This post will certainly be too much for some, so the TL;DR crowd can go to the bottom to find my questions, however any suggestions are much appreciated (if not needed) in regards to my plan.
I am sure that a lot of these are covered in so many places on the internet, but I figured I'd try to ask here for some help in learning because the community seems great.
I am extremely new to the Jeep community (As in I don't even have a Jeep, yet!) and to the car world in general, but I have been car shopping for a few months now, and have decided on a Wrangler. Nothing catches my interest more.
I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but I want a decently capable off-roader that still holds a little bit of highway friendliness. I currently drive a '99 Cavalier that's (slowly) falling apart, so anything will be an upgrade in creature comforts. I plan to buy a 2013 Wrangler Sport with no options packages. AC has never been important to me, I hate power windows, and the standard transmission is cheaper (I have seen some baseline, and even some communications group 2013s at local dealers for >$20,000). With this, I intend to build a decently able off-roader, highway commuter, general purpose Jeep. From what research I've done, it seems that lift height and tire size limits for highway friendliness tends to be 2-3" lift with 35s.
Now, I have watched tons of YouTube videos and read a lot of forum posts about different kinds of lifts, but none of them help me out a lot because they have a specific budget in mind, do x with y amount of money, talking about specific parts without explaining their purpose. I am more interested in long term durability, quality, and function than the initial budget. Obviously stuff breaks, and I think that will be half of the fun of owning a Jeep... ANYWAYS! QUESTIONS BELOW
I have read that a 3" lift with 35s is generally the max without running into spending money in lots of other places like fixing the gearing ratios, adding a lot of drag underneath of the vehicle, and losing horses... Is this true?
I have also read that the better route to lift is with shocks and coils, not spacers. Is this true?
In regards to shocks and coils, what adjustable pieces make life easier in terms of longevity and durability? Will adjustable control arms or track bar help with minimizing wear and tear?
In one video I saw, the driveshaft, or I guess more directly the pinion angles, were messed up after a 3" lift. The driveshaft couldn't sit straight after the lift due to the strange exhaust set up in the JK. Is a new, slimmer driveshaft the better way to go when tackling this problem? I have also seen what I guess are exhaust extensions, which allow the pipe to sit back far enough to not mess with the driveshaft/pinion angles.
Are c-gussets or axle housing worth it? Does it really minimize axle damage?
EDIT: Could someone also please explain the terminology associated with the axles? What is a dana 30 vs 44, which one is on the standard 2013 Sport? Are the axles themselves worth replacing?
And lastly, this is the least important question in my mind but still something worth receiving input on, what are the most reputable brands for aftermarket JK parts? I have seen tons of kits, is this the way to go? Can you even viably lift your vehicle using parts from different vendors/manufacturers?
If it is possible (have to see if my uncle will let me use his garage), I would like to install it myself when the time comes, and I will probably get it aligned at a shop, depending on my uncles tools.
SORRY FOR ALL THE NEWBISH QUESTIONS!
I am a brand spanking new amateur tinkerer/Jeeper, so if these questions are just stupid or don't make any sense I am very sorry! I know this was a long read and I thank anyone for their time if they read it/contribute! THANK YOU!
Well, onetraveller does have a point...but, since I need to blow off some steam I will take a stab at giving you my .02 USD.
With respect to the folks at Daystar, coils and shocks are far preferable in my opinion. They allow you to tune your Jeep's performance to precisely what you want it to be. Stock coils and spacers will not articulate over the same range as longer coils, they won't adjust ride quality either. If you like the stock ride quality and are not too concerned with trying to run long travel shocks, spacers will do you fine for the springs. However, at that point I would definitely tell you to run either shock adapters or upgrade to better shocks to take advantage of the lift height. Otherwise you'll end up with a whopping 1.5-2 inches of down travel.
I did my own lift in my tiny little one car garage with basic hand tools. It was harder than it needed to be. Air impact tools and a little more work space make things much better and easier. I eventually got to a buddies place and made use of some of those "luxuries" - way easier.
If you use the Google machine, you'll quickly note the difference between axles. Namely, they refer to different models and, typically, the higher the number the stronger the axle. So, a Dana 44 is a more robust axle than a Dana 30. That is why the Rubicon comes with a D44 front and rear - good idea to have the extra beef when you run a locker. That being said, axle internals also effect strength. The quality of the gears, the half shafts, number of splines, etc. play a role. You can sleeve, truss and gusset your axles to tolerate more abuse (that does work and it has a place in modifying for larger tires especially), but don't neglect the internals.
Lastly, you can absolutely put together parts from different companies in the combination of your choice and have a perfectly serviceable lift that performs well.
If you have not been off road there are many variables as to how to build for the different types of terrain and conditions where you wheel that could determine exactly how you will set your Jeep up. Steep hills, rock, mud, sand, water and even the local weather ect. These all have a role in what tires, suspension, gears, transmission, engine mods, body and chassis armor, bumpers, winch, lights other equipment and accessories you choose to put on your Jeep to enhance on and off road performance and reliability. My experience is that the more off road capability built into a Jeep TJ and JK that is done it sacrifices the on highway performance of the stock Jeep. We have a 04 Rubicon with 3 1/2" Terraflex 33" GY Duratracs, and a 13 JKU 2.5" Rock Krawler lift with GY 35" Duratracs both have bumpers a winch, armor and a few other accessories. They both are awesome off road but do not drive quite as well on the highway as they did when totally stock. There is a trade off when you build up your Jeep. Also if you plan to do difficult off roading with regard to obstacles and terrain buy the best quality you can in components you put on. Also as I found out after buying our first one, "Jeep" can stand for "Just Empty Every Pocket" the up grading or repairs never seems to end, but we enjoy the heck out of it .
I lurked for a couple of months and the synthesis of the lift question (in my interpretation) is this... A budget boost (spacers) will give you a decent enough lift to accommodate larger tires. The problem comes when you add the additional weight associated with off roaring (bumpers, winch etc)
My two cents
__________________ Never share a foxhole with someone braver than yourself
2013 JK Sport, Dozer, Auto, 3.5 AEV lift, Nitto 35s, Black Rock D909S Wheels, AEV bumper, PIAA lights, Wet Okoles, FlowMaster 40, G2 Diff Covers, K&N, Springfield XD 40 ...
Onetraveller said it best, wheel the Jeep of your choice and learn what it is capable of first. you will find that after a year of driving/wheeling, your jeep will speak to you, telling you what it needs if anything. also do not believe that one lift kit will satisfy your needs. do not let others spend YOUR money on what THEY want, don't be afraid to start small and work up unless you have a BIG money tree to pick from. you were not born competeing for track, you grow into it if you know what I mean.
Buy the Jeep, then spend a year off-roading it stock.
Once you have a better idea of how competent a stock Jeep is, then come back and start talking about the modifications you want to make.
None of the modifications you are asking about are necessary to have a "decently able off-roader, highway commuter, general purpose Jeep." The factory has already done that for you.
If your plan is to upgrade to 35's down the line than add the tow package with 3.73 gear ratio. You will thank me for that later. Also, get half doors. Nobody has them and they will be very rare and very $$ to get ahold of down the line. The doors are a free option and I'm not sure about the gears but it will be much cheaper than a regear down the line to move those 35's. Purchasing with the right options will set you up for success down the line.