Spare Tire Stuck - Chrysler Town and Country

Getting a flat tire is something that is bound to happen every couple of years.  Hopefully you get a flat somewhere that you can safely pull over and quickly change the tire.  However when we got a flat on our 2007 Chrysler Town and Country it wasn't such a smooth tire change.

Spare Tire Stuck - Town and Country - Dodge Caravan


We ended up getting a flat on the highway, but managed to pull over on the shoulder of the off ramp.  So i got out the  wrench and jack stand from the back of the van.  I also got the 'T' arm and extender pipe they give you to lower the spare tire down.  The spare tire on the van is right in the middle of the car.  To lower it you remove the cap on the floor between the driver and passenger, then you insert your 'T' wrench thing and twist to lower the steel cable.  You need to completely lower the cable to give yourself enough slack to pull the tire to the side of the van, push the metal butterfly clips together and get your tire and plastic shroud off.  Those butterfly clips are a real pain since they are always rusted and virtually impossible to press together with your hands.  But everything went fine, got the tire changed and ready to drive home.  

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I put the flat tire in the van, since we were going to get a new tire, then tried to wind up the cable.  It started to turn ok, but then kind of jammed up.  It was far enough up to drive so we just left it and went home.  

The next day we went to get 2 new front tires for the van.  A couple hundred dollars later and they guy there comes out and says that they cannot get the spare tire cable to wind back up.  They tried turning it while pulling on the cable but it was stuck.
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So i drove home and tried myself.  I could lower the cable some, but it would not completely wind back up tightly enough.  The spare tire underneath was just kind of swinging.  I tried for another hour but it wouldn't work.

So i jacked up the car, climbed under and removed the whole bracket thing.
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Not sure what you would call it, the spare tire wench / mechanism / assembly / spool / cable / gear?

But it came off with a few bolts, as well as the upper plastic tire shroud.  With it off i could get a better look at everything and try to fix the problem.  A big issue i had was that it was a completely sealed unit.  It was riveted shut, so that meant no opening it up and looking at the wires and gears.  So i just kept winding it up and unwinding it, while applying tension to the cable.  And somehow it eventually popped loose and i was able to wind the cable all the way up.  There must have been some snag inside.  If i wouldn't have been able to loosen it i would have had to buy a whole new mechanism, make my own wench, or keep the spare tire in the back of the car.
my spare tire won't come down on chrysler town and country, dodge caravan

Before i bolted it back under the car i oiled and WD-40'd the butterfly spring clip.  What a huge difference that made.  It went from completely seized to snapping open and shut.

With everything back on the car i put the cable and butterfly clip into the spare tire and wrenched it back up until it tightened into place.  

As usual with car stuff like this, it wasn't super complicated, just a pain to have to fix.

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