Spare Tire Carrier questions (except exterior mount kits)


moblhom

New member
I recently upsized the tires on my 89 westy to 205/70 Michelin MXT's.The tires are awsome but my dealer says he can't order the larger tension rods anymore.He also showed a different pan for the 205's.Can I eliminate the top parts of the rods and just bolt the tire to the pan?

[ 07-12-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
First you don't need the larger tension rods, you actually use the smaller because the tire is bigger. But you are right in that the parts fiche calls for a different spare tire pan as well.

I was reverting from OE 205/70R14r to the 195/75R14C, so just purchased the smaller tire (larger rod) set. Then they didn't arrive in time for a trip, so I just sleeved my originals which have worked fine ever since.

Since these smaller tire tension rods are still hanging on the shop wall, I checked them out. They are made of 8mm round stock, which is 5/16". Only one end has any fittings, a small groove and retainer clip hole. I suppose it wouldn't be too much trouble to fabricate new ones. I see the round stock bending jigs in the Northern Tools catalogs and the like. An excuse to add one to the shop?

I'm not sure you have to have the 2nd pan. The tire ride's face down, so the difference may be in the amount or shape of indent rather than the actual size of the pan. The mag wheels of the 205/70R14r equipped Vanagons don't have the same degree of face recess.

I'd hesitate to permanently bolt the tire to the pan. Couple of reasons. The pan is a fairly light gauge sheet metal and only mounts at 3 points, thus would be more subject to wracking (twisting) Stresses. currently, the tire motion is buffered by the tension rods. If bolted, all force and momentum would be on the 3 mounting points. That may not sound like good physics to you, but having seen many a shake & concussion test in naval architecture, those stress are two-way. The upper rods reduce upward stressso there isn't as much down stress on the rebound.

Before you abandon VW, ask you dealer to do a dealer stock search to see if any exist in another dealer's old stock; also ask him to do an all-distribution center search and special order to Germany status.

Unfortunately, too many dealers are quick to check their own stock & perhaps their own distribution warehouse, but won't voluntarily go the extra mile. Low demand items are often consolidated to a single distribution center or relegated to special order from Germany.

If that fails, do a little measuring and see if the original pan will still work; also check the salvage yards -- there's many an old bus lying in them now and there is no difference between regular bus and Westy spare tire mounts. Although the Westy tension rods are pretty fancy with compound curves, a working version could probably be fabricated without all the finess. Perhaps running those 5/16" rods from corner to corner with just a drop-down in the middle at the tire contact points. Or even a spacer (I used fuel line) on a straighter rod?

Luck, and let us know if VW has discontinued the parts for sure. And perhaps a tire report in the OE Wheels & Tires section later? I'd like to revert to the OE 205/70R14r size, but the MXT's seemed to lack the aggressive tread design I needed for our many excursions on roads (?) lesser travelled. If they be called roads at all.

If you didn't get them from your dealer, my fiche says the tension rods for the 205 tire are P/N 255-801-913 (left) and 255-801-914 (right). The 205 pan is P/N 255-801-901.

[This message has been edited by Capt. Mike (edited 04-07-2001).]
 

moblhom

New member
Capt.Mike,
Thanks for the reply to my spare problem.I haven't given up on the dealers yet.We have two in town and i've only been to the smaller one.I did come up with at least a temporary solution.After putting the tire in and watching what was going on,I could see that the rods had room to flex up, but the front hook kept them from lifting enough.I took out the rods and reinstalled them with the front hook loose.When I put the tire back in, the rods snugged up on the tire good and they fit right into two notches on a cross bracket under the radiator fan shroud.Maybe that's what they're there for? I will monitor the set up for any wear or stress, but it looks like it ought to work.
The new tires are great onthe road,the wind doesn't push us around any more.I'll let you know how the off road and winter season go.
 

icarus

Moderator
Can someone tell me how/why/whatfor/ are the tension rods in the spare tire carrier all about.
I just raise and lower my tire and can't seem to understand how it is supposed to work with the rods. My owners manual nor bentley give me any idea how they work,

Thanks
Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The tensioners are installed for a specific spare tire size. Vanagons come with different tire options -- in the US 185R14r and 205/70R14r are the two OE sizes.

Vw uses different trays and tensioners based on which spare tire is installed. The 205/70R14r is wider, thus the tensioner is smaller (closer to the frame -- less 'bow'). The 185R14r is narrower, so needs tensioners with a large 'bow'.

My Syncro came with the 205/70R14r, thus when I went to the 195/75R14D, it was just narrower by enough to have it rattle. Although I ordered the 185R14r bows, they didn't arrive in time for a trip so I sleeved the 205/70R14r bows at their contact point with some fuel line. Works so good the 185R14r bows still hang on the shop wall!

