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Old 01-07-2013, 09:56 PM   #1
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New TJ Owner who needs some advice...

Hi all,

My name is Dan and I just recently purchased a 2003 Sahara Wrangler. The car has been fun, but it comes with a bit of backstory.

Basically, before the Wrangler I owned a BRZ. For one reason or another (moving, downsizing) I was forced to get rid of the car rather quickly and fairly unexpectedly. I had been looking at Wranglers for a while and was planning on purchasing an LJ, but the sudden change in my life forced me out of the BRZ and I had to find a car quickly. Looked around, couldn't find any clean LJ's locally, and wound up with the 2003 Sahara simply based on it being the cleanest I could find (underneath was clean/recently rust coated, low mileage) with a hardtop, a D44, and an automatic (I know the 4-speed sucks, but I wanted away from a manual for my newest DD).



Now, since buying the Jeep I've learned I probably should have bought a stock one, but I didn't and now I feel like I've made a huge mistake. The one I bought has the following parts:

1) 4" Skyjacker lift, including drop pitman arm, LCA's (with joints at the ends at least), transfer case drop, etc
2) 33" BFG a/t's
3) Aftermarket flood lights

I also did my own first mod and installed a Trail Gear front bumper. Really liking it, though I still have to extend the factory fog harnesses.

This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

Now, the tires are almost new and the lights are fine, and very cleanly installed, but the lift is bugging me. Personally, I think it rides decently (it's no stocker but...), but I have no experience with lifted Jeeps. The bigger issue is that I have some vibes at ~60+ that feel like they're coming from the rear, which as I understand it is like drivetrain related since I just rebalanced the tires. It also exhibits slight bump steer (I think), but I'm not sure if replacing the pitman arm would help that.

Now, the driveline vibes leave me with a few options that I can see:

1) Install an SYE and CV driveshaft. This has the benefit of removing the t-case drop, but it would require adjustable UCA's (and probably LCA's) and I don't think I'm comfortable doing the install of the SYE myself, though I could handle the control arms. Parts + labor would likely be in the $900-$1200 range from what I gather. That said, I'm stuck with the Skyjacker lift, and I'm not sure just how terrible that is.

2) Install a lower complete lift kit (looking at the DPG Ultimate kit). This has the advantages of removing the t-case drop, a lower CoG, and better quality parts (including adj trackbars/discos!) but the install, while doable, isn't going to be fun since I would be selling the Skyjacker lift to a friend and cannibalizing the stock parts I would need off his Jeep. Can a suspension swap from one Jeep to another be done in a weekend? Total cost is ~$900-$1200 doing the work myself and "selling" my lift to my friend.

3) I'm not sure this is a viable option, but with budget in mind, maybe it makes sense to just lower the lift (aka buy OME coils but keep the Skyjacker hydros, etc that's on it)? Seems economical and by doing so I could move to 2.5" coils and a 1.25" BL/1" MML without having to swap the ENTIRE suspension. What parts should I change if I were to go this route? Springs/pitman arm/???.


I believe the trackbars are both stock, have not looked to see if there are any brackets but the axles seem centered and the car drives straight and well otherwise. I can afford any of the options, but am wanting to save money if I can while still getting the best bang for my buck. I do want to eventually do a tummy tuck on the Jeep and get rid of the t-case drop, but don't want it any higher than the 4" suspension lift that's on it now, which makes options 2 and 3 much more enticing since I would gain the space to do so.

Thoughts? I didn't buy myself into a Jeep that's unfixable did I? I just want no vibes and the most usuable setup possible on a budget given what I'm working with. I can provide pictures of anything if it would help.

Unrelated: Is it normal for a lifted Jeep on 33's to get ~12-13mpg? I've been calculating with a rough correction factor since I don't think the speedo is calibrated but it still seems really low to me. I was expecting ~15mpg. How much is a speedo gear to correct and what # of teeth should it have?

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Old 01-07-2013, 10:37 PM   #2
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Congrats on your new jeep!

You obviously have some decent knowledge of how suspensions work and I'm sure you probably already have your mind made up on your choices.

I personally like the Sye option as it gives clearance and reduces driveline vibe. The lift in my opinion you could live with and by purchasing quick disconnects you get the flex(I'm not very knowledgable on Skyjacker lifts).

On MPG my Jeep sucks! Also, that last quarter tank disappears!!
Good luck and have fun. Half the fun of owning a jeep is exactly this, thinking of all the options, researching them, pulling the trigger, installing, and watching it work. Cheers

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Old 01-07-2013, 10:56 PM   #3
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first, I think you are getting at least 15 mpg. I purchased a 26 tooth gear for my tranny and am only about 3mph off. I have a 4" suspension lift and run 33's. The jeep will ride a bit rough compared to most vehicles,it's something we all come to live with. Even stock they ride rough,but the higher you go, the rougher the ride. From your description,it sounds like nothing is wrong with your rig. I think a slip yoke eliminator might help a bit, but not worth the $$$. Happy wheeling!
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:08 AM   #4
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1. remove the drop pitman arm and install a stock unit. this will correct your bumpsteer
2. keep your current suspension set up. install an sye/cv shaft along with adjustable upper control arms. remove the tcase drop.
3. the issues you are experiencing are easily corrected. just make sure you purchase quality parts. Look into Savvy control arms and JB Conversions sye
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:52 AM   #5
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Well I just wrote a long response and bumped the back button on my mouse, erasing it all.

So as a shorter re-write, all your options sound good and viable, depending on how much money and time you want to spend. Drop pitman arm should most likely be replaced with a stocker, it should improve your bump steer. If you want to take a picture of your suspension from the front and post it here that would help verify.

