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Old 01-04-2013, 07:21 PM   #1
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Bought my first Jeep... and its bagged?! Need suspension and lift help!

First time poster here and need some help. So I had been saving for a new ride and really wanted a wrangler. Ended up finding a '98 white/tan top TJ sahara in pristine condition with only 54,XXX miles. Old man owned and obviously well taken care of. Doubt he did any 4x4'ing in it. Exterior and interior is immaculate. One thing, it had an "air ride" or basically, air bags. Pretty gangster (in a bad way). But considering it was in such good condition I picked it up anyway, assuming it was bolt on. Later found out they had welded mounts on top of the existing mounts. Anyway, I found a shop that could cut the mounts off and install a lift. Now I just need to pick out my lift and suspension. I have attached some pictures, hoping you guys can help me pick out everything I need which I assume is everything).

I would like a 4" lift and am planning on running 32-33" tires after I put on the lift. He said the current shocks are blown out and I'm not surprised, the system leaks so every morning its dumped all the way, so the shocks are bottomed out. I don't plan to do much crawling and probably just some occasional mudding and goofing around. It is my daily driver rig so my main concern is ride quality, I want the smoothest ride possible. I mainly bought it to take it as a daily driver and to take it snowboarding and hunting. Love this thing, but can't wait to have real suspension! I'm willing to spend up to $1,400 on the kit, if that means it will ride nice. I've read so much on stiff and rough lift kits, I definitely don't want that.

I'd appreciate all the help I can get. Thank you.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:08 PM   #2
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1st off welcome to the world of Jeeping and to the forum.

I am pretty fond of the BDS lift that I have. I read and researched a ton before I found my BDS locally.

No particular order:
BDS
Old Man Emu (OME)
Zone
Claytons
Teraflex
Rubicon Express
all seem to be good to go. There is a great thread at the top of this page regarding lifts and reviews.

with a 4 inch lift you should plan on a SYE to help alleviate any vibe issues...

I can't help you with the air lift things...sorry bout that...

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Old 01-04-2013, 09:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by GlocksandJeeps View Post
Anyway, I found a shop that could cut the mounts off and install a lift.
have you discussed with them what their plan is? weld new mounts on? what's the plan with for bumpstops (jounce bumper, extensions, pad, cup, etc) and spring perches?

personally, I think this is a good reason to start from scratch, and build some kick arse geometry....highline fenders, nearly flat belly, mid arms & custom control arm brackets, outboard shock mounts, upper triangulated rear, 12-13" travel...the works. Won't be cheap or easy tho...but you'd have the best riding & performing rig around.

Here's some reading material...
'rock crawling go-cart' or something - JeepForum.com
Yellow, Red, Long and Soft.... - JeepForum.com
Another Lcg, Hiline hood, Mid arms - JeepForum.com
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:10 PM   #4
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for shocks, I love my Ranchos good ride, but still good off road.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:26 PM   #5
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X2 on Ranchos, but only the 9000s. 5000s are too stiff of a ride.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NC Bear View Post
1st off welcome to the world of Jeeping and to the forum.

I am pretty fond of the BDS lift that I have. I read and researched a ton before I found my BDS locally.

No particular order:
BDS
Old Man Emu (OME)
Zone
Claytons
Teraflex
Rubicon Express
all seem to be good to go. There is a great thread at the top of this page regarding lifts and reviews.

with a 4 inch lift you should plan on a SYE to help alleviate any vibe issues...

I can't help you with the air lift things...sorry bout that...
Thank you, I appreciate it. I have heard a lot of great things about OME but I don't see a 4" kit for my make. Is there any that stands out from the rest, or are they all essentially the same once you get to a certain point?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UnlimitedLJ04 View Post
have you discussed with them what their plan is? weld new mounts on? what's the plan with for bumpstops (jounce bumper, extensions, pad, cup, etc) and spring perches?

personally, I think this is a good reason to start from scratch, and build some kick arse geometry....highline fenders, nearly flat belly, mid arms & custom control arm brackets, outboard shock mounts, upper triangulated rear, 12-13" travel...the works. Won't be cheap or easy tho...but you'd have the best riding & performing rig around.

Here's some reading material...
'rock crawling go-cart' or something - JeepForum.com
Yellow, Red, Long and Soft.... - JeepForum.com
Another Lcg, Hiline hood, Mid arms - JeepForum.com
He said all the original mounts are there, just has to cut off the bag mounts. The fronts need a little re-working on the top mount but he said it won't be a problem. He also mentioned on the front he will have to run the bumpstops on the opposite end of where they usually are (can't remember if they are normally on the top or bottom), which also said won't be a problem either. Does that sound right? I'm totally new to the whole jeep thing.

