My name is Dan, I've been a car nut since I could drive and have had a lot of fun with my previous cars (2003 Legacy, 2005 Saabaru, 1998 4Runner, 1996 Miata, 2013 BRZ) and just recently purchased a 2003 Sahara Wrangler. The car has been fun, but it comes with a bit of backstory.
Basically, before the Wrangler I owned a BRZ. For one reason or another (moving, downsizing) I was forced to get rid of the car rather quickly and fairly unexpectedly. I had been looking at Wranglers for a while and was planning on purchasing an LJ, but the sudden change in my life forced me out of the BRZ and I had to find a car quickly. Looked around, couldn't find any clean LJ's locally, and wound up with the 2003 Sahara simply based on it being the cleanest I could find (underneath was clean/recently rust coated, low mileage) with a hardtop, a D44, and an automatic (I know the 4-speed sucks, but I wanted away from a manual for my newest DD).
Now, since buying the Jeep I've learned I probably should have bought a stock one, but I didn't and now I feel like I've made a huge mistake. The one I bought has the following parts:
1) 4" Skyjacker lift, including drop pitman arm, LCA's (with joints at the ends at least), transfer case drop, etc
2) 33" BFG a/t's
3) Aftermarket flood lights
I also did my own first mod and installed a Trail Gear front bumper. Really liking it, though I still have to extend the factory fog harnesses.
Now, the tires are almost new and the lights are fine, and very cleanly installed, but the lift is bugging me. Personally, I think it rides decently (it's no stocker but...), but I have no experience with lifted Jeeps. The bigger issue is that I have some vibes at ~60+ that feel like they're coming from the rear, which as I understand it is like drivetrain related since I just rebalanced the tires. It also exhibits slight bump steer (I think), but I'm not sure if replacing the pitman arm would help that.
Now, the driveline vibes leave me with a few options that I can see:
1) Install an SYE and CV driveshaft. This has the benefit of removing the t-case drop, but it would require adjustable UCA's (and probably LCA's) and I don't think I'm comfortable doing the install of the SYE myself, though I could handle the control arms. Parts + labor would likely be in the $900-$1200 range from what I gather. That said, I'm stuck with the Skyjacker lift, and I'm not sure just how terrible that is.
2) Install a lower complete lift kit (looking at the DPG Ultimate kit). This has the advantages of removing the t-case drop, a lower CoG, and better quality parts (including adj trackbars/discos!) but the install, while doable, isn't going to be fun since I would be selling the Skyjacker lift to a friend and cannibalizing the stock parts I would need off his Jeep. Can a suspension swap from one Jeep to another be done in a weekend? Total cost is ~$900-$1200 doing the work myself and "selling" my lift to my friend.
3) I'm not sure this is a viable option, but with budget in mind, maybe it makes sense to just lower the lift (aka buy OME coils but keep the Skyjacker hydros, etc that's on it)? Seems economical and by doing so I could move to 2.5" coils and a 1.25" BL/1" MML without having to swap the ENTIRE suspension. What parts should I change if I were to go this route? Springs/pitman arm/???.
I believe the trackbars are both stock, have not looked to see if there are any brackets but the axles seem centered and the car drives straight and well otherwise. I can afford any of the options, but am wanting to save money if I can while still getting the best bang for my buck. I do want to eventually do a tummy tuck on the Jeep and get rid of the t-case drop, but don't want it any higher than the 4" suspension lift that's on it now, which makes options 2 and 3 much more enticing since I would gain the space to do so.
Thoughts? I didn't buy myself into a Jeep that's unfixable did I? I just want no vibes and the most usuable setup possible on a budget given what I'm working with. I can provide pictures of anything if it would help.
Unrelated: Is it normal for a lifted Jeep on 33's to get ~12-13mpg? I've been calculating with a rough correction factor since I don't think the speedo is calibrated but it still seems really low to me. I was expecting ~15mpg. How much is a speedo gear to correct and what # of teeth should it have?
Also, hi to all. The Jeep community seems awesome, I think I may saunter over to the CO forum (I live in Denver) to see about meeting some people.