A spare wheel carrier is an absolute necessity for a van. Many vans will already have a spare wheel carrier installed (likely underslung to the bottom of the van) - but some will not. The previous owner of my van snipped off the spare wheel mount so I decided to do a DIY job and install one on the back door (added bonus: it looks badass!).
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
So let's jump in and have a look at how to install a spare wheel carrier (and spare wheel cover) on your van!
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How to install a DIY spare wheel carrier on your van
Note: Be careful which spare wheel carrier you buy - they are not one-size-fits-all. They vary from three, four, or five bolts, with different diameters between the bolts. So do a bit of research on what your spare wheel size is. There is a fantastic website called wheel-size.com which will give you all the information on which spare wheel carrier to buy for your specific van.
Step #1: Mark the pilot holes
Place the spare wheel carrier against the back door and mark the four drill points with a pencil.
Step #2: Drill the pilot holes
Drill the pilot holes into each of the four marks.
Step #3: Apply metal paint to the exposed metal to prevent rust
Ensure you clean all the metal shavings before applying the metal paint.
Step #4: Drill bolt holes in the metal backing flange
Place the spare wheel mount against the metal sheet (backing flange) and mark the four drill points with a sharpie. Then drill those points.
The purpose of the metal backing plate is to evenly distribute the weight of the spare wheel across a larger surface area, rather than simply hanging on the door.
My spare wheel carrier didn't come with a metal backing flange, so I went to my local DIY shop and picked up some sheet metal.
Step #5: Attach the spare wheel carrier to the door of your van
To attach the spare wheel carrier you will use the metal backing flange and some backing foam.
The foam is for shock absorption and for preventing any scratching to the metal of the van. It also adds a waterproof seal to the van. It is stuck to the inside and outside of the van door.
In terms of layers, it is the same as the ladder installation. Spare wheel carrier, foam, van door, foam, backing plate.
So go ahead and put the spare wheel carrier up against the door and pop your bolt right through all those layers.
Step #6: Add some sealant around the bolts
Before you fully tighten the bolts down, add some sealant to be 100% sure it's waterproof!
Step #7: Attach the spare wheel to the carrier
The last step is to bolt the spare wheel to the carrier. Careful - it weighs an absolute ton!
I also bought a spare wheel cover for the spare wheel to protect it from the elements.
Purpose-built spare wheel mounts
The wheel-mount installation described above was very much a ‘cheap, DIY job’. If you are willing to spend a bit more money, you could grab one of the spare wheel mounts from OwlVans. They can also be used for mounting bikes, storage containers, jerry cans, or even a ski locker!
I hope you found this guide to installing a spare wheel for your van conversion useful! You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan!
Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).
If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,