While I would love to start from scratch and do some of those awesome mods, they look super cool. I just don't have the money or talent for that. I don't do any custom fab personally so I can't afford to pay someone to do it. And like I said, I'm not really a crawler or anything so I wouldn't even use most of those mods. My main concern is getting this back to real suspension, lifting it, and getting some beefier tires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tallzdatank View Post
for shocks, I love my Ranchos good ride, but still good off road.
Quote:
Originally Posted by doclouie View Post
X2 on Ranchos, but only the 9000s. 5000s are too stiff of a ride.
Are Rancho's better than OME or any other well known shock company? I see so many people saying OME shocks are the best for daily driver comfort, while still being able to hold up off road. I assume thats all subjective though. If I did go Rancho, would I be better off going with an all Rancho kit? Or can you sort of do a hybrid thing and run rancho shocks and then a different brand lift kit?

I know I have a massive amount of questions, but I need a massive amount of help lol. Well not massive, but there is a lot that I don't know. I keep reading but without a stock TJ to look at its hard for me to know what I need.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:27 AM   #7
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look at the Zone 4.25 (includes a body lift) or the BDS. I really think BDS makes the Zone Kits. I am very happy with my BDS. It came complete with everything I needed for the lift to include front disconnects.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:56 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GlocksandJeeps View Post
Thank you, I appreciate it. I have heard a lot of great things about OME but I don't see a 4" kit for my make. Is there any that stands out from the rest, or are they all essentially the same once you get to a certain point?
OME sells springs and shocks in 2" and 4". You build around those, adding the other components necessary from other manufacturers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlocksandJeeps View Post
He said all the original mounts are there, just has to cut off the bag mounts. The fronts need a little re-working on the top mount but he said it won't be a problem. He also mentioned on the front he will have to run the bumpstops on the opposite end of where they usually are (can't remember if they are normally on the top or bottom), which also said won't be a problem either. Does that sound right? I'm totally new to the whole jeep thing.
not all that sounds right...especially the part about running bumpstops on the other end in front. post some detailed pictures, and get a more detailed plan and communicate that here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlocksandJeeps View Post
My main concern is getting this back to real suspension, lifting it, and getting some beefier tires.
in the process you should want something that's done right and works. thats where a good plan comes into play....and you'll need to do some learning to get there. what you've got now is working fine for now, so don't be in a hurry and end up with a mess you have to fix later.

Here's some reading material on how suspensions work, both lifted and stock.
Correct bumpstop length and cycling you suspension to work out the issues
Bumpstop and shock length - work out the fuzzy points
Adjustable track bar clearance issues
Maximizing travel with longer shocks on a low lift
setting caster with lift

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlocksandJeeps View Post
Are Rancho's better than OME or any other well known shock company? I see so many people saying OME shocks are the best for daily driver comfort, while still being able to hold up off road. I assume thats all subjective though.
ride quality itself is subjective. OME, Rancho 9000xl, Bilstein 5100 series and Fox are a few shocks most people seem to like.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:30 AM   #9
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My 2" OME coils with the adjustable Rancho 9000's is extremely smooth for DD.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:46 AM   #10
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Why would the po put an air suspension on it?
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:29 PM   #11
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Why would the po put an air suspension on it?
Maybe he was towing something a little heavier then he should have and was tired of looking at the sky on the freeway? That's the best guess I can come up with.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:00 PM   #12
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Maybe he was towing something a little heavier then he should have and was tired of looking at the sky on the freeway? That's the best guess I can come up with.
Guess I need to call my Kenworth dealer and throw a fit about the bags on the rig and their inability to tow heavy loads...
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by NC Bear View Post
look at the Zone 4.25 (includes a body lift) or the BDS. I really think BDS makes the Zone Kits. I am very happy with my BDS. It came complete with everything I needed for the lift to include front disconnects.
A friend of mine had a lot of negative things to say about body lifts. He basically said avoid it at all costs and says it causes a lot of stress on the body and frame. I thought about doing a 2" lift with a 1.25" body lift to stuff the 33s but after his comments I reconsidered and decided just a plain ol 4" would be best.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnlimitedLJ04 View Post
OME sells springs and shocks in 2" and 4". You build around those, adding the other components necessary from other manufacturers.


not all that sounds right...especially the part about running bumpstops on the other end in front. post some detailed pictures, and get a more detailed plan and communicate that here.


in the process you should want something that's done right and works. thats where a good plan comes into play....and you'll need to do some learning to get there. what you've got now is working fine for now, so don't be in a hurry and end up with a mess you have to fix later.

