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Old 09-28-2013, 11:59 AM   #1
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Buying JEEP for my 16 yr old son -- seeking advice

Hi I'm brand new to the forum. I'm a 45 yr old father of 4 and owned (2) Jeeps when growing up (Mid 70's CJ-5's in the 80's and 90's when I was in college). My son is getting his license in Oct and I plan on getting him a JEEP Unlimited. It will not be used for off-roading much--mainly just driving short distances to school (2 miles) and around town here in flat Tampa. Much of the aftermarket stuff we want to add to it is for looks and fun. Below is the list of items we'd like to put on it, but:
1. I am torn whether to buy new and add these things, or buy a used JEEP with them already on.
2. If we buy new, should we buy a JEEP Sport and add these items, or a higher model like a Rubicon? If he's not going offroading, I dont see the benefit of many of the Sahara/Rubicon features.
3. Secondly if we buy new whats a ballpark of how much these items will cost to add (parts and labor).

ITEMS Wanted:
3" lift
bigger wheels and tires
aftermarket off road front fenders
aftermarket brush guard front bumper
tubular side steps
offroad light bar/baja lights
premium stereo
class 3 trailer hitch.

With mainly around town and little highway driving should we get a different differential to increase torque, low end power for around town? Maybe also get a louder exhaust.

He will be driving himself and often my 3 other kids to school (ages 15, 15, 11) so safety is more important to me than money. Originally I was thinking used, but to my surprise a 2007 with 50,000 miles were going for around $18K and a new 2014 can be had for in the $20's. To me $10K more seemed reasonable for a 7 year newer car. Only difference is the new car will also need the cost of the upgrades.

So in summary how much would the above upgrades cost to add to a new JEEP? Keep in mind that for off road enthusiasts many of the upgrades will be much more because they also involve serious suspension upgrades, or tires better for offroading, etc.. In our case we are looking for the look but dont need the actual offroading performance (yes u can call us posers, no worries).

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Old 09-28-2013, 12:06 PM   #2
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BTW, if you are wondering why a JEEP, ther are several reasons:
1. MY son wants something cool, but I didn't want him to have a sports car. He initially wanted a Hyundai Geneisis, or sporty ricer, but I dont want a car that is fast or encourages speed. JEEPS cool, but are still slow. They are not conducive to peeling out, sliding around corners or driving fast. They make their mark by their presence. He needs a car big enough to hold him and his 3 siblings plus their sports gear. A JEEP fits these needs and is cooler than getting him a regular SUV. Its a littel more dangerous due to the rollover factor, but its a little less dangerous because I think he'll bee seen better in a big red jeep, he can see others better, and its fairly slow and its a bigger heavier car. Lastly, yes as a plus I get to re-live my youth

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Old 09-28-2013, 12:12 PM   #3
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I'd say get a new one and add on the parts with your son... Little father-son bonding... If you do go used, I'd try to get something stock... You don't want to inherit someone else's bad driving mistakes or poor installs...

What I plan on doing is getting a mid 70's-80ish CJ-7 once my son turns 8 and we will restore it (with a few fun mods)... On his 18th birthday, it's his... I can't hardly wait!
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:12 PM   #4
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When i was shopping for my first Jeep, i looked at used ones and i got surprised-they hold the value really good, so i decided to get brand new unlimited for couple extra thousands. I got sport model, because i was planning on adding aftermarket parts, and rubicon was out of my budget. Expect to pay $3000-5000 for up to 35" wheels/tires combo and 2.5" lift with some other minor accessories.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:15 PM   #5
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in general unless the built up used jeep has some geez whiz stuff on it.. most folks try to buy a stock jeep to build off. this is due to not knowing how the install was donel or what problems might be found on the used modded jeep, the quality of parts etc.

As for a new jeep.. yes you have to add stuff to it.. but it does not have to happen right away.. With a new driver I would want them to demonstrate they can control and be responsible with it in stock.. be fore I started added big tires and lots of stuff that might make it handle different.

Thus unless you can find agreat deal on a older one.. new might be best.. but don't limit yourself to JK's.. you can find nice deals on older TJ's as well.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:17 PM   #6
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First off your son is SUPER lucky!!!