Speedo gears are pretty easy to replace, here's a chart: TJ speedo gear chart : Raingler.com

Congrats on the jeep!

Oh and for MPG my 03 with 33's and 3" gets just under 15, so you're not far off. Might be worth checking fluids, plugs, etc. since you just picked it up.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:11 AM   #6
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IMO, why throw more money into a low end lift that already gets mixed reviews along with the driveline vibes you are trying to fix. If you are trying to stay within budget, fix the vibes, and get an better overall ride quality, I would go keep it simple and go with the 3rd option. OME 2.5" coils /1.25BL and an MML. You wouldn't need a SYE, pitman arm, driveshaft, control arms,etc... Just sell the kit to your buddy and get his stock parts. You will need to get the right length shocks if you decide to go this route unless you get the complete kit w/shocks. Good shocks will improve your ride greatly vs. the crappy Hydros you have now. Check out OME, Bilsteins, or adjustable Ranchos 9000.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:58 AM   #7
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IMHO....
step 1: install SYE/CV shaft & UCA's, remove front track bar and drop pitman arm, replace with stock pitman arm and Currie TJS or TJJ model front track bar.
step 2: start identifying what suspension components you want to replace. LCA's, rear track bar, shocks, springs, etc. Put together a plan on priority of replacement and start saving money to do it.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wattapunk View Post
IMO, why throw more money into a low end lift that already gets mixed reviews along with the driveline vibes you are trying to fix. If you are trying to stay within budget, fix the vibes, and get an better overall ride quality, I would go keep it simple and go with the 3rd option. OME 2.5" coils /1.25BL and an MML. You wouldn't need a SYE, pitman arm, driveshaft, control arms,etc... Just sell the kit to your buddy and get his stock parts. You will need to get the right length shocks if you decide to go this route unless you get the complete kit w/shocks. Good shocks will improve your ride greatly vs. the crappy Hydros you have now. Check out OME, Bilsteins, or adjustable Ranchos 9000.
This is, more and more, looking like the option I'm going to pursue. Something just bugs me about having everything not 100% and with every other car I've done, I did it right the first time and had no regrets, which is why I feel so dumb for buying this without doing more homework. Looks like a DPG Ultimate kit may be in my near future!

I'll try and post pictures of the suspension tomorrow. Ordered a stock pitman arm and will be renting a tool. I've heard horror stories, so hopefully it's not so bad. Still on the hunt for a cheap 32 tooth speedo gear.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:40 PM   #9
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Replacing Pitman arm isn't too bad, i just did mine the other day, same thing replaced drop with stock.

Day before, spray with pb blaster or liquid wrench. Next day, borrow puller from AutoZone and put some pressure on it, let it sit (i left mine overnight because not in rush). Came back in morning, put little bit of heat on it from propane torch. Couple light whacks with hammer, and crank on puller, came right off.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:23 PM   #10
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Ordered the DPG Ultimate kit today! Can't wait to get it in and get the issues corrected with this lift. Lower CoG will be nice too, and the next mod will be a tummy tuck.

That said, here's a picture of the suspension as requested. Tracbar has had another hole drilled in the mounting flange thing to center the axle. Will that cause any problems during the install of the JKS tracbars? Also, anything look abnormal except the drop pitman arm?




Also, I'm wondering if these control arms are worth using and am hoping someone may be able to ID them. Any thoughts? Should I go back to stock LCA's with the OME lift?








Thanks all!
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:41 PM   #11
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yeah,Replacing Pitman arm isn't bad, did mine the other day, same thing replaced drop with stock
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:29 PM   #12
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Not that too many care (I don't think) but lookie what showed up today:




Just a few boxes. Going to be a longggg install.


Also bought some wheels to fix the rub I was having at full lock with the stockers. MB72's, 15x8 with 3.75" backspacing. Not thrilled that they're polished, but for $69/wheel I can't complain too much. Nothing some paint next summer won't fix.

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Old 01-16-2013, 08:30 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mr. Sociable View Post
Ordered the DPG Ultimate kit today! Can't wait to get it in and get the issues corrected with this lift. Lower CoG will be nice too, and the next mod will be a tummy tuck.

That said, here's a picture of the suspension as requested. Tracbar has had another hole drilled in the mounting flange thing to center the axle. Will that cause any problems during the install of the JKS tracbars? Also, anything look abnormal except the drop pitman arm?




Also, I'm wondering if these control arms are worth using and am hoping someone may be able to ID them. Any thoughts? Should I go back to stock LCA's with the OME lift?








Thanks all!
That's a Johhny joint on one end for sure, cant see the other end too well but that one end is very worth saving. Also, what's a BRZ?
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:19 AM   #14
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Subaru sport coupe.
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'05 LJ
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:04 AM   #15
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Thanks.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:47 PM   #16
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Yeah OK, wow.

The DPG Ultimate kit seriously rides 3256598670x better than the Skyjacker lift it had before. It's like a whole new jeep. Everything just feels...tight again and that's a very, very good thing.




Still tuning bumpstop length, does that look like a good enough starting point? Off to search more...
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:51 PM   #17
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No longer need help (can a mod change the title?) but did do some wheeling today...

My suspension works.













All for:





Fun day! First time ever really wheeling a rig decently hard. Slaughterhouse Gulch here in CO. Pics make it seem more tame than it was, the angles of the D-Rings give a bit better perspective.
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:42 PM   #18
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Nice payoff (aside from the satisfaction of doing the job yourself).

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