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Old 10-07-2012, 09:19 AM   #1
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Why I haven't lifted yet...What's the REAL deal?

Okay, first off, as anyone can see, I've been a member of the forum for quite some time now, and I love it here...but here's the deal.

WTF? I wanna mod, and I come here for the advice of others with experience, and as we all know, it's the internet, so if you talk to 20 people, you get 20 different answers. Next, there are probably more than a few SEPARATE threads dedicated to questions I'm going to ask, but I'm gonna ask'em anyway, because I just get confused when I have to jump from thread to thread hunting down answers...

First, these are the mods I wanna do. I want 35" tires and a 2.5" lift. I don't wanna play with relocating axles, swapping driveshafts, etc. I ain't crawlin' rocks in WV, I'm driving to/from work, and doing some fire trails. The most extreme I'll probably get is riding "Green Trails" at Rausch Creek.

I'm gonna start with the 35" tires...

35" Tire/Wheel Concerns:

1. Am I going to snap/bend axles or damage any other parts because of the added weight/rolling resistance? In other threads, I read about possible issues from running 35" tires and wheels.

2. If the answer to question #1 is "Yes," what do I need to replace/upgrade so I can safely and reliably run 35" tires and wheels?

3. What would be the optimal wheel size I should go with? I wanna clear the brake rotors and get that "pushed out" look for the wheels, but I DO NOT want to run spacers. They're something more to break and simply put, I've never heard ANYTHING good about spacers.

Lift Kit Concerns:


1. First, if it's made in China, don't even suggest it. Right off the bat, I'm pretty sure that's gonna exclude Skyjacker, Rough Country, Rancho, Terra-Flex, ProComp, Rubicon Express, and who knows what else. No offense to people who are using these lifts, and if you've had good luck with them, that's great, but I don't trust ANYTHING made in China.

To make a long story short, if it isn't a lift made in the USA (other than Old Man Emu), I won't even consider it, so you're wasting your time.

Right now, the ones I'm looking at the closest are the 2.5" lifts from Rock Krawler, AEV, and Old Man Emu.

- I've heard of some issues with the Rock Krawler stuff being tough to set up and correctly locate axles, and then there are rubbing issues I've heard of.

- I've heard some say AEV parts are good for the road but are unreliable once things get a little hairy. While 95% of my driving will probably be done on asphalt, there is that 5% left unaccounted for. I wanna be able to enjoy that 5% without having to call AAA to come lift my Jeep out of the middle of a forest.

- I really haven't heard anything good or bad about Old Man Emu, but people seem to be happy with them, hence the reason I'm giving them a look.

Another concern are what types of shocks to run. Most of these 2.5" lifts are "budget lifts" or "spacer lifts," but I wanna do things the RIGHT way. That means I'm willing to spend a little more to get it. By running a 2.5" lift, can I still run my stock shocks, or is upgrading a recommendation, or a necessity? Remember, while I may spend a lot of time on the asphalt, I wanna go offroad, too.

- Depending on whether upgrading shocks is a recommendation or necessity, what is your reason for calling it such? Is it "recommended" because of a reliability issue, safety concern, or offroad performance concern? If it's a necessity, WHY is it a necessity?

***Keep in mind, I've owned a Jeep for less than five months, so I'm still learning here.***

So, all these things being said, I'm hoping for some straight honest answers from people with EXPERIENCE. If you're just going to tell me, "I read AEV sucks" or "I read this or I heard that," that's not helping me. I wanna hear from the ladies/gents who have actual experience with these particular lifts.

Thanks!

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Old 10-07-2012, 09:35 AM   #2
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Well I have a 2012 Sahara and I am running a 3" TF lift that Mopar allows to keep the warranty valid. I have 17x9.5 xmd 800 misfit wheels with 4.5 back spacing and 35x12.5 Mickey Thompson baja MTZ. So I have been off the road a few times here in SD mostly rocks and I have had no issues pushing 35s. You will need the calibration unit after you put the on. Also the tpms sensors may have to be replaced. I am not running them and the light stays on but it doesn't bother me. As far as your wheels you need to stay with 17s it's the smallest to fit the front brake kits on which you may want later and it's the most economical tire to buy. The 4.5 back spacing keeps you from needing the spacers and gives you about a 2" stick out with stock fenders.