Go onto 4wheelparts.com and put together a shopping cart of everything you want for the jeep and you'll have your price.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:18 PM   #7
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35's and a 3" lift installed will be $4000, off road bumpers $2000, fenders $2000, lights $500, stereo $1000, ...., I'd say you are looking at $10k minimum to satisfy your list of mods and have someone else install it all.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:18 PM   #8
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Thank you for the feedback. We will look at new then. Some jeeps seem to not only have bigger tires (35") but they have a wider stance (the tires seem to stick out more). Is this just due to the tires been wider or can you get a kit that widens the stance? (aka wheel spacers or something to that effect?). I think it both looks good but may also reduce rollovers. Any thoughts? What is that called?
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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Thank you for the feedback. We will look at new then. Some jeeps seem to not only have bigger tires (35") but they have a wider stance (the tires seem to stick out more). Is this just due to the tires been wider or can you get a kit that widens the stance? (aka wheel spacers or something to that effect?). I think it both looks good but may also reduce rollovers. Any thoughts? What is that called?
Wheel spacers will widen the stance, but if you're buying wheels and tires anyway, might as well just get some wheels with decent backspacing... Less parts = less to go wrong...
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:28 PM   #10
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Thank you for the feedback. We will look at new then. Some jeeps seem to not only have bigger tires (35") but they have a wider stance (the tires seem to stick out more). Is this just due to the tires been wider or can you get a kit that widens the stance? (aka wheel spacers or something to that effect?). I think it both looks good but may also reduce rollovers. Any thoughts? What is that called?
You can use the stock rims to put bigger tires on to save money but you will have to use spacers and everyone has an opinion on them. They give a wider stance just like new rims would at a lower cost. So to answer your question tires will play some in the wider stance but most of it comes from the rims and the offset of the rims.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:29 PM   #11
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To add to what the previous posters have said, I think a Wrangler is one of the best first vehicles for a 16 year old. Many people want there kids to have basic everyday cars that don't require any maintenance or responsibility, to make it easier on their kids. Driving a wrangler will make your son much more responsible, will educate him on the mechanics of vehicles, and will teach him skills that he can't learn from anything else. I know this from experience (bought my jeep when I was 16) This applies to any model jeep you decide for him, but an Unlimited will probably be your best bet for daily comfort and stability.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:34 PM   #12
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I would make him buy his own car and upgrades for it because that's how my parents did it to me and I got a nice jeep I just had to save my money and if he buys it himself he will take better care of it too
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:55 PM   #13
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Lucky kid.Sounds like you have cash to work with .If I had the money for my son I would go with a Sport S or Sahara with auto and power convenience group with the max tow option which will get you 3:73 gears (good for DD with 35" tires ) and a hitch.Aftermarket wheels with more offset and wider tires will make the width of the Jeep wider and make it more stable which is a good thing.With no trails in mind look for a tire with a good rain rating. 3" lift on a JKU and 35" tires 3:73 gears is a good DD combo. Dont skimp on a cheap lift. Look at AEV or Terraflex and some Rancho 9k shocks for a comfortable ride.Make sure you get the stereo with Bluetooth .It works good and is worth it for safety.Poison spider makes some really nice bumpers as does ACE. ACE rock sliders are very nice at keeping other people from opening car doors into the side.Well worth the money.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:06 PM   #14
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I think buying a new car for a kid is a terrible idea. I would buy used and I would go older and let them learn the responsibility of owning a vehicle. I love jeeps but they have terrible crash ratings and we all want our kids to be safe so a jeep is probably not a great first car but to each their own.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:10 PM   #15
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Less is More

Love the excitement that comes with planning a new Jeep!

About me ... I started life in the "car business" before I graduated high school. I've worked in auto body, repair, service, sales, and finance. I changed my career path years back but my love of cars persists. I have owned about 7 Jeeps (in addition to many other cars, trucks and race cars) including YJ, TJ and now the JK. I've always considered Wranglers as a bank account.

That said, the cost of used Jeeps rivals new. I would suggest purchasing new and focus on a low interest rate unless of course you're hitting The Pig (Piggy Bank) for cash.

I chose a stripped sport with AC and 3.73 gears as the only added features. My thoughts behind this are simple: Blank canvas. I recommend a 2013 as you should be able to get some sort of a discount as the new model year is being introduced.

After Market and Lifting

The bigger you go the more you spend. I suspect you're looking for reliability, efficiency and THE look.

