Add Spare Tire Lift to 2013 Chevy Volt

Note: Click on the pictures to embiggen.

The Chevy Volt does not come with a spare tire. Instead, you get a can of goo and an air compressor. Many people have added a proper spare to the car, but then comes the problem of where to keep it. It takes up a huge amount of space in the trunk. One solution is to hang it under the trunk from a retractible wire.

One intrepid mechanic has already solved the problem. Click here to see his solution.

In case the above PDF disappears from the net, here's the parts list:

  • spare wheel/tire 125/90/R16, bolt pattern 5x115, hub bore 70.3, rim diameter 16". I think Chevy Cruz uses the same wheel.
  • spare wheel lift mechanism from Huyndai Santa Fe 2006-2010. I got a new one via an Ebay vendor for about $75.
  • Jack (above reference says VW Golf 5, but I found a random one in the junk yard that works fine.)
  • 19mm lug wrench for the wheel lugs.
  • 21mm socket wrench to turn the lift mechanism crank.

Since I have also added a trailer hitch to my Volt, my version of this is somewhat different. I have documented my installation here.

To get started, remove the carpeted cover, and then unbolt the big plastic cover over the battery and electronics cooling fan. That's four 10mm nuts. You'll need a deep socket. I didn't need to move the battery. Also, unbolt the plastic shield under the "trunk". That's about 8 sheet metal screws, two with small torx heads.

Inside trunk view with one hitch mounting bolt removed, and most of the holes drilled for the Hundai lift mechanism

The lift is bolted in now, and the second trailer hitch mounting bolt has been replaced. I notched the 6mm steel plate that is used to re-inforce the floor for the hitch, so it would clear the bolt for the lift mechanism. Instead of that great notch, I could have drilled an 8mm hole and used a longer bolt for the lift mechansim.

I have drilled and added a third bolt to the crank end of the lift mechanism. The bolt is about 35mm long, as it has to pass through part of the plastic structure under the trunk. All the bolts are M8. I've also moved that left side cable back to it's correct locating stud; I had moved it to avoid drilling into it.

Cardboard template I made that helped me plan where to drill my holes.

Underside view of the mounted lift. I had to gently bend and twist the lift tube to get the entire mechanism to conform to the non-flat floor. The two big nuts and black thing on the lower right is one part of the trailer hitch.

Slightly closer view of the lift mounted to the car. You can see that one of the three mounting bolts for the crank mechanism goes through the plastic structure, near where the plastic shield attached.

I managed to get the plastic shield back in place. I had to cut a relief here and at the crank end as well. I also used the heat gun to soften the material so I could bend it a bit to conform better.

I did have to relocate some of the wiring harness so the tire would not rub on it. This is left as an exercise for the reader.

The trunk liner thing that has storage pockets for the charger and compressor will need (at a minimum) a hole drilled for the tire lift crank shaft to protrude through. Hole size is about 1 inch. Those cheap step drills that you can get from Harbor Freight are fabulous for cutting these large holes, in both plastic as well as the steel trunk floor.

My crank location ended up right against the wall of one of the storage recesses, so I heated up that part of the plastic and deformed it to give some clearance around the shaft. Otherwise, there's no room to get a socket on the lift crank shaft.

This shows the lift crank shaft protuding into the recess for the charger "big" end.

Photo showing ground clearance. The battery is still the lowest thing on the car.

Bonus: 19mm to 21mm adapter

This is an adapter I cobbled up so that I could operate the lift using the 19mm socket that also fits the car's lug nuts. That should be a 21mm socket, but I had an old 7/8 in my junk box, which is close enough (a shade over 22mm). I glued some coke-can shim inside (not shown) to reduce the size so it's a better fit on the 21mm crank end.

That's a 1/2 x 13 bolt, with a matching nut turned down to fit inside the top of the socket, and another nut that you can see on the outside. I also pinned it together using a 6mm bolt, which head is ground down to make it fit in the confied space between the socket and the plastic trunk "wall".


Q. Will you fix my car?

A. No, I'm retired and so not interested in a job.


This is just my "build log". I don't claim that building this is safe or recommended.

Drills are dangerous, be careful.

William Dudley
August 1, 2020