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Old 10-07-2012, 09:41 AM   #3
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AEV 2.5 is my vote. Progressive coils 2/4 door specific coils, that way you shouldn't have to worry about over shooting 2.5"
The key is, you want to stay at 2.5 or under. Having a heavier 4 door helps.
AEV also addresses caster for drivability.
At least gusset the upper C's. if going 35's
Based I my experiences a 16 or even 17" rim.

Everybody who knows me knows how much I love my Rancho shocks. It's a guessing game with the others. The adjustability is huge with these
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:51 AM   #4
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Hey Con Artist, I'm interested in how this thread evolves. I currently just have a leveling kit (it was put on by the PO) and I plan on putting on 35's soon. I will probably be lifting it in a while but I haven't done any research in that area.

As to your question on beefing up your axles, I have done quite a bit of research so I'd like to share my results. It is not specific to brands but just general by parts:
Wow, lots of good info here, I just need some help wraping my head around it. I use my Jeep as a DD as well as light to moderate off-roading and will be putting on 35" tires.

I am sure, as you said, there will be people with other opinions, but this is what I have filtered out from many opinions on the interwebs. For the most part this is how I understand it works.
  1. 33" tires = Stock axle is fine for DD and light to moderate off-roading. For rock crawling, should consider gussets (the armor that goes on the axle "Cs")
  2. 35" tires = Stock axle is fine as DD but for even light off roading should install gussets. For moderate off roading, should install trusses (armor installed to the outside of the axle). For rock crawling, should consider sleeves (tubing that goes inside the axle)
  3. 37" tires and up = DD should at least put on gussets and any off roading should have trusses and sleeves.
As far as the rims go, there are 15" rims that will clear things (brake rotors, etc) but you need to make sure that ones you want will work. As mentioned, 16" or 17" rims would be better.
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:58 AM   #5
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You don't need a Mopar Lift to keep warranty as a previous poster stated. You will have the same coverage with any lift you chose; so don't worry about things there. It will be up to you and your dealer to discuss any warranty issues that arise.

The AEV issues many talk about is crap, regurgitated from others who have done the same. A failed bracket or part can happen with any manufacturer or stock parts. AEV builds quality parts just like many of the others.

For what you are doing, you will be fine with stock axles and 35s. Sure, just like the some with the YJs, your luck may run short with axles, but don't bet on it. You'll likely be fine.

As kjeeper stated look closely at the AEV 2.5 for your needs. I plan to run the AEV 2.5 and 35s and will be on-road 95% of the time as well. Most kits with adjustable arms or relocation brackets address caster. The AEV differs with the pinion angle as it cycles.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:11 AM   #6
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I also run the AEV lift. It is a great quality lift system but anything more than serious rock crawling in Moab might be too much for it. If you need to replace your axles with 60s, the AEV might not be your lift.

It might be difficult finding aluminum wheels not made in China, steel wheels I know nothing about.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Con Artist
od

To make a long story short, if it isn't a lift made in the USA (other than Old Man Emu), I won't even consider it, so you're wasting your time.
Thanks!
Now that is a smart individual, and a true patriot!
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:36 AM   #8
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I plan on doing a lot of the same driving you are talking about. I ended up going with a Zone 4" lift and am very happy with the lift even though it has only been on my Jeep for 2500 miles. With 4" I am going to need drive shafts at some point but that's OK. Zone also has a 3" kit available that you might want to take a look at. I did a lot of reading here before going with Zone and about the only thing I could find negative about the Zone kit is that it did't cost enough. Research I was able to do said they were made in the USA!
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:44 AM   #9
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:33 AM   #10
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Well I have a 2012 Sahara and I am running a 3" TF lift that Mopar allows to keep the warranty valid. I have 17x9.5 xmd 800 misfit wheels with 4.5 back spacing and 35x12.5 Mickey Thompson baja MTZ. So I have been off the road a few times here in SD mostly rocks and I have had no issues pushing 35s. You will need the calibration unit after you put the on. Also the tpms sensors may have to be replaced. I am not running them and the light stays on but it doesn't bother me. As far as your wheels you need to stay with 17s it's the smallest to fit the front brake kits on which you may want later and it's the most economical tire to buy. The 4.5 back spacing keeps you from needing the spacers and gives you about a 2" stick out with stock fenders.
I don't wanna stick out further than the fenders, but just give it a "widened" stance. I wanna be able to clear everything, just as stock, but with 35"s instead.

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Hey Con Artist, I'm interested in how this thread evolves. I currently just have a leveling kit (it was put on by the PO) and I plan on putting on 35's soon. I will probably be lifting it in a while but I haven't done any research in that area.