Here's some reading material on how suspensions work, both lifted and stock.
Correct bumpstop length and cycling you suspension to work out the issues
Bumpstop and shock length - work out the fuzzy points
Adjustable track bar clearance issues
Maximizing travel with longer shocks on a low lift
setting caster with lift



ride quality itself is subjective. OME, Rancho 9000xl, Bilstein 5100 series and Fox are a few shocks most people seem to like.
I completely agree on the taking my time and doing it right part. Thats my first concern, is getting this thing done right so its not janky set up. I want it as perfect and OEM as possible. I'm gonna get a second quote from someone else and see what their plan is on how to get it back to normal. Maybe they won't want to run the bump stops upside down. I personally thought that was a bit sketchy, but he seemed to believe it wouldn't make a difference, and my lack of knowledge doesn't help much on that situation.

As far as the plan, he said everything would install and mount normal, the only issue being the bump stop upside down on the fronts. That is because the front top mount being hacked into to retrofit the bags. He would take a steel plate and fab a new mount for the coils to mount up back to normal.
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Originally Posted by Wattapunk View Post
My 2" OME coils with the adjustable Rancho 9000's is extremely smooth for DD.
What size tire can you run with that setup without any rubbing? Also, can you run those shocks with a 4" lift?
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Why would the po put an air suspension on it?
I was told it was for ride quality as an everyday driver. The po didn't install it, he had it for only 6 months and sold it cause he bought a brand new FJ. I'm assuming the previous po did it. I still can't figure out for the life of me why someone would do it, the ride quality doesn't seem that good in my opinion. When I run it at 40 psi it does have a slower bounce, but overall it seems like someone wasted a lot of money to install this thing. It cold be for the towing, but it doesn't even have a hitch so I doubt that. Like I said, I was told it was done for a better DD ride quality, but either way, the guy was a doofus. haha.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:38 PM   #14
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Here is the top of the front cap, that I mentioned was fitted for the bags.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:42 PM   #15
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Maybe he was going for this look lol



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Old 01-05-2013, 03:59 PM   #16
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haha, I often wonder.. dear god the horror. I still can't believe one would ruin such a perfectly good and clean TJ by putting bags on it. But at the same time I still question if I made a good decision on buying it and taking this thing on. It was just too clean and low milage to pass up!

Luckily it doesn't look like that though. Here is how she sits right now...
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:09 PM   #17
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Good looking Sahara. I'm sure you'll whip it back into shape in no time.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:17 PM   #18
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Thank you.

So I think I've decided on the Rancho 9000XL, they seem like the best way for me to go since they are adjustable. That way I can adjust it to be really soft for normal dd stuff, but if I decide to go off road I can stiffen it to my desired preference. I would probably end up getting the wireless controller since it would be so awesome. Does anyone have any experience with how soft these things can go?

I do still have the OME in mind cause everyone seems to say they are great for dd rigs.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:23 PM   #19
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I'm in the same boat, have to replace my old pro comp shocks and was going to go with the ranchos also but heard even on the lowest setting they are still stiff. I'm either going those or bilstiens
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
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A friend of mine had a lot of negative things to say about body lifts. He basically said avoid it at all costs and says it causes a lot of stress on the body and frame. I thought about doing a 2" lift with a 1.25" body lift to stuff the 33s but after his comments I reconsidered and decided just a plain ol 4" would be best.

Absolutely nothing wrong with a 1"-1.5" body lift. A lot of high end manufacturers like Savvy make high clearance skids that require a body lift. A small body lift doesn't compromise any part of the body or frame and can give you a lot more flexibility to do a tummy tuck or raise the gas tank.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:35 PM   #21
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I'm in the same boat, have to replace my old pro comp shocks and was going to go with the ranchos also but heard even on the lowest setting they are still stiff. I'm either going those or bilstiens
Really? That bums me out. The bilsteins look nice too and a bit cheaper, but the adjustability of the Ranchos really caught my eye. But maybe thats a gimmick designed to do just that haha.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:27 PM   #22
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Here is the top of the front cap, that I mentioned was fitted for the bags.
the entire bumpstop tower and the center spring perch support has been cut off.

it's supposed to look like this:

from: Jeep 3 Inch Budget Lift Installation

You'll need to fabricate a new tower and perch support, and weld them in place. The tower will need to be threaded at the bottom. You'll buy a new stock jounce bumper and bumpstop cup and attach those via coarse thread bolt.

Here's an example I found with google:


When you install a lift, you'll drill and tap the spring pad on the bottom to attach the bumpstop extensions.

Now, post pictures of how bad the spring perch on the bottom is screwed up, and we'll see what needs done there. It may be easiest to cut them off and weld new ones on.

Like I said, you're basically starting over.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:51 PM   #23
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the entire bumpstop tower and the center spring perch support has been cut off.

it's supposed to look like this:

from: Jeep 3 Inch Budget Lift Installation

You'll need to fabricate a new tower and perch support, and weld them in place. The tower will need to be threaded at the bottom. You'll buy a new stock jounce bumper and bumpstop cup and attach those via coarse thread bolt.

