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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All, I’m new to this forum and looking for some build advice. I recently inherited my Father’s 1989 Jeep YJ (red), 2.5L (manual transmission). He was the original owner, it’s completely stock (original everything). It’s always been garage kept (no rust on frame or body whatsoever), it has 40K miles on the odometer. I own a vintage Porsche 911 and I’m active on those forums; but I’ve always loved wranglers (to me, both are legendary iconic vehicles), so I’m happy to own both. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks searching threads and educating myself to the world of the Jeep YJ, however the more I look the more overwhelmed I am feeling, so any advice would be a real relief. I would like for this to be a fun build project for myself and my two teenage sons to work on this summer. It will become a fun weekend vehicle (not a daily driver, so I’m not concerned about gas mileage). Also, I will not be doing any serious off-roading or rock crawling, maybe some light trails and snow. I would however like it to look the part of an off-roader, so I’d like to change the stance and appearance of the vehicle so that it looks more aggressive (but also stay true to its vintage nature - think more “retro mod”). So I was thinking new suspension/lift kit, new wheels & tires, new front and rear bumpers, new fender flares, and a host of other cosmetic improvements (seats, mirrors, etc.). I’ve gotten almost everything figured out but I’m really struggling with the suspension, wheels and tires (shocker). I was originally thinking of installing a new 4” lift/suspension upgrade kit with 15x8 steel wheels and 33X10.5/R15 tires. But I’m worried this may be “too much” for my small underpowered YJ. I really do not want to replace the engine or other drivetrain components or gearing as part of my project, but I would like to improve the look with a taller and more aggressive stance to the vehicle. Understanding my goals, what lift/wheel/tire combo would you all recommend for my use/vehicle? If people could comment on the following, that would be amazing, thanks in advance for your help!

Suspension: Height of lift? Body Lift (yes/no)? Recommended brand (Rough Country, etc.)?
Wheels: 15x8 or 15x10?
Tires: 31” or 33”? 10.5 or 12.5?
 

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My advice would be to keep it stock, throw some BFG AT's on it and maybe some new springs if your originals are starting to sag... If you insist on lifting it give the ole girl some love with OME 2.5 springs, and 31" tires.

If you would like to see some photos of a YJ with new stock springs and AT tires let me know and I'll send you some.
 

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Building a Jeep is no easy task and once you look at the cost of things it can get a little crazy. 33’s (In my opinion) are the largest tires I’d ever go on a Jeep, or well really any of my off roaders. I’ve got a buddy with a 95 YJ that has the 2.5l and 33’s…it’s not a speed demon by any means and it struggles to get above 65 on the highway. It’s got 4.11 gears so I think maybe some more aggressive gearing would help the get up and go – maybe like a 5.29 or a 4.88. Once you start adding the bumpers and the spare tire things get heavy quickly.

Lift wise, I think a 4” lift is a good size if you want something that looks aggressive but has decent street manners. Stray away body and shackle lifts, just get a good suspension lift and it will last.

By the way, post some pics of your rig! We all gotta see what you’re