As to your question on beefing up your axles, I have done quite a bit of research so I'd like to share my results. It is not specific to brands but just general by parts:
Wow, lots of good info here, I just need some help wraping my head around it. I use my Jeep as a DD as well as light to moderate off-roading and will be putting on 35" tires.

I am sure, as you said, there will be people with other opinions, but this is what I have filtered out from many opinions on the interwebs. For the most part this is how I understand it works.
  1. 33" tires = Stock axle is fine for DD and light to moderate off-roading. For rock crawling, should consider gussets (the armor that goes on the axle "Cs")
  2. 35" tires = Stock axle is fine as DD but for even light off roading should install gussets. For moderate off roading, should install trusses (armor installed to the outside of the axle). For rock crawling, should consider sleeves (tubing that goes inside the axle)
  3. 37" tires and up = DD should at least put on gussets and any off roading should have trusses and sleeves.
As far as the rims go, there are 15" rims that will clear things (brake rotors, etc) but you need to make sure that ones you want will work. As mentioned, 16" or 17" rims would be better.
I'm not familiar AT ALL with gussets, trusses, and sleeves. I'm not even sure what I'd consider doing stuff like Green Trails at Rausch Creek, light or moderate? I wouldn't consider it hardcore offroading, though I felt pretty beaten after doing all the rock beds! To make a long story short, I don't ever wanna ride rock beds again, but I'd like to do other types of terrain.

Will gussets and other stuff like that void the warranty? I understand you can't mod things and expect the factory to cover stuff, but I'm just wondering. Some of the dealers even sell AEV-equipped Jeeps, already fitted with 35s and lifts. I believe they also cover them.

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Now that is a smart individual, and a true patriot!
Thanks! Up until last December or so, I wasn't real "hardcore" about not buying foreign products, but that was until I wound up with some music gear built in China. That was the final straw for me. Up until those issues, I "highly preferred" stuff made in America, but now I'm pretty adamant about it, other than with very few products.

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You wanna pass some of that, I'm freakin' starvin...!
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:00 PM   #11
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Here ya go, with extra butter - LOL
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:12 PM   #12
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Just busting your chops.... O:-)
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:12 PM   #13
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I'll not touch on anything here but the issue with shocks, since I went through this precise process. Shocks can go from recommended to required based not on your static ride height (or running ground clearance as Jeep calls it), but rather on the free/extended length of your coil spring.

If your spring extends far enough under articulation that your shocks are what limits your wheel travel that would put shocks in the "required" category for me. Folks run limit straps for this sort of thing to keep the stress off their shocks. Also, if you're not flexing out your suspension it might never be an issue.

If you're not maxing out your stock shocks, than new shocks are more in the recommended category - your stock shocks will give you around 8 3/4" of travel if I have the numbers right...an after market shock can improve that substantially to say nothing of giving you the ability to tune your ride.

Shocks are anywhere from 120 bucks for cheap ones to 2000 dollars for a pricey set...so after all is said and done you end up doing a cost/benefit analysis to figure out if what you get is worth the price of admission.
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Con Artist View Post
Okay, first off, as anyone can see, I've been a member of the forum for quite some time now, and I love it here...but here's the deal.

WTF? I wanna mod, and I come here for the advice of others with experience, and as we all know, it's the internet, so if you talk to 20 people, you get 20 different answers. Next, there are probably more than a few SEPARATE threads dedicated to questions I'm going to ask, but I'm gonna ask'em anyway, because I just get confused when I have to jump from thread to thread hunting down answers...

First, these are the mods I wanna do. I want 35" tires and a 2.5" lift. I don't wanna play with relocating axles, swapping driveshafts, etc. I ain't crawlin' rocks in WV, I'm driving to/from work, and doing some fire trails. The most extreme I'll probably get is riding "Green Trails" at Rausch Creek.

I'm gonna start with the 35" tires...

35" Tire/Wheel Concerns:

1. Am I going to snap/bend axles or damage any other parts because of the added weight/rolling resistance? In other threads, I read about possible issues from running 35" tires and wheels.

2. If the answer to question #1 is "Yes," what do I need to replace/upgrade so I can safely and reliably run 35" tires and wheels?

3. What would be the optimal wheel size I should go with? I wanna clear the brake rotors and get that "pushed out" look for the wheels, but I DO NOT want to run spacers. They're something more to break and simply put, I've never heard ANYTHING good about spacers.