VW's parts fiche shows a different tray for the two sizes but I'm not sure how that comes into play. Mine seems to work fine with both sizes. Perhaps the tray for 185R14r is shallower and won't allow the 205/70R14r; haven't run into it personally.

Please note this shouldn't be taken lightly; there is very limited clearance on coolant piping and other items. A moving and chafing spare could cause a safety hazard.
 

icarus

Moderator
Thanks Mike,

I'm still not quite clear,, do the tensioners just keep the tire from rattling? Does it matter if you put the tire in one side or the other up? I also use the void in the spare wheel to store my chains. (Not that I have ever needed them with the syncro, but the state patrol requires them on board in the mountains)

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The tensioners prevent the tire from rattling AND from coming in contact with other items routed through the area. You will notice, for instance, that the coolant lines are wire-tied away from the tire in several places. If the tire could move, it might infringe upon the lines.

The tire should face down, i.e. the outside face should be closest to the road. This does make the inside rim-well an excellent place to store some emergency gear. I'd use some discretion as to weight, though, and be sure it couldn't move around in the rim-well. Mine gets a tow strap & booster cables.

I think the tensioners also give some stability and even pressure to the tray itself. It's only held at the front by a small flange & bolt; excessive strains could distort the tray or worse, cause the flange to fracture. I try to envision the tray coming down at the front at some speed and don't like the picture. Thus my more conservative approach.

The tray hinges on the tension rods and both are held on by those two little clips; another reason not to put excessive strain on them by a rattling-around tire.

You haven't mentioned your problem: Too loose or too tight? There's enough Vanagons in the salvage yards now you should be able to find a replacement. As I mentioned, the tensioners for the 205/70R14r OE tires can be sleeved for the more common 185R14r and 195/75R14D tires most of us have had to convert to.
 

icarus

Moderator
Mike,

Once again thanks,

Contrary to much of life, I have no problem with my spare carrier. As I was working on my a/c with the tire out, I read the posts and realized that I have no idea what the tensioners did. I have the 205 tyres. The only thing I carry up there is a cheap set of cable chains for the state patrol's benefit.

Icarus
 

fillus

New member
I have a 91 Westfalia camper with the spare tire carrier under the front. A few days ago the bolt came out while I was driving(slowly, thank goodness!) dropping the tire and carrier to the road. I discovered that the bolt appears to be stripped and the release catch is broken off. I have ordered replacements from dealer and hope they can be put back in working order. While looking at the posts regarding spare tire carriers, I see references to "tension rods" to hold the tire in place. There are no tension rods in the carrier on my vehicle and I don't ever recall seeing them. (I have changed the tire myself a few times so would have noticed this) Are there supposed to be rods in the carrier of my 91 vehicle also? How important are they and should I get a set to install? (My owner's manual and my Bentley's book do not address or show tension rods).
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Yes, there ARE supposed to be rods. These rods, however, are secured to the frame up at the top of the carrier area so are not visible during the normal flat fix. Go back to your dealer and ask to look at the parts fiche. The one's used depend on tire size. If your vehicle came with 205/70R14r, you can alway sleeve them with some fuel line hose at contact points to accomodate the 195/75R14D and 185R14C 8PR sizes now available.

Was your bolt stripped, or the nut? Probably a tendency to overtighten or for shop's to use the impact wrench. It doesn't have a lock washer, which you could add if you choose. Use a fender washer first, then a split lock washer. (See topic on lock washers in the TOOLS forum.)
 

fillus

New member
Thanks for response regarding the bolt holding the tire carrier. You asked if the bolt or the nut was stripped. Don't see a nut. Where would I find that? Also thanks for tip on using fuel line hose; I will pass this on to my mechanic. I am 72 years old and can do some simple mechanical tasks, but this one I probably couldn't do. I did get under the VW and rigged up some bungie cords under the empty pan and secured them to some solid parts to hold it in case the bolt popped out again so I could use the van until the bolt arrives.
 

icarus

Moderator
It should be a captive nut (welded to the frame where the bolt threads in. You should be able to feel around the top side where the bolt goes in to feel if it is indeed there.

Your experiance tells me that some sort of safety chain with safety pins might be a good idea.

Good luck,, (I'm impressed that at 72 your still game to crawl around under you Westy, these hope for us that are getting old(er)!)

Icarus
 

fillus

New member
Thanks for your response, Icarus, regarding the ongoing tire carrier problem. The nut is definitely not there, and I suspect it is an important part that helps hold the bolt in place. Is the bolt a common size so that I can get a new captive nut and have it welded in place? The safety chain is a good idea and will pursue that when I can find out who will do that sort of job. The van is my only transportation so you can see why I am so concerned about nuts and bolts. Also I live in a small town and have to drive over 70 miles to nearest dealer and/or other mechanics.
 

icarus

Moderator
The nut is the mate to the bolt, if you will. The fact is that if you have neither bolt nor nut you can use any generic nut and bolt combination that appoxamates the size. I don't know exactly what size it should be, some thing on the order of 10-12mm, or 7/16" sounds about right.(I'm sure someone will know off thier head) Any mechanic should be able to conger up something to work in a pinch. I would only advise that the bolt either have a wide washer type head, or you include a oversize washer as Capt. Mike suggests. I will try to look at mine tommorow to confirm what I think.