"The JK can handle 33s in its stock form" ... While this is for the most part true, you will experience some rubbing regardless. Remember this is coming from an old ASE tech with dealership and my own shop experience ... Less is more. The closer you stay to the manufacturers design the better off you will be... Unless your curly tailed friend has offered you a open line of credit ... Then I'd say go long arm and 44s!

I don't work for Chrysler or Teraflex ...

Teraflex has worked with Chrysler to produce lift systems appropriate for the JK. If you want a 3" lift I would first ask WHY? To lift appropriately you will spend about $5000 ... About $3000 for a lift SYSTEM and $2000 on wheels and tires. You can spend less, but you will receive less. You get what you pay for when it comes to lifting.

There are those who will say you can jam hockey pucks above your springs and get three inches ... perhaps thats true, and to be honest in my younger days I made my own "lift kits" ... the reality here is you can do whatever you want, but the question here is, what you want the best option?

For your application I would recommend a leveling kit - coil springs and new shocks ... stay away from spacers, extensions and incomplete "kits".

Teraflex makes a "Performance Leveling Kit" rated at 1.5 inches. The kit comes with 4 coil springs, and two sway bar links. The height given is an average. The reality is you will see a minimum of 2 inches in the front and a minimum of 1.5 inches in the back. The kit is designed to obviously level the Jeep, provides for a much better ride quality and increase suspension articulation.

You can run this kit with stock shocks but I suggest upgrading the factory shocks to complete the SYSTEM. Bilstein makes shocks for vehicles with zero to two inches of lift ... they are slightly longer than stock and the ride quality and performance is notable.

Tires & Wheels

17x9 with a 4.75" back space is my wheel of choice. This size wheel will keep up to a 10" wide tire tucked neatly under the wheel wells. I'm not a big fan of the roller skate - monster truck look on vehicles that spend most of their days on the pavement. I drove around with 44" Super Swampers on 15" wheels and had to keep my windows closed because of water, mud and debris constantly slinging up into the cab.

285/70-17 is in my opinion the perfect size tire tire for a Jeep running 3.73 gears. Mounted on the rims I mentioned above, these tires peek out from the wheel wells about half an inch. They are 32.7" in diameter and a little over 11" wide .. basically a 33" tire. In 5th gear at 65mph you will run 2500rpm which is perfect for rolling hills. 6th gear you will be 2000rpm which is within the "ECO" range, and pull perfectly on flat open road. I run in the hills of Georgia and maintain 17-19mpg consistently with this setup. I have run this tire and gear combination on all my Jeeps that were intended for road use of any kind.

As for the other bolt on goodies ... Your choice on style. There are lots of great companies out there with products for every kind application and budget.

My Jeep pictured is not my daily driver, however it is driven regularly on the road. I tow a small utility trailer, and use this Jeep for farm work ... Yes, farm work. This Jeep rides the fence line, crosses creeks, cruises gravel roads, moves calves and hauls deer carcass. Although pictured with a top, this Wrangler as all my others resides in the garage with no top, no doors, and a duster. I can drive it to dinner, to the mall, and to the mountains. Also pictured is my Sahara which was used for the same purpose.

Both Jeeps are basically outfitted the same way.

Enjoy your new Jeep!
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:15 PM   #16
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I'd aim for an '07 or '08, automatic. The auto will let the kid focus on situational awareness before worrying about what gear he should be in or when to shift. The 3.8/auto will keep him doing the speed limit.

Once he has a few years getting used to the steering/suspension, and decides if he likes the vehicle type, you can think of trading in on a '12+. The 3.6L (2012+), especially with a manual transmission is no slouch and may encourage "testing its limits"...
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:27 PM   #17
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No offense, but I think you SHOULD take your son offroad and teach him how to wheel safely and tread lightly even if it's on light trails etc and get him used to how it handles and what it can do on road and offroad... Otherwise you might get a phone call some night from your son when he rolled it over in the woods or hydro locked it going through deep water/mud.

I don't know your kid he may be very well behaved but if you don't think a high schooler with a modded wrangler isn't going to wheel it or succumb to peer pressure and tear up someone's private property I think you're wrong.

