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Old 10-30-2019, 11:27 AM
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Lifting and Cross Country Trips

Hey y'all,

I recently got my first ever Wrangler and am looking into lifting it. I'm not interested in anything aggressive (I read 2.5 inches maintains ride quality) BUT I am worried about the following:

-Is that enough to be a good offroad vehicle?
-How do I figure out what size tires I would need/want?

and most importantly: how will a lift affect my mpg. I am a student and drive from Texas to Clemson, SC and back every year. The drive is right around 1,000 miles. Would adding a lift be too hard on the car over long distances?

Thanks y'all
~T

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Old 10-30-2019, 11:47 AM   #2
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Most 2.5” lifts will allow you to put up to a 35” diameter tire on the Jeep without interference as long as you use wheels with the proper backspace or add wheel spacers/adapters. Whether or not that is enough lift for off-roading depends on what type of off-roading you will be doing, but most find it sufficient. The Jeep is very capable off-road in its stock form.

Going to a 35” tire will affect your fuel mileage. I dropped from about 20 MPG highway to about 17 MPG highway with stock 3.21 gearing. I then went to 4.88 gearing, which increased my around town acceleration remarkably, but dropped me to about 15 MPG highway. Regearing isn’t cheap, but it makes a huge difference. Had I gone with 4.56 gears (mine is an automatic) I don’t think I would have taken quite as big a hit on my fuel mileage.

Lift kits range greatly in price. If you want to maintain good on road handling, don’t go cheap. Get a quality lift kit with adjustable control arms and/or geometry correction brackets.

Hope this info is helpful.


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Old 10-30-2019, 12:17 PM   #3
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Lifting is usually about fitting larger tires. Lifting alone will slight decrease mpg, but larger tires will have a much larger affect on mpg. Another factor in this is what gear ratio do you have/ JK / JKUs come with at least three different gear ratios as possibilities. A JK / JKU with the base 3.21 gears will not handle larger tires as well as one with 3.73 or even 4.10 gears.
Most 2.5" lifts result in 3" or more of lift. And, as mentioned, a typical 2.5" lift can allow up to 35" tires, which is about as big as you can go without fairly serious additional mods and expense.
That said, we have driven our lifted JKU from Maryland to Utah and back three different times. Each time it had some sort of lift. The second and third trips it had 37" tires and still handled the drive fine. If your lifted Jeep doesn't drive well enough to drive it happily across the country then either something is wrong or you did not build it with that in mind. It should not be a problem to drive a lifted Jeep across the country.
As mentioned, don't buy the cheapest lift you can get, unless that is what you want. The more you lift, the more expensive it will be to do right. There are cheaper lifts that do not lift as much and that is how they get away with being cheaper. Other cheap lifts just don't include all the parts you will want to properly lift your Jeep. When you lift, steering geometry changes. The more you lift, the more it changes. At some point, you need to address those changes, as they will start to negatively affect how it drives / steers. The most common aspect you have to address is caster, and you can typically do that with either geometry brackets or longer / adjustable lower front control arms. The brackets will result in a better driving Jeep at the expense of a small price in ground clearance.

There are a couple threads you should read, including the beginners guide to lifting and the thread on tires sizes.
You can do a lot with a Jeep without lifting at all, and many only do a simple leveling kit and it is still plenty capable off road. You need to decide what you want. You may want to try driving it as is, or maybe with no more than a good set of tires on it, before you start throwing money at it.
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:44 PM   #4
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I usually do a few 1000 mile trips and one or two 3000-5000 mile trips every year. Get a nice kit, stay on top of your tire rotations, and you should be good to go!
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:51 PM   #5
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You can do a lot with a Jeep without lifting at all, and many only do a simple leveling kit and it is still plenty capable off road. You need to decide what you want. You may want to try driving it as is, or maybe with no more than a good set of tires on it, before you start throwing money at it.
Try doing what you want to with it as is. As a student, driving half way across the country, I'd rather see you get good gas milage in a capable stock vehicle than throw money at a "look" you want to achieve.
My 17 JKU is still stock height (I do plan to level it out soon) but it has done anything I have put in front of it so far! I have 3:21 gears so I would need to regear if I put bigger tires and a lift on it.
I drive a lot. 67k on it at 2 years and 3 months. I get 15-17mpg around town, but recently got 19-20 mpg coming back to Texas from Colorado. I think running down hill and probably a tail wind were responsible for the increase.
I like the look of lifted Jeeps with big tires, but as a DD putting in a bunch of miles, I'd rather have the cute looking Baby Jeep in the parking lot than lower mpg.

