spare tire question
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marsha c

New York, NY

#1 Apr 20, 2007
hello guys, I have a flat on my '92 caravan and was trying to get the spare off from under the back and can't figure it out lol. Can some one explain to me how to get it off, keep in mind you are explaining this to a weak-minded car knowledge soccer mom

Auburn, NY

#2 May 21, 2007
Open your Back Tail gate, Look on the floor on the right side and there should be a little peice of carpet that looks like its ripped, fold it up and you will see what looks almost like a lug nut, Lossen it , and you will notice your tire slowly dropping down to the ground. when it hit the ground pull the bracket out from side the rim, and just reverse the steps to put it back...hope this helps
paul t werner

Westbury, NY

#3 May 21, 2007
Do what my wife does. Look cute and helpless.Let someone else do it.

Philadelphia, PA

#4 Aug 26, 2007
The spare tire cable releases but the tire does not lower. Help!

Winnipeg, Canada

#5 Sep 4, 2007
Keep your spare tire inside the van, it might get in the way sometimes, but try changing the tire in 20 below zero it sucks.

Newport News, VA

#6 Sep 4, 2007
I had the same problem. There is a safety catch on the plastic wench bracket for the dog bone.
Here is how to fix it:
The tire will lower about 2 inches then stop. Lower the cable another couple of inches. Lie on your back under the tire and lift weight off the cable. With your third hand (get a helper - I used one hand to lift the tire) reach up and over the tire to the wench down tube. You will feel a wire connected to a square piece of metal. Pull on that metal piece, it should pop back for you releasing the tire.(You may have to pull up-and-out if it has a little rust on it.)
While you have the tire down, clean up the mechanism and apply some grease.

PS Make sure the spare has 60lbs of air before using it.
Frank Bartlett

Dartmouth, Canada

#7 Mar 25, 2008
I have owned a 2000 Dodge Caravan and now a 2003. Both had the spare tire problem. The cable will come down but the tire will not. There is a safety mechanism that will not release because of rust. Where I live the rust would be created after about two weeks from the new car lot. Bad design Dodge! Shame on you engineers for being so stupid!! Something so simple as a spare tire change is made complicated with the flawed design. I wonder how many people have been stranded on the road cursing the jerk who thought of that design. I eliminated the mechanism by cutting it out. There is so much friction when the tire is in the up position that it will never come down by itself. I have had no issue after that. You should send out a memo to all dodge dealers to ask their clients who own these vans to check the spare tire release. I checked my 2003 before I needed the spare. good thing I did. It would have never come down. without a flashlight one would never even be able to see what is holding it up. Once again I must stress the point that this design sucks!!!!!!!
David DiPersio


#8 May 24, 2008
I ran into the same problem with not being able to lower the spare for my 1999 Dodge Caravan. It appears from the responses of others that the Dodge engineers have not had any incentive to fix the problem.
One night last summer I got a blowout on I-65 north of Nashville. It sounds like a bad Kenny Roger’s song, but I found myself 8 miles of out of Nashville and I got no spare – it was a hard time to leave me without a loose wheel.
An emergency response team came over and we tried to get the spare free for about 5 minutes without any luck. He called a tow truck, and soon the tow truck guy found that he couldn’t get the tire down either. With cars going by at 70 miles an hour, he said he would have to tow me to a parking lot where I could abandon the car, remove the spare and carry it to a tire shop where I could replace the blow-out. I then had to go back with the new tire and put it on knowing that I would have to wait until the heat of summer was over to find a third hand to get me to release the tire.
We actually had to remove the 5 bolts holding the tire assembly up to get to the box that releases the ball and socket joint that gets stuck. After you figure out how the problem happened it is easy to see the problem. There is a small (one inch square) metal latch that has a flat spring holding it in place. A lever mechanism is supposed to release this from a catch holding it in place. You have to pull the box up or down (depending on whether you are on you back or not) and then out to get this to work. If the catch isn’t lubricated or it is it bent or dirty, it won’t release easily. If the lever mechanism (a wire strut connected by friction to a rotating shaft) get lubricated it will slip and not release. Be sure to only lubricate the right part of the latch. You need precision bombing or there will be a lot of collateral damage.
I would suggest something heavier oil or grease than WD 40 so that the lubrication won’t drip out after the first week of use and cause the release latch to lock up again.
I will bring this problem to the local Dodge people to see if there is a recall on the latch. I would be willing to bet that a good number of Caravan owners will realize that if a bold and nut is put between the flat spring and the post holding the tire up, then this would prevent the latch from locking in place. This would prevent the tire-release problem, but would cause a separate safety hazard since the tire would fall out if the wire cable breaks. Old guys who wear both suspenders and a belt to hold their pants up might not be willing to take this much risk. But the risk of not being able to fix a spare if you are a driver is probably greater than the risk of losing a wheel to the car behind you –but that all depends on your perspective of risk.
I wonder if this defect has been reported to the NTSB?