Again, I don't mean to offend at all, just a 'heads up'!
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:29 PM   #18
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Thank you for the feedback. We will look at new then. Some jeeps seem to not only have bigger tires (35") but they have a wider stance (the tires seem to stick out more). Is this just due to the tires been wider or can you get a kit that widens the stance? (aka wheel spacers or something to that effect?). I think it both looks good but may also reduce rollovers. Any thoughts? What is that called?
Wider tires require a "backspace" that essentially moves the rim(and tire) away from the center of the Jeep. Moving away from the center puts the tire further outside the wheel well.

Move the tire further out helps to prevent the tire from rubbing on the suspension and inner wheel wells.

35s look spectacular on the JK and yes I think they improve lateral stability, however larger, wider tires increase wear and tear on the axles. They also increase wear on your brakes, overall drivetrain and reduce fuel economy.

You'll be spending less time in 6th gear at lower speeds
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:35 PM   #19
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When I started driving, my dad put us (my 5 older brothers) in 4-7 year old diesel Mercedes sedans...super reliable, frugel on fuel, 60 hp and zero to 60 in about 45 seconds....oh yeah, and über-safe.
The house rule was that a new driver had to log 10,000 miles before anyone could ride with him. Dad figured that if you were going to kill yourself as a new driver...it would happen in those initial inexperienced miles. While he drove Corvettes and Ferraris (this was the late 60s and 70s)...at no point did he give a care whether we looked cool or not. We did not care since....we had wheels!

As our daughter approaches that age...we often look at what vehicles would fit her needs in early driving. More often than not, subarus are at the top of the list. Wranglers have never actually hit that list in our household.

I would say that if you are dead set on a wrangler....I would look do one with the side impact airbag option, and most importantly, I would not raise the center if gravity by lifting the vehicle or getting bigger tires. While the pre-2012 wranglers are only 200hp... The newer pentastar equipped wranglers have some pretty good acceleration capabilities.

If it were me.....I would buy the Jk for myself and put the kids in a used Subaru wagon or Jeep grand Cherokee.

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Old 09-28-2013, 01:41 PM   #20
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PS: I have a Jeep dealer friend who is selling "ready to go", lifted Wranglers with 315s which is the "35" everyone seems to want... It's really a 34 and some change ...

In any event... He tells me "this is what people want", "but its not the best choice". I've seen a few Procomp lifts with XD wheels and they look great, but the dealers are charging through the gazoo and rolling the cost into finance.

I personally don't like the 35 - 3.73 combo.... It puts your engine RPM into the 2200rpm range at 65mph. 6th gear drops to about 1650 - 1700 rpm. Off-idle cruising does not work well. I know Florida is flat ground and obviously people are doing it, but I think 35s and 4.10s area much better choice for overall efficiency and economy. If I was wheeling on 35s I'd want 4.88 gears.

Easiest way to compare this is to drive a Sport with standard gears and then drive a Rubicon. In my opinion the Rubi is geared perfectly from the factory.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:43 PM   #21
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New well equipped unlimited sport s=$30k
2.5"-3"=$1k
5 wheels=$750
5 35" tires=$1750
Bushwhacker flat fenders=$600
Warn elite front bumper=$600
Warn elite rear with tire carrier=$1300
Ace rails=$350
HU, speakers, amp, sub=$1k
Kc windshield light bar and 5 lights=$500
Trailer hitch=$100

So about $30k for a new jeep then about $8k in accessories plus install costs if you dont do it yourself. You could shave off several grand by going used, using cheaper brands, installing yourself, and/or omitting some components.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:46 PM   #22
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I'd say get a new one and add on the parts with your son... Little father-son bonding... If you do go used, I'd try to get something stock... You don't want to inherit someone else's bad driving mistakes or poor installs...

What I plan on doing is getting a mid 70's-80ish CJ-7 once my son turns 8 and we will restore it (with a few fun mods)... On his 18th birthday, it's his... I can't hardly wait!
I like this idea. I have a 3 year old daughter myself, but the father son bonding time working on the rig is priceless. Don't buy one already built. Not only will you miss out on learning and having a great time, you will most certainly overpay.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:51 PM   #23
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When I started driving, my dad put us (my 5 older brothers) in 4-7 year old diesel Mercedes sedans...super reliable, frugel on fuel, 60 hp and zero to 60 in about 45 seconds....oh yeah, and über-safe.
The house rule was that a new driver had to log 10,000 miles before anyone could ride with him. Dad figured that if you were going to kill yourself as a new driver...it would happen in those initial inexperienced miles. While he drove Corvettes and Ferraris (this was the late 60s and 70s)...at no point did he give a care whether we looked cool or not. We did not care since....we had wheels!