Here's an example I found with google:


When you install a lift, you'll drill and tap the spring pad on the bottom to attach the bumpstop extensions.

Now, post pictures of how bad the spring perch on the bottom is screwed up, and we'll see what needs done there. It may be easiest to cut them off and weld new ones on.

Like I said, you're basically starting over.
Wow, thank you much for the help. Question, the bump stop won't come in the lift kit? I assumed it would but wasn't sure.

Here is the bottom perch on the front.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:53 PM   #24
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Here is the rear top and bottom.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:54 PM   #25
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for some reason these get all flipped around when I upload them, sorry about that, they don't look like that on my computer.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:21 PM   #26
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Nice looking Sahara. Not sure if anyone else covered this, but being the very most important thing to me...make damn sure the shop you take it to is a 4x4/Jeep specialist shop. Not every shop is the right shop to take it to. Just because they have mechanics and fab workers doesn't mean they know the rights and wrongs about Jeep and 4x4 suspensions. (My small town is full of shops that "work" on cars but I wouldn't take my leaf blower to them. But I do have one Jeep/4x4 shop locally and another within 45 mins.) Like some of the others said, learn as much as you can and take it to several shops for quotes.
As for a lift kit...I started with (and currently run) a 2" BB Teraflex kit just to fit my 31x10.5 tires but plan on upgrading to a 2" Old Man Emu light load kit after I've finished paying it off.
Good luck and welcome to the forum...keep us updated...and remember no question is a dumb question.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:31 PM   #27
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It dont look that bad. It must ride like a dream. Only thing offroading prob would suck
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:41 PM   #28
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Question, the bump stop won't come in the lift kit? I assumed it would but wasn't sure.
some kits include bumpstop extensions, most do not. bumpstop extensions are part #4 of a 4 part system. you're missing the other 3 parts.

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Here is the rear top and bottom.
basically the spring perches and bumpstops have been hacked up - both front and rear, top and bottom.

the front uppers can be repaired with some skilled work, as shown above. But you're better off cutting the rest off and totally replacing them.

Like I said in the beginning, you're starting over. You need to get back to bare frame and bare axle tube and weld all new perches on. It's the same type of work as you'd do for a full axle swap front and rear.

The fabrication necessary is very similar to those build threads I linked in the beginning.

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Originally Posted by GlocksandJeeps View Post
While I would love to start from scratch and do some of those awesome mods, they look super cool. I just don't have the money or talent for that. I don't do any custom fab personally so I can't afford to pay someone to do it. And like I said, I'm not really a crawler or anything so I wouldn't even use most of those mods. My main concern is getting this back to real suspension, lifting it, and getting some beefier tires.
Now, I'll respond to this, because I think you're starting to get a feel for the work needed. By the time you weld all these spring perches on and get the fab work done to bring this close to stock, you'll literally be half way to a suspension like Imped's build, or CB3's rig done by mudb8.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:12 PM   #29
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First off I wish you lived close to me so I could take a ride in that with the bags. Personally I think it's kinda cool. I spose that has to do with working on trucks Does it have them on all 4 corners? How high will it go if you pump them up? Maybe the po was looking for like an air powered lift kit kinda like on a land rover. Enjoy your new toy they are awesome.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:24 AM   #30
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Really? That bums me out. The bilsteins look nice too and a bit cheaper, but the adjustability of the Ranchos really caught my eye. But maybe thats a gimmick designed to do just that haha.
I have Rancho 9000's on my TJ and run them on the lowest setting and they ride like a dream, I run 35s on roughly 3" of lift, with a cut body and other goodies, its my DD as well. I like my Rancho 9000XL shocks. but why not leave the bags and run some really nice shocks? people use bags to off road. and they perform well, just find a shop or better yet someone who knows 4x4s in your area and swap your jeep to a long arm and run a bit taller bags, you already have the expensive stuff. if you going to swap in jeep coils and spend all the money to ditch the bags why not make the bags work well for off road and give you a good ride on road. Read this link, one of the threads on Pirate4x4 I found about bags on Jeeps and other trucks and how much people like them, tells about why they are like off road, but complains about upfront price. the PO already paid the up front price now u can build it.


air bag suspension - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum


-you need to read about all the different type of suspensions and find out what works for you. I personally spent the money, and time building a Long Arm(LA) suspension with the other goodies that have been already mentioned(Tummy tuck, high line,). You should read about all the different options b4 you start dumping money into your jeep. For instance you can buy a AEV high line fender kit for about $2000 to give you roughly 3.5" of addition room for bigger tires, or you could read up on the Jeep Forums and convert your jeep fenders and hood to a high line for maybe $50 in bolts and nuts and some more time working on your jeep.

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