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Our 2002 in Thunderbird Blue with Performance White Top
Flat Tire Storage
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Fitting the OEM Wheel & Tire into the
Trunk Wheel Well
The New Thunderbird
Have you ever wondered if you could fit the Stock Wheel and Tire into the trunk wheel well if you had a flat tire on your T-bird? This will answer that question...  with pictures.  Yes! You Can Do It.

Is this "Ripley's Believe it or Not?"  No, but really, you can put your OEM Tire and rim into your trunk and close the trunk lid.  NO bungy cords needed!

With this procedure, not only can the wheel and tire be placed in the trunk well, but the well cover can be placed over it and the trunk repacked with almost all that was in it before. The well cover does sit higher because of the width of the tire so there is a little bit of loss of packing space.

The key to putting the wheel/tire in the trunk is the alignment of the jack. If you don't have the time to do that, take the jack out and pack jack on top of the cover - works either way. 

There is about 2 inches of space all around the spare tire so knew it could be done. The spare tire is also the same diameter/circumference as the stock wheel but just narrower so the well cover fits.  (Be sure to read the Spare Tire page for important info about replacing them due to their age).

You might even be able to get non-stock wheels and tires into the trunk but I don't have experience with doing that.  If it's a tighter fit , then definitely take the jack out of the well.

btw - the trunk well in the 02 is the same as the trunk well in the 05 - no changes. We used an 05 wheel/tire in the 02 trunk for the following pictures as it was convenient - they are the exact same size.
 

Starting with the wheel and tire.
with a little photo humor....
Then- The design of the well cover
02 Well Cover Just to show you that they are the same.
05 Well Cover This photo also shows a logo trunk mat available from Ford.
Then the design of the well with spare tire in place
2005 left side 2005 right side Please note instruction sheet for using the jack and placement of spare tire.  At this point, you will need 60#s of air pressure in the spare tire if you're going to use it on the car. Tire pressure instructions are molded into the spare tire.  Do read them.
2002 left side 2002 right side  Do check the air in your spare at least a couple of times a year if not every time you have the air pressure checked in your stock tires (30# for the stock tires).
Of course, you will need to remove the spare tire to place the stock tire into the well.  Keep track of the hold down nut and washer.  It may also be used to hold down the stock wheel.
Jack Placement
Jack positioned normally - stock tire is difficult to impossible to put in while jack is in this position.  Let all air out of tire(if not already deflated) if you do not reposition jack. Above all, please don't yell at me if it's difficult to place this way. Jack repositioned for Stock tire placement Jack removed if you don't want to mess with repositioning.
Place jack on top of well cover once you have the wheel in place.
Putting tire in Well
With jack Without jack - fits the same.
close up view 
Spindle Cap in Place
It came to my attention this year (2012) that some T-birds may be missing their spare tire spindle cap by now.  This cap is a small, black plastic cap placed over the top of the spindle that holds the spare tire in place in the well.  It's sole duty is to keep the spindle rod from poking thru the wheel well Cover.  If you do not see this spindle cap on your spare tire's spindle, then it may have fallen off and might be under your spare tire.  Do check as we have not been able to find a replacement source for this cap yet.  There is no part # on it.  It also seems to be used on other makes of cars. 

If you can not find your  T-bird's spindle cap, then tape a piece of thin metal or hard plastic to the underside of your cover until you can find a replacement that will work. 

The black plastic cap just slips over the top of the spindle.  It does not screw down.

Spindle Cap for 2002 to 2005 Ford Thunderbird
Cover in Place
Note that the cover is now raised about 2 inches above the normal floor of the trunk.     Be carefull that you cover the  open areas created, with something large and flat so nothing will fall in on the battery (you don't want a battery short after dealing with a flat, now do you?)  Repack carefully so you don't crack or break the cover - despite your temper at the moment for having to fix a flat.
Better have a designated driver with you if you've packed your trunk  in this manner and had to fix a flat!  Note: Due to the height of a full size tire in the trunk well, the well cover will NOT fit upside down.  You'll just have to live with that until you can get the tire repaired or replaced.
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Click on photos to enlarge.

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