light, which is a great addition to the Maximus-3 Tire Carrier.
Fit and Form
There’s nothing more exciting than stepping back to get a first full look at freshly installed upgrades. Our 2014 Rubicon X has many factory Mopar upgrades that we paid good money for and maintaining that Rubicon X look was an important consideration with all of the upgrades that we have added to Project X. We were very happy with the appearance of the Maximus-3 Winch Mount, Classic Hoop and the D-Ring hangers, which maintained the sophisticated appearance of our Rubicon X. Stepping back to look at our new JK Modular Tire Carrier, Maximus-3 once again hit a home run in presentation.
We were impressed and pleased with how the tire carrier’s frame contour follows the body lines of the tailgate and while most of the tire carrier frame would be covered by the spare tire it makes us want to drive around without the spare tire mounted! Even the tire carrier’s hinges, mounted over top of the tailgate’s hinges, do more to enhance and compliment rather than distort the appearance. The accessory mounting panel on the passenger side of the tire carrier swing-out arm allows for installing a variety accessories available from Maximus-3 including a Hi-Lift Jack, Shovel, Rotopax containers, NATO/USGI Jerry Cans, Work Lights, Backup Camera, LED Backup Light and more all with a multiple options for mounting locations. Even if you never actually have a need for any accessories the mounting panel looks great just by itself and appears to add additional structural stability to the tire carrier. The powder coat finish is a great match to the Mopar rear bumper and has shown to be quite durable since we installed the carrier.
The Maximus-3 JK Modular Tire Carrier Sport Package, Model: 0400-0300TC-SP, includes the center accessories mast, to which we added the CHM (Center High Mount) 3rd Brake Light and a Maximus-3 Backup LED. The backup LED turned out to be a very useful accessory for every day travels. Wired into the stock reverse light circuit, these LED lights provide a flood of light every time we throw Rubicon X into reverse. The usefulness of the extra light becomes very apparent every time you turn your head around while backing up in a dark parking lot or out of a dark driveway. Extremely useful and a great safety feature! We cover the installation of the LED Backup Light here.
We also installed the Maximus-3 Side LED Bracket to accommodate a second LED utility light and a CB Antenna for our Cobra 148 GTL CB. This bracket was another well thought out product from Maximus-3. Not only did the bracket fit the tire carrier precisely but it does it with style. Multiple mounting holes in the top of the bracket allow for both our CB antenna and a utility light while slotted holes down the sides provide locations to secure the CB antenna wire and the LED light wire. Later we plan to buy the Maximus-3 Hi-Lift Jack Mount and add our Hilift to the JK.
Functionality and Design
Strength is probably the most important factor with an aftermarket tire carrier. It has to be strong enough to carry larger, heavier mud tires and wheels and do it without rattling itself apart. The Maximus-3 tire carrier achieves strength, stability and durability in several ways. First the swing-out tire carrier is fabricated as a single-piece from high strength heavy gauge 2″ OD tubular steel. This was most noticeable during the installation while handling the weight of the tire carrier.
There is no doubt this swing-out can handle even the largest of after market tires. When you look at the stock Jeep JK tire carrier, the weight of the spare tire rests fully on the tailgate door. The Maximus-3 tire carrier design transfers that weight completely off of the door and over to it’s own load bearing hinges separate from the factory door hinges. With the load transferred over to the Maximus-3 tire carrier, it is then synchronized with the tailgate using an integrated pre-tensioned tie rod. When the tailgate is closed, the adjustable pre-tensioned tie rod pulls the tire carrier securely into a nylon stop block for a rattle and vibration free operation. The tire carrier hinges also use wide hinge bearing points for better stability and load distribution while providing an effortless door opening thanks to low friction self-lubricating bronze bearings. When the tailgate is fully opened, the tire carrier and door come to a stop through an integrated clearance between the stock hinge and the Maximus-3 tire carrier and prevent the open door from over extending and making contact with the passenger side taillight. All very well thought out mechanical design features that bring together an extremely solid after market design.
Adjustable Height for Different Sized Tires
A essential feature in any tire carrier is the ability to adapt to any tire size in both tire height and width.
Maximus-3 easily achieves this by giving the installer an adjustable mounting location for the spare tire/wheel in both height and depth.
The depth is adjustable with 3 mounting holes to accommodate a variety of tires and wheel backspacing allowing the tire rubber to be mounted in direct contact with the tire carrier for secure, rattle-free stability in even the roughest offroad terrain. For height the tire carrier has 2 mounting locations, an upper and lower, to adjust the mounting height of the spare tire. These multiple mounting locations allow for a wide variety of tire/wheel combinations from stock up to a wide 40″ mud tire while maintaining as low a center of gravity as possible.
The adjustable Spare Tire/Wheel Mount is built for extreme duty; fabricated and professionally welded using 1/4″ thick steel and square tubing finished with the same powder-coated black as the rest of the tire carrier.