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Old 10-30-2019, 01:14 PM   #6
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If I were you, I'd get a drive-able 2.5" lift and fit it with 33s (255/80-17) for good fuel economy.

Manual or auto? If auto, 3.73 gears will be great with that size tire. If manual, 4.10.

After college you can go bigger.

Pace yourself. You can wheel plenty on 33s --- your goal first is to keep it running well.
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:35 PM   #7
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Old 10-31-2019, 09:14 PM   #8
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+1 on leaving it stock height and reaping the gas savings. If you want the lift and big tires because it is the look you want, that’s one thing. If you want the lift and tires to off-road, then what others have said about your Jeep’s capability is spot on. My JKUR has a 2.5” lift and 35’s and I have driven what seems like every trail in AZ. And my wife? She has been right behind me in her stock Rubicon doing the same obstacles. Leave it stock but put a spacer kit in to remove the factory rake.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:33 PM   #9
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You have a Jeep, and you want it lifted. As much as you'd like to, you no longer get to worry about mpgs.

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Old 11-01-2019, 08:18 AM   #10
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As much as I would like to lift mine and run 35" tires, I doubt I will. To really do it right requires wheels (or wheel adapters), tires, lift, regear, etc. Since I don't get it offroad as much as I like, I will stick to stock height.

What I will do is move up to 33" tires when my current tires wear out. You can run those without rubbing by adding wheel adapters. IMHO, a JKU with 33s looks "right". My brother has a JK with 33s and it looks like it has a lift even though it doesn't.
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Old 11-01-2019, 08:39 AM   #11
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I stayed stock for a long time on my TJ. Eventually went with a 4inch lift and 32’s and wheel spacers. Then got five awesome wheels and 33’s but had to change the driveshaft to do it right.
Now with my 2013 JK i am happy staying stock with a leveling kit in the future. It came with 4 aggressive looking upgraded 255 bf Goodrich baja champion tires.
I bought a 5th tire as i hate having an odd spare and geez $250 rubber ain’t cheep.
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Old 11-01-2019, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Hilldweller View Post
If I were you, I'd get a drive-able 2.5" lift and fit it with 33s (255/80-17) for good fuel economy.

Manual or auto? If auto, 3.73 gears will be great with that size tire. If manual, 4.10.

After college you can go bigger.

Pace yourself. You can wheel plenty on 33s --- your goal first is to keep it running well.
I drive automatic
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Old 11-01-2019, 10:13 AM
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truth time y'all:

on top of enjoying the great outdoors and not wanting to get stuck, another student in the offroad club (drives a truck not a Wrangler) teased me for driving stock. It haunts me.

Plus they do some pretty complex stuff and I want to be able to keep up (eventually).

Thank you much
~T
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Old 11-01-2019, 10:25 AM   #14
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I don't know, a stock Wrangler probably wouldn't have an issue keeping up with a modified pickup truck.
But if you just want the look of bigger tires, throw your money at bigger tires and a 2.5" lift. Your mpg will drop, but it will increase the Jeeps off road capabilities. However, its off road capabilities are probably already beyond yours.
You can also add lockers and / or mechanical limited slips, along with gears. How much do you plan on spending?
A 2.5" lift with 35" tires can drive just fine across the country, as long as you do the lift right. It is just a matter of money and time.
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Old 11-01-2019, 10:33 AM   #15
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I'd suggest one of two things for your situation:

A.) Flat Fenders with no lift and 285/75R17 tires

B.) Rancho 2" lift or Terraflex Leveling Kit and 255/80R17 tires
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:03 AM   #16
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I don't know about SC, but a stock Jeep will take you all over Texas.
I like the look of some lifts and taller/wider tires, but for most owners it is just the cool factor.