Lift Kit Concerns:

1. First, if it's made in China, don't even suggest it. Right off the bat, I'm pretty sure that's gonna exclude Skyjacker, Rough Country, Rancho, Terra-Flex, ProComp, Rubicon Express, and who knows what else. No offense to people who are using these lifts, and if you've had good luck with them, that's great, but I don't trust ANYTHING made in China.

To make a long story short, if it isn't a lift made in the USA (other than Old Man Emu), I won't even consider it, so you're wasting your time.

Right now, the ones I'm looking at the closest are the 2.5" lifts from Rock Krawler, AEV, and Old Man Emu.

- I've heard of some issues with the Rock Krawler stuff being tough to set up and correctly locate axles, and then there are rubbing issues I've heard of.

- I've heard some say AEV parts are good for the road but are unreliable once things get a little hairy. While 95% of my driving will probably be done on asphalt, there is that 5% left unaccounted for. I wanna be able to enjoy that 5% without having to call AAA to come lift my Jeep out of the middle of a forest.

- I really haven't heard anything good or bad about Old Man Emu, but people seem to be happy with them, hence the reason I'm giving them a look.

Another concern are what types of shocks to run. Most of these 2.5" lifts are "budget lifts" or "spacer lifts," but I wanna do things the RIGHT way. That means I'm willing to spend a little more to get it. By running a 2.5" lift, can I still run my stock shocks, or is upgrading a recommendation, or a necessity? Remember, while I may spend a lot of time on the asphalt, I wanna go offroad, too.

- Depending on whether upgrading shocks is a recommendation or necessity, what is your reason for calling it such? Is it "recommended" because of a reliability issue, safety concern, or offroad performance concern? If it's a necessity, WHY is it a necessity?

***Keep in mind, I've owned a Jeep for less than five months, so I'm still learning here.***

So, all these things being said, I'm hoping for some straight honest answers from people with EXPERIENCE. If you're just going to tell me, "I read AEV sucks" or "I read this or I heard that," that's not helping me. I wanna hear from the ladies/gents who have actual experience with these particular lifts.

Thanks!
You wont bend or break axles with 35's, get that out of your head. Don't worry. Gussets are a good idea and regear is too.

As for lifts, Rock Krawler gets my vote. Made in USA, best on and off road performance, front progressive rate coils and stand behind their stuff. Terflex isn't all made in China, some stuff might be though. I don't like AEV because of their price points and what their lifts consist of. I don't run AEV but don't need to cause I know enough to not even try it. AEV uses control arm drop brackets instead of actual adjustable control arms, also they have a custom bent OEM track bar instead of a stronger adjustable trackbar, they also do not come with front sway bar disconnects.

As for setting up the lift, the people that have problems with Rock Krawler, I haven't heard much, probably did it wrong. If you get properly backspaced wheels, you shouldn't rub. "Relocating axles" like with adj trackbar and control arms is easy, the instructions tell you what measurments they need to be.

I would suggest a full coil lift for performance reasons, they will hold loads better and will actually gain travel. Also skip shock extensions, get aftermarket shocks.

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Old 10-07-2012, 03:22 PM   #15
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Here ya go, with extra butter - LOL
Ugh...that's a little greasy. I think I'll need an extra roll of TP after eating that...

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2000+ posts and you still haven't figured out the search button?



Just busting your chops.... O:-)
OH DAMN! Ya know, I didn't even realize I had that many posts. I've honestly never looked at my post count!

...Another 2000 posts and that'll make me one of the smartest guys on the forum! We all know the higher the post count, the more knowledge one possesses!

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I'll not touch on anything here but the issue with shocks, since I went through this precise process. Shocks can go from recommended to required based not on your static ride height (or running ground clearance as Jeep calls it), but rather on the free/extended length of your coil spring.

If your spring extends far enough under articulation that your shocks are what limits your wheel travel that would put shocks in the "required" category for me. Folks run limit straps for this sort of thing to keep the stress off their shocks. Also, if you're not flexing out your suspension it might never be an issue.

If you're not maxing out your stock shocks, than new shocks are more in the recommended category - your stock shocks will give you around 8 3/4" of travel if I have the numbers right...an after market shock can improve that substantially to say nothing of giving you the ability to tune your ride.

Shocks are anywhere from 120 bucks for cheap ones to 2000 dollars for a pricey set...so after all is said and done you end up doing a cost/benefit analysis to figure out if what you get is worth the price of admission.
I doubt I'll ever get to the point of "flexing to the max," as I really don't have much in the way of interest of having my vehicle nearly sidways, but at the same time, I don't want to take shortcuts where I really shouldn't.