As our daughter approaches that age...we often look at what vehicles would fit her needs in early driving. More often than not, subarus are at the top of the list. Wranglers have never actually hit that list in our household.

I would say that if you are dead set on a wrangler....I would look do one with the side impact airbag option, and most importantly, I would not raise the center if gravity by lifting the vehicle or getting bigger tires. While the pre-2012 wranglers are only 200hp... The newer pentastar equipped wranglers have some pretty good acceleration capabilities.

If it were me.....I would buy the Jk for myself and put the kids in a used Subaru wagon or Jeep grand Cherokee.

Doc
Great points here Doc! I drove a 240D back in the day as a commuter. Subaru may eventually become one of the "other" cars in my garage one day.

When Jeep introduced the 4-door Wrangler I questioned the wisdom behind it. I also questioned supplemental airbags, roll mitigation and stability controls. These are features I came to know and love in my Mini Cooper! Well after driving the new Jeeps I believe it was Chrysler's intent to reach a new market sector. Wranglers perform more like an SUV and are quite refined now.

I personally would select something low and slow for my daughters first vehicle but I think a stock Wrangler is not that far out of the realm of possibility. Considering their capability, once could get themselves into some trouble with a Subaru as easily in a Jeep
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:58 PM   #24
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Many many parents will buy their kids a first car, and many will be brand new. But to MOD it and promote that type of hobby? Awesome.
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Old 09-28-2013, 02:12 PM   #25
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Mines not slow!
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Old 09-28-2013, 02:30 PM   #26
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i think buying a new car for a kid is a terrible idea. I would buy used and i would go older and let them learn the responsibility of owning a vehicle. I love jeeps but they have terrible crash ratings and we all want our kids to be safe so a jeep is probably not a great first car but to each their own.


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Old 09-28-2013, 02:50 PM   #27
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I think buying a new car for a kid is a terrible idea. I would buy used and I would go older and let them learn the responsibility of owning a vehicle. I love jeeps but they have terrible crash ratings and we all want our kids to be safe so a jeep is probably not a great first car but to each their own.
Live a little, plain and simple. We can't hide in a box and play by the rules our entire lives. I believe that can be called 'prude'. People like that die of heart attacks at a very young age. Not good.

If the dad is 'cool' enough to want to splurge for the kid then so be it and enjoy every moment of it.
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Old 09-28-2013, 02:51 PM   #28
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Please clarify the difference between the different gears (stock vs 3.73 vs 4.10). I believe (but am not positive) that the bigger the number the slower the cars top end-- shorter gears and more torque. So for each size bigger on tire you go, you should have a bigger number rear end to offset it. Is this correct?

If we put on 35" tires and may sometimes tow a trailer should we go 3.73 or 4.10? (mainly around town driving, not much highway).

Also what is the "stock" rear end gear ratio 9whats the number lower than the 3.73?)
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:01 PM   #29
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Numerically LOWER gears are considered "High" or higher gearing

Numerically HIGHER gears are considered "Low" or lower gearing

3.73 gears a HIGHER than 4.10 gears

4.10 gears are LOWER than 3.73 gears

The numbers represent a ratio - 4.10:1 (4.10 to 1)

What this means is for every 4.1 rotations of the driveshaft, the tire makes one revolution.

I think 4.56 is a good middle of the road for towing, economy and off-road performance. Personally I would want 4.88s with a 35" tire.

4.10 gears with 35s will put you at about 2500rpm in 5th gear at 65mph. This is a highway cruiser. you can tow with it but you're going to use 4th and 5th gear to compensate for the higher ration.

I would not recommend 3.73 gears for 35" tires... No bigger than 33" tires and this combo will put you in about the same place for towing as compared to 4.10 with 35s

To put this into perspective, MOPAR matches 4.10 gears with a 31" tire on the Rubicon. Personally I think the Rubicon is about as close to perfection as one can get with a production vehicle. My bet is Chrysler agrees with this.
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:09 PM   #30
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whats does a stock unlimited sport come with for a ratio?

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