Enjoy your Jeep and
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:11 AM   #17
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I do allot of overland travel across the country from Alabama. I go every year out to Overland Expo West in Flagstaff,AZ. I typically tie in a trip up to Moab in that trip. It's usually just under 5k miles round trip for a 2 week trip camping, offroading, and site seeing. My Jeep is a 14JKU sitting on 3.5" Rock Krawler lift with Fox shocks and 37x13.50 tires. I have 4.56 gears and mine is a 6spd. The Jeep is usually weighed down with 2 weeks worth of gear and food. The ride is fine, it gets a bit anemic at high altitude when up in Colorado but everywhere else it does just fine. I also run up the east side of the country doing the Georgia Traverse from Alabama up to the Carolinas offroad and it works great up that way too.
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Old 11-01-2019, 01:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkf9876 View Post
truth time y'all:

on top of enjoying the great outdoors and not wanting to get stuck, another student in the offroad club (drives a truck not a Wrangler) teased me for driving stock. It haunts me.

Plus they do some pretty complex stuff and I want to be able to keep up (eventually).

Thank you much
~T
Go on an outing with said truck and see how you stack up. My guess is just fine!

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Old 11-04-2019, 02:34 PM   #19
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Go on an outing with said truck and see how you stack up. My guess is just fine!

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^ this

My first 3 offroad runs with our club were in my 100% stock JKU, including the all season tires. Tell your friend that you're willing to buy any lift, wheels, tires, suspension pieces that HE is willing to buy and install for you.
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Old 11-05-2019, 07:57 PM   #20
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A lot also depends on two door vs. four door as the latter will need more lift to achieve the same break-over angle. On a two door 2" of lift and 34-35" tires works great for all but the extreme stuff and will be relatively inexpensive to implement and still be fine in the highway. Once you get to 4" plus you're in a whole new ballpark to really do it right.

FWIW I run 34" tires on a '14 JKR auto with 4.10 gearing and a 2" lift and get about 18 mpg on the highway if I keep it to 65-70 mph. I drop about 2-3 MPG around town though.
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Old 11-10-2019, 10:15 PM   #21
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33's won't look too small with a 2.5" lift. This combination will give you a lot of room for flex. Check out nitto, bfg, falken, cooper, and fuel off road tires if you need all-terrain tires.
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Old 11-10-2019, 11:53 PM   #22
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Lift it as little as possible, like 1-2 inches. Some good shocks. Soft, quiet tires like BFG KO's. Some good rocker skids. Find some take off D44 diffs with 3.73's and lockers. Add a winch. You'll be able to go 99% of the places you would ever want.
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Old 11-12-2019, 09:16 AM   #23
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I have a '17 jk with 2" Rancho lift and 285/70/17 tires.
It's been round trip from Charlotte to Miami and back.....averaged around 17mpg.
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:40 AM   #24
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Good tires and driving techniques will allow most obstacles to be overcome. I have kept all my prior Jeeps stock including my current JKUR. Using as a DD including off road; stock seems to be the sweet spot.
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:48 AM   #25
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Forgot to add, my neighbor has an extreme lifted, massive suspension and huge tire rig that he cannot use if we get slick conditions (snow), it often sits in my driveway as cannot make the road without sliding off and the high center of gravity can make even a ditch look like a cliff...looks cool but those big tires do not like some conditions. Tires and traction are pretty important. Besides only getting 10MPG, he recently bought a used car and leaves the rig parked.
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Old 11-14-2019, 03:30 PM   #26
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I added a lift and 35's to my Jeep and lost about 5 MPG. If you are at all concerned about fuel economy keep it stock.

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