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View Full Version : Installed Spare tire kit yesterday



Alvon Elrod
11-27-2011, 03:35 PM
I've seen 3 instances in the past 6 months where cars accidentally ripped out low profile tires and mangled rims, by hitting potholes or catching a curb. Each time I saw folks in this predicament, I told myself that I needed to get a spare tire kit for the new Fiat 500 (there was not an opportunity to specify a spare when buying the original PE's), but never did due to the high price. Well, last week, I was driving the 500 and accidentally caught the tapered part of a curb, where a curb meets a driveway, and put a slight dent in the rim, and a superficial cut in the outer layer of the tire near the rim. I considered myself lucky that it wasn't worse, and convinced myself to buy the pricey spare tire kit immediately, to elimate the worry of possibly being stranded one day.

The kit is fairly easy to install. Sorry, I didn't take photos. The kit comes with good illustrations in the included instructions, but here are a few pointers that the instructions didn't clarify:

You'll need a hole saw to cut the access hole in the rear floor to the winch for raising and lowering the spare. The instructions say 30mm hole saw, but I would say anything between 27mm and 33 mm would work fine (1 1/16" to 1 5/16"). I used 28mm. You'll also need a sharp Exacto knife or razor blade, since the sharp toothed hole saw would just rip up the surrounding carpet or padding underneath the rear flooring.

1) From underneath the rear of the car, look for a vinyl plug that covers the winch access hole in the metal floor. It is on the passenger side. You can push the plug up (it's inserted from the top side) to pop it out of the hole and push it sideways to get it out of the way. You could probably grab it with needle nose pliers to pull it down through the hole. I didn't, because I removed the the inner fiber floor, which the instructions don't recommend -- more about that below.
2) Use Exacto knife or razor blade to cut the 3/4" thick padding that is below the rear fiberboard floor, using the hole in the metal floor as a guide. Remove the padding that you cut, exposing the underside of the fiberboard floor. Drill a small hole in the center of the access hole straight up to go through the fiberboard floor and 'carpet'.
3) From inside the rear hatch, at the location of the drilled hole, mark a circle just bigger than your hole saw, and use the Exacto knife to score the 'carpet'. Remove the carpet circle, exposing the fiberboard flooring.
4) Use the hole saw to cut access hole in the fiberboard, from either the top side or bottom side. You'll probably have a cleaner hole if you cut from the top side. Actually, the fiberboard is so thin, you could cut the hole the remainder of the way through with your Exacto knife if you are patient enough to take the time.
5) Proceed with the rest of the instructions that come with the spare tire kit. The instructions recommend removing the air compressor that comes with the car so you can put the jack and tool kit under the driver seat, but I found that you can strap them both down together, using the existing strap which is just barely long enough to do so.

I mentioned above that I removed the rear floor, which is not necessary, but I preferred to do so rather than working under the car to make the cut in the floor. First, I pushed up the vinyl plug described in step 1) above, and used a permanent marker to mark the floorboard padding with the location of the hole in the metal floor. Then I removed the plastic trim at the base of the hatch opening, inside the trunk area (2 philips head screws, then pull forward and up on the trim to snap out), and removed the cover for the radio amp (pull away from inside wall to snap out -- only the cars with Premium Bose radio will have this amp, which is in the way for removing the floor). You don't need to remove the amp, just the cover, to have enough access to pull the floorboard out. The floorboard is 'hinged' about 8" from the rear. If you lift the rear edge, it will fold at the hinge, allowing you to scootch the floorboard backward far enough to fold the hinged part of the floor over on top of itself. Then lift the floorboard up on the driver side, allowing you to pull it from underneath the amp on the passenger side. With the floorboard out, I found it easier to put the required hole in the floor described above.

I'm glad to have the spare tire in place, in case my family or I ever have to rely on it. I didn't check to see if the standard wheel will fit in the compartment for the spare, under the car, but I will check and report back. My guess is that it will fit (the diameter is only about 1" smaller for the spare), though the thicker standard tire would possibly hang low, and you'd need to be more careful when driving to avoid banging it on something.

Alvon

unknown_eyes
11-27-2011, 05:38 PM
thanks for the info. I plan to purchase the spare kit sometime soon and was wondering about installing it myself.

Thad
11-27-2011, 08:14 PM
Alvon, the next installment of Ricambi will have my installation story and pictures in it.

On the location of the floor mat hole, I removed that round plug from below. Used a sharp awl from under to push up and through the floor to locate the center of the hole. I then just used a razor knife and a socket as a template to cut the hole from above. The new plug/cap they give you is pretty big so you don't need to be very exact with the size or the shape of the hole.

BTW, I've also noticed that the option price of the spare has jumped to $350 on the configurator.

Alvon Elrod
11-27-2011, 08:27 PM
OK, I checked it out. Whether or not the stock 16" rims and wheels (Sport) fit in the spare tire well is a moot point. The hook on the end of the winch that attaches to the spare and lifts it up will not fit the hub of the stock rims. So, the disabled wheel will need to go inside the car if the spare is needed. It won't quite fit in the trunk area without folding down the back seat. I put a large garbage bag in my tool kit, for covering the filthy tire if I need to put it inside the car.

BTW, the spare tire kit is $275 from Fiat, which is about $200 less than buying all the parts individually. However, I'm still bothered that Fiat never provided the option for us to buy the spare tire kit as a $100 adder for the PE cars, as is offered for any of the other cars made since the initial PE offering. We paid enough extra for the PE's as it was. It is what it is.

Alvon

Bert
12-08-2011, 04:19 PM
Thanks for all the info, I too will be installing the kit. Just need to find the time!

Bert Cripe
Port Orchard, WA
PE#480