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You wont bend or break axles with 35's, get that out of your head. Don't worry. Gussets are a good idea and regear is too.

As for lifts, Rock Krawler gets my vote. Made in USA, best on and off road performance, front progressive rate coils and stand behind their stuff. Terflex isn't all made in China, some stuff might be though. I don't like AEV because of their price points and what their lifts consist of. I don't run AEV but don't need to cause I know enough to not even try it. AEV uses control arm drop brackets instead of actual adjustable control arms, also they have a custom bent OEM track bar instead of a stronger adjustable trackbar, they also do not come with front sway bar disconnects.

As for setting up the lift, the people that have problems with Rock Krawler, I haven't heard much, probably did it wrong. If you get properly backspaced wheels, you shouldn't rub. "Relocating axles" like with adj trackbar and control arms is easy, the instructions tell you what measurments they need to be.

I would suggest a full coil lift for performance reasons, they will hold loads better and will actually gain travel. Also skip shock extensions, get aftermarket shocks.

-Dan
...Which brings me to yet another question that I overlooked. Given that I have a Rubicon, how's all this adjustable stuff work in harmony with the factory swaybar disconnect?
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:28 PM   #16
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...Which brings me to yet another question that I overlooked. Given that I have a Rubicon, how's all this adjustable stuff work in harmony with the factory swaybar disconnect?
I have that same ?.
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:41 PM   #17
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I have that same ?.
Yeah, this is a bit of a concern I kept thinking to ask but kept forgetting to ask.

BTW, welcome to the forum!
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:44 PM   #18
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Are you referring to adjustable sway bar links?
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:55 PM   #19
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Are you referring to adjustable sway bar links?
Anything to do with relocations of front end parts and stuff that could affect the operation of the electronic disconnect..
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:04 PM   #20
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Yeah, this is a bit of a concern I kept thinking to ask but kept forgetting to ask.

BTW, welcome to the forum!
Thanks. I have been a lurker here forever but I am going to get more active.

I think I read that it works the exact same with an aftermarket lift but I am not sure.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:20 PM   #21
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As for the Rubi sway bar, make sure you get sway bar links long enough to handle the lift. I think the rule of thumb is (read what SilverSport wrote...I'm an idiot!)...I'd need to reread on that though. If the swaybar links are too short than your Rubi sway bar disco motor is going to see more stress...not a good thing. The links can as well. The poor man's technique - take your rear links and move them up front, get new links for the rear. That's what I did.

As far as bits and pieces go, getting an adjustable track bar to center your suspension is a good idea. If you look at your track bar, you can see it connects up top on one side and on the bottom at the other...so, if you make the distance between the top and bottom greater the bottom end is going to shift towards the top end. Think of Trig - imagine a right triangle where the track bar is the Hypotenuse and then take that same triangle and make the vertical leg (distance between top/bottom mounts) longer - either the horizontal leg gets shorter and the Hypotenuse stays the same (which means your suspension is off-center) or the Hypotenuse needs to get longer (your track bar). Different mounting brackets can achieve the same effect with the stipulation that the bracket must match the lift height or it won't do the job properly...it's therefore a less elegant solution. Also, sorry if I dorked up the spelling...not really my thing.

Control Arms and control arm brackets come into play as well, though you may or mar not feel the need to try and restore the stock geometry - people differ on this point. Caster, pinion angle, etc. can be affected when you lift - depending on how much you lift it may or may not bother you. However, since I have not messed about with this I'll bow out here.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:29 PM   #22
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The acceptable range for the front swaybar is -5 to +5 degrees. 0 to -6 degrees for the rear.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:32 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Con Artist View Post
Anything to do with relocations of front end parts and stuff that could affect the operation of the electronic disconnect..
Adjustable sway bar links are made to adjust for the amount of lift. For example, JKS Manufacturing makes adjustable ones for 0-6" of lift. You set them so the front sway bar is in the range of 5 to -5 degrees with 0 being perfectly horizontal. Then use the electronic swaybar disconnect like normal.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:56 PM   #24
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I doubt I'll ever get to the point of "flexing to the max," as I really don't have much in the way of interest of having my vehicle nearly sidways
You don't have to have your Jeep sideways to max out your flex.

You've been a member for 2 years with 2000 posts and have only had a jeep for 5 months?