Fredericton, Canada

#10 Jul 1, 2008
I had the identical experience and spent 6 hours today rectifying it. I recently upgraded my 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan to an identical 2000 model with less km's on it.

The 1996 model had a full size brand new spare tire, and the 2000 a donut, so I decided to do a switch before selling the 1996. On the 1996 the spare tire removal mechanism worked perfectly (I have used it a few times during the past 12 years, which probably helped - like an emergency brake - use it or lose it), but the 2000 was definitely sticking, although the steel wire itself went up & down without issue.

Access is of course extremely tight under the vehicle, and in my case I finally used a screwdriver to pop out the two dog teeth that were preventing the T-Bone from dropping in the shaft.

It really helped having both vehicles side by side, as on the 1996 I could see the affected parts. In my struggles the short wire connecting the bracket with the dog teeth to the lever mechanism actually popped off so I had to re-attach after.

I cleaned and lubricated the mechanism with Krown rustproofing spray, and it works perfectly now (up & down 3 times)on the 2000 model.

Very satisfying to fix the issue myself - as tire shop & dealer suggested cutting wire off to release tire. Got very dirty and very tired after working so many hours under the vehicle - really Chrysler should have made a recall to fix this issue, the safety mechanism design is garbage, and if I had been on a trip with my family and had a flat, there is no way I would have been able to release the mechanism stranded on the highway.

Fredericton, Canada

#11 Jul 1, 2008
BTW - Thanks for all the useful comments here that helped me rectify this annoying issue.

On another forum, I found the following well written, detailed description which others may find useful:-

"How do you remove the spare tire from a 2003 dodge caravan when it is stuck for some reason in the hole that the plastic tire holder goes up into The cable comes down but the tire stays stuck up in?"
In: American Cars

"The design of the spare tire winch has been the same from 1996 up to now, perhaps excepting Stow&Go minivans. It works as follows. The nylon "stem" of the wheel holder has a collar that gets caught by a spring latch inside the square tube protruding downward. This is the tube which the cable comes out from. The latch itself is a stamped piece of metal with two "claws" that extend into the tube through the slots on its rear-facing side. That piece is attached to the tube by means of a flat spring, whose one end is riveted to the latch and the other one to the tube, some 3" upward. To operate the latch, there is a rod which pulls it away from the tube (the claws have tabs on their ends so they cannot come out completely). The other end of the rod is hooked to a looped flat spring. The spring is shaped like a hose clamp with two long straight "ears", and the round portion is pressed onto the bottom end of the winch's main shaft. So, as you begin to unwind the cable, the clamp/spring should turn together with the shaft and pull on the rod, thus releasing the latch. And this must happen before the weight of the wheel transfers to the latch throgh the plastic holder (which would occur if the latch fails to move on the first few turns of the shaft). Apparently, when the latch claws get stuck in their slots due to dirt or rust, the shaft just slips inside the spring. It could be a fail-safe feature to prevent the parts from breaking, but it also easily prevents the latch from releasing. Recently (as of this writing), I inspected the winch on my minivan and the wheel was found to be stuck. The previous inspection was two years ago. Back then, the latch did work and I sprayed it with silicone grease. A stuck latch should be easy to release if you lie down on your back and support the weight of the wheel by pushing it up. If you can hold the wheel close to the floor pan, there's enough room to reach the latch with a finger, through the center hole of the wheel. If it's too difficult to hold the wheel up, you can insert a long screwdriver through one of the holes in the wheel and unhook the latch with it. It still helps to at least partially support the wheel so its full weight is not resting on the latch. This time around, I cleaned the mechanism with WD-40 and then brush-painted the claws and their slots with anti-seize, and also applied it between the flat spring and the square tube, to make sure nothing holds it there. Do not lubricate the spring itself, and the machined neck on the shaft where it is clamped on. Now I believe that the winch has to be inspected and serviced at least annually. Don't forget to pump up the spare tire at the same time. Hope this helps."

Winnipeg, Canada

#12 Jul 24, 2008
Hi, I have a Stow & Go caravan and I decided to check my spare tire. I had no problem winding it down but now I cannot get it back up! The cable goes all the way up except for about 10 inches of it then it gets really tight and if you try and turn more you get a loud click noise.
the manual says to turn it till you hear 3 click sounds but mine will not go up the last 10inches...Please help...Thanks

Grand Prairie, TX

#13 Jul 25, 2008
...."You have to pull the box up or down (depending on whether you are on you back or not) and then out to get this to work. "
The above is SPOT ON! I used the jack and jacked up the spare tire, after loosening the wire a few inches. This got rid of the weight on the latch. I didnt need a helper and had both hands free at that point. A smallish screwdriver poked through the center of the tire at that stupid small "box" did the trick. Pretty sure I had to poke it up while on my back. it was a real simple thing though, at least in my situation. Thanks thanks thanks for the above. This is not internet BS. Good job....