Once again, good luck,

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Yes, the bolt is generic -- VW P/N N900 920 01 which equates to a DIN standard 12mm dia. x 1.5 (pitch) x 35mm length.

From the parts fiche -- and sometimes VW's fiche photo isn't accurate -- it appears it may be a threaded insert built into the carrier reinforcement instead of a nut. If that's the case and it is stripped, there are several repair alternatives. Yes, welding a standard matching nut on the back is one. Another is having the original drilled out and a threaded insert (Nut-sert®) installed -- that's like a threaded female version of a pop-rivet. It will take someone with the appropriate special tool, though I've seen some brands that claim they can be done with wrenches. If push come sto shove, you could probably just epoxy one in with JB Weld®, remembering it doesn't have to be tightened like a lug-nut. When you get your new bolt, check it first. Those threaded body components are usually pretty sturdy.
 

fillus

New member
I finally got the new bolt for the spare tire carrier and it fits snugly, unlike the old which I unscrewed with my fingers it was so stripped. Now I am trying to find tension rods before I put the tire back in the carrier. The dealer says they are no longer available for my vehicle. (91 Vanagon)My searches via Web and otherwise from shops and salvage yards have turned up nothing. I don't know which size tire(and neither does the dealer) it came with. The tire size/pressure recommendation sticker on inside of front door shows both the 185 and the 205/70R sizes. I have 185R14C 8PR size tires on the vehicle now. Is there some other solution for the tension rods? I don't want to carry the spare inside the vehicle.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The part numbers for the tension rods for the 185R14 tire are 251-801-913A left and 251-801-914A right. Sometimes it's easier to do obsolete parts searches with the part numbers in hand. The numbers for the 205/70R14 tire are 251-801-913 & -914 respectively. Don't worry about which you get or even if they match -- you can always sleeve the 205 size set down.

Go back to your dealer and ask him to do a national parts search of dealer stocks or back-order to Germany. That it's no longer stocked in the US doesn't mean it's no longer available in Germany or other markets.

The clips are 251-801-921 (2 required) but don't sweat them -- they are generic and can be substituted, even if drilling the bracket and using a cotter key.

There is a tendency to fear custom fabrication. The brackets are simple, 8mm (~5/16") rod stock. What makes them look exotic is they are formed with several bends and curves, mostly to follow the tire shape.

One of the great things about the Westy family is their willingness to help one another. Catch any Vanagon owner and tell him your plight -- ask if you can trace or borrow his set long enough to have them duplicated. Invite him along for lunch & a beer. Most muffler & welding shops have bending jigs. Useable version could even be made at home in a vise. You don't have to be exact or duplicate the flowing curves of the OE -- each just needs to contact the tire at two points -- it only provides tension to keep it from rattling.

All else failing, use one of the 4- or 6-leg 'spider' bungee sets to hold it to the tray temporarily. You can adjust one of those spider's to the correct length as simply as tying a knot in the cords.
 

fillus

New member
The dealer parts person told me that there were no tension rods he could find in the U.S. so I did some more searching of salvage yards via phone and Web. I was referred to BWAuto Dismantlers in California. I called , made my request, and was told they had the rods. Because I wanted to be sure they were the right part, they immediately e-mailed me a diagram of the rods and all the other spare tire carrier parts they had on hand, including the clips you mention. I may also buy the spare tire carrier itself as mine is a little banged up from its trip on the ground when it dropped. My mechanic and I were also thinking bungee cords, but I found in an earlier post that you thought just bolting the tire or strapping it to the carrier was not the best solution. Thanks for your help.
 
R

RCB

Guest
Greetings, You have found a great source for parts in B%WAuto. Jeff is a very honest and knows Westys better than the guy or gal who initially invented them...............RCB
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Good idea to get the carrier plate, too. Actually, VW has TWO part numbers for the plate depending on tire size. I've never known the difference. I have a set of both size rods and even they are hard to tell apart. The difference from when I went to 205/70R14r to 195/75R14D was the wall thickness of the fuel hose I used to sleeve the first set. That same sleeve now works for the 185R14C8PR set I have now. My set for the 185R14's was never installed. So I'm not sure what the carrier plate differences were. If you spot one, let us know.

If you've found a good salvage yard, post your experiences in the PARTS forum -- there's a topic there specifically for salvage yards.
 

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