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Old 10-07-2012, 07:27 PM   #25
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If I may be so bold...

I think you have a decision making issue, more than a mod issue. After 2 years and 2,000 posts, if you can't make a decision without the input of the internet, you're probably doomed before you even get started.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:36 PM   #26
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If I may be so bold...

I think you have a decision making issue, more than a mod issue. After 2 years and 2,000 posts, if you can't make a decision without the input of the internet, you're probably doomed before you even get started.
I could not agree more with ^

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Old 10-07-2012, 10:23 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by PhotoWrangler View Post
If I may be so bold...

I think you have a decision making issue, more than a mod issue. After 2 years and 2,000 posts, if you can't make a decision without the input of the internet, you're probably doomed before you even get started.
I couldn't disagree more. Everybody and their brother is hawking parts for Jeeps as if they are absolutely necessary. Not all lifts are created equal; some brands are known for sagging springs. Not all control arms are created equal and feature cheap bushings. And so on. With a forum like this, the OP can take notes and ask questions as to "what do I really need", "what works and what doesn't", etc. Eliminates the trial and error.

Don't know about you but I hate throwing good money after bad. Since I got back into Jeeps I have taken tons of notes from the members on here who are suspension knowledgeable. My research paid off when it came time to lift. One shot, one kill. Without the internet or this forum a lot of guesswork would have been involved.

Props to the OP for asking!
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:29 PM   #28
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I couldn't disagree more. Everybody and their brother is hawking parts for Jeeps as if they are absolutely necessary. Not all lifts are created equal; some brands are known for sagging springs. Not all control arms are created equal and feature cheap bushings. And so on. With a forum like this, the OP can take notes and ask questions as to "what do I really need", "what works and what doesn't", etc. Eliminates the trial and error.

Don't know about you but I hate throwing good money after bad. Since I got back into Jeeps I have taken tons of notes from the members on here who are suspension knowledgeable. My research paid off when it came time to lift. One shot, one kill. Without the internet or this forum a lot of guesswork would have been involved.

Props to the OP for asking!

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Old 10-07-2012, 10:43 PM   #29
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You don't have to have your Jeep sideways to max out your flex.

You've been a member for 2 years with 2000 posts and have only had a jeep for 5 months?
Too funny and to the point.......
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:03 AM   #30
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Well I have a 2012 Sahara and I am running a 3" TF lift that Mopar allows to keep the warranty valid. I have 17x9.5 xmd 800 misfit wheels with 4.5 back spacing and 35x12.5 Mickey Thompson baja MTZ. So I have been off the road a few times here in SD mostly rocks and I have had no issues pushing 35s. You will need the calibration unit after you put the on. Also the tpms sensors may have to be replaced. I am not running them and the light stays on but it doesn't bother me. As far as your wheels you need to stay with 17s it's the smallest to fit the front brake kits on which you may want later and it's the most economical tire to buy. The 4.5 back spacing keeps you from needing the spacers and gives you about a 2" stick out with stock fenders.
1. Warranty - Many do certain mods because 'it doesn't void the warranty'. Bottom line is this: If it happens off road, it's not covered under warranty. If it's on road, well, it's not going to break anyway. The 'warranty' card is just something the dealer tries to play to get you to pay double or triple for the stuff they are selling.

2. The part about 17's is completely wrong. 15" - 18"+ is fine. 15's are better for wheeling and tires are less expensive. I just bought 35's with 15" wheels. Tires were $100 less for the exact same tire in a 15" than a 17". The larger the rim, more expensive tires. Many claim that larger rims will give you better 'on road' ride.

Only problem with a 15" is you have to have less backspacing -- 3.75" vs. 4.5". There will also be less selection of wheels. However, if you plan on wearing out the tires and replacing them in a few years, you save $400 each time.

Lifts -- I have the RK 2.5" max travel. I have only had my Jeep for a year, but wheel with people that have had Jeeps for 20+ years. I will never run a lift that isn't an RK lift. They make top notch stuff and their warranty replacement is exceptional.

There are many other great lift manufacturers. Teraflex would be my second choice. AEV is overpriced and use questionable technology. Not that it would matter a lot if you're mostly driving on pavement with some light wheeling.

Shocks -- probably equally important to lift selection considering mostly on road use. I have Bilstein 5100's and love how they handle. You could definitely spend more for Fox or King shocks, but those you would only see much of a benefit off road.

If you have the means, try to get a ride from people that have similar setups to what you want. That's the only real way to tell what you will prefer.

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