#14 Jul 26, 2008
I have a 2000 Dodge Carivan, I was coming home from work Friday night, when all of a sudden I had a blow out. I pill over to change the tire. I took out my jack, I unscrew the little latch that was holding the spare tire and guess what the tire came down a little and stopped .I thought what is going on? Then Someone stopped to help me , this person could not remove the spare tire. He offered me and my wife a ride home, but ws told him that we wanted to keep trying. We try and try, still no luck. Then someone else stopped to help us. He worked on trying to get the spare tire loose for a hour, still nothing. After 3 hours of being on side of the road with no way of getting the spare tire down. I decided ok I will get home so I drove my van home on the flat, made it home ok, I had no chose ,You see me and my wife had worked from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm that day and we were supposed to go bsck to work the net mornig, but instead of going back to work, guess what I will be doing. Yes you guess it, I will be at a place that sells tire buying a new one and possible a rim also. There has to be a better way for Dodge to place a spare tirw whwre people can get to it

Cameron, WI

#15 Aug 11, 2008
To those of you who have since had the problem of being unable to lower the spare tire on Dodge/Plymouth Caravans, (as I did): I called the local Chrysler/Dodge dealer, and he said to simply kick the spare tire a few times--hard--and it'll break loose (with no damage). I did, it did.

Charlotte Hall, MD

#16 Oct 20, 2008
Once, I lower the spare tire to its max (2 inches) I jacked the tire, and tried (for an hour) to take the square metal piece out. Nothing, I thought in blowing the whole thing off. Unfortunately, THERE IS NOT ENOUGH SPACE!!!! Bad design. I have a 2001 Caravan, it was the first time I was doing this, After 7 years of snow, water, salt and dust he metal is almost welded. Yes, new tire and I completely sure the spare tire would never come down.

United States

#17 Nov 16, 2008
My spare tire will not come down, regardless of time spent yanking on it. After quite a bit I popped off the rusted wire release, but it did nothing. I f***ing hate whoever is responsible for this shitty idea.

Lansing, MI

#18 Nov 20, 2008
I just experienced the same problem last night. Is anybody planning a suit against Dodge for this? Thank God I was in a safe place, I had to wait an hour for the tow truck guy and he couldn't get the tire down. All the tire places were closed so I still have the same flat - this sucks!!! On the flip side I'm glad that I'm not alone in this.
Black eye and stitches

Vaughan, Canada

#19 Nov 25, 2008
Well, I get to add my 2 cents. We took my son's hockey team to Lake Placid over the weekend, plus Thursday/Friday. Coming home, one of the vehicles had a flat. It was driven by the wife of one of the coaches. Long story short... several cars in our convoy stopped to help, including the 15 passenger van with all the kids. We are now 4.5 hours from home and it is dark out. Same deal, wire down, no tire. I took the lead as I am prone to do..(mistake from a farm boy) I winched the cable only, up and down twice, read the instructions on the sticker inside the jack cover three times, kicked the living crap out of the tire now hanging 2 inches from the top. Pried it with two hockey sticks got under the van on three occasions and lifted the tire trying to figure out why it would not come down. I'm a mechanical guy, and it just didn't make sense so, I knew there was some kind of latch or something was caught. With the half dead flashlight, I just couldn't see what was holding it up. I grabbed the front and back of the tire and started ramming it back and forth. It dropped like a rock, right on my face. I rolled out from under the van and thought I had been given an overhand right by king kong. Blood flowed freely from my face. After I figured out where I was, we finished changing the spare and headed home. There was no way I was going to tie up all those people in some hospital 4 hours from home.
After everyone was home, I went to emerg. Three stiches in one gash and one more in another. Luckily I had my reading glasses on or it would have been a lot more. I got home just in time to take my girls to swimming. I now look like it got hit by the van, not the tire.
I know I should have wound the cable back up close to the dog bone.. bone but after winding it up and down three times, I lost track with all the commotion.
I'm seriously thinking of suing Chrysler, just to get them to address it if nothing else.
Frustrated in CAnada. BTW, I have had two Chrysler Vans myself, and never had this issue, but they were older models, a 96 and a 93.

Boston, MA

#20 Feb 27, 2009
Why would anyone design a spare tire holder like this? I have always been able to change my own spare (no helpless female here) and the fact that I have to wait for anyone to perform this simple task is astonishing and a waste of time. This is the exact type of reason that car makers like Toyota were able to sell so many cars in the US. Why this was not a recall is amazing to me (they probably had no easy way to fix it). The amount of people who must have had trouble with this has got to be in the thousands. It's called usability Chrysler! Wake up! Take some tips from the Sienna!

Thunder Bay, Canada

#21 Mar 15, 2009
Just got left on the side of the road yesterday. 1996 Chrysler Town and Country van. Got a flat tire on a country road and when I went to get the spare tire out it just clicked when I turned the nut counterclockwise. My father had a small business card in the hole where the nut was that said "Push down hard and turn". It didn't do any good Dad! Long story short, we never got the tire down, just had to get help to get the regular tire fixed. Another problem I had is there is no real good spot to jack up the back as there is in the front. The manual is really good at showing where to jack the front up, but they must think that nobody jacks up the back.
What should I do about the clicking nut? Thank you.

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