The spare tire/wheel mount also accommodates a rear backup camera mounting bracket (Maximus-3 part number: 0400-0300TC-BCAM) that lets the backup camera peek out from behind the spare tire in covert style. While we don’t yet have a backup camera system installed with our Uconnect 430N, we do know that the camera cable can be discreetly routed through the tire/wheel mount keeping the installation clean and the wire protected. We have some ideas with cameras including simultaneously displayed multi on-screen cameras on the 430N but that’s for a future article.
Below are a few photo examples of the Maximus-3 rear tire carrier with accessory add-ons. Maximus-3 offers a couple of mounting options for a shovel, a Hi-Lift Jack, Rotopax with a side mount, a side NATO/USGI Jerry Can holder, a high mount option for double Pax, a centered high mount work light bracket, a backup camera bracket, side mount LED backup or utility light bracket, side LED backup light, and a centered accessories Mast as we detailed above.
If you are looking for a strong, adjustable, easily installed 100% bolt-on tire carrier that can be customized to suit your needs, your tire size, your Jeep JK, you’re going to want to check out this tire carrier. We were thoroughly impressed from start to finish with this project and would do it all again with our next JK. We appreciated the clear and simple directions provided by the company that included plenty of photos and attention to the smaller details. It made for a quick, very smooth, trouble-free installation and perfect fitment to boot.
We totally forget that this tire carrier is back there thanks to the adjustable preloaded/tensioned tie rod and nylon stop block design that gives the entire assembly rattle-free operation even over the roughest, rockiest Pennsylvania Coal Country trails that we have hit in the past few months. Knowing how important that can be for long term structural soundness, mental sanity and carefree confidence we give this design top marks for it’s adjustable tension and strong, robust design. The strength of this tire carrier gave us little doubt it could handle the 100 lb 35″ Mickey Thompson MTZ P3 mud tire with ease.
We also give the Maximus-3 JK Modular Tire Carrier top marks for versatility. Offroad gear needs can change not only from owner to owner but can change from one offroad trip to the next. Versatility in how you securely mount your gear can be a game changer. We love the available options that can be mounted on this tire carrier and the fact that we are not committed to one accessory layout.
Appearance was another area we couldn’t have been happier with. The durable black matte powder coated finish was damn near a perfect match to the factory Rubicon X (and the 10A and Hard Rock) Mopar bumpers. Styling held true to the body lines and sophisticated presentation of our Anvil Rubicon X Unlimited.
Like the Maximus-3 enhancements to the Mopar front bumper, pricing was reasonable and right in line with other tire carriers in it’s class with the accessory mounts all reasonably priced as well. This made two major projects added to our Rubicon X that came from Maximus-3 that we were very happy with. As with previous projects we were determined to maintain the sophisticated style and appearance of our Rubicon X and once again, we were not disappointed with this quality tire carrier, another highly recommended product from Maximus-3.
Maximus-3 Contact Info
2295 N. Opdyke Rd, Suite E
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Installation and Review of the Maximus-3 Winch Mount, Bumper Hoop, Hook Anchors & D-Ring Loops
- Maximus-3 Upgrades to Project Rubicon X
- Rubicon Bumper Removal
- Maximus-3 Winch Mount Installation
- Winch Install onto Maximus-3 Winch Mount
- Maximus-3 D-Ring Loops Installation
- Maximus-3 Hook Anchor & Hauser Fairlead Install
- Reinstall Bumper & Maximus-3 Classic Hoop Bar Install
- Thoughts, Analysis & Review of the Maximus-3 Classic Hoop, Winch Mount, D-Ring Loops, Hook Anchor & Light Brackets
For more information on Maximus-3 Products:
Love this carrier. It’s on my want list.
I noticed the red Rubicon shocks, but you are obviously running a lift to fit those 35″ MTZ’s. Looks great. What lift are you running?? Great review though.
Thanks Jeff. Yes, we kept the Rubicon shocks and used the shock extensions provided with the TeraFlex 2.5″ suspension lift. After installing the 2.5″ we realized that the lift didn’t give the Jeep the stance we wanted though it made clearance the 35’s to fit fine without rubbing anywhere. So it wasn’t long after that we added a TeraFlex Leveling Kit to the suspension. This leveling kit added 2″ to the front and 1″ to the rear effectively leveling the Jeep better than it was with the lift alone and it added another 2″ of lift in the front giving us the stance we wanted. We flexed the Jeep out and were really happy with the clearances and the shocks were fine. So we saved a few bucks for now keeping those stock Rubicon shocks, which really are quality shocks.
Along with the 2.5″ lift and the Leveling Kit we also added the AEV Geometric Correction Brackets to the front control arms. This gave the Jeep a really nice ride smoothing out the bumps. Thanks for the comments.