This is the eighth tire carrier that we have reviewed here at 4WAAM. I’m not sure that makes us experts but we sure know what doesn’t work. It’s too early to give the Pivot HD carrier a grade, but there are definitely some features that may give it an advantage over the competition.
I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of the casting, the finish of the welded parts and the overall fit and finish of the Pivot carrier. It’s reinforced in all of the load-bearing points and is one of the best-built pieces from Smittybilt I have ever used.
There is a massive reinforcement bracket that goes inside the taillight well. It backs up the inside hinge mounts creating a sandwich over the sheet metal. I can’t say for sure how much strength this adds to the package, I know I feel better that it is there. There is absolutely no doubt it protects the tailgate from sagging at full open.
Install was easy. It’s a 1 for 1 swap of parts with the factory carrier. You reuse the factory tire carrier hardware, and Smittybilt provides all of the necessary hardware for the new parts. The hardest part of replacing a tailgate-mounted carrier on the JL is removing the interior panels.
The directions provided wander a little bit and they have pictures from a different model. This makes it a little frustrating trying to understand what they want you to do towards the end of the directions. The early section is picture perfect and really helps you dial in the carrier setup with minimal extra effort.
I didn’t use the provided taillight mount. I can’t seem to locate my original taillamp so I wired in an LED behind the wheel brake light.
The Pivot HD tire carrier is easy to open, it was easy to get everything level and have the tailgate close smoothly. That’s not something I can say for several other carriers I have tested. There were no spacers or other mechanisms to fool around with.
The finish appears that it will be very durable. The bolts less so. I get the feeling as soon as the paint is exposed to the elements they will rust. When that happens I will upgrade the hardware.
The camera housing is too long. It creates a porthole effect with the backup camera. Not the end of the world but it definitely could be addressed by shortening the nose of the housing.
I will follow up after a few months with how it is performing and whether it stays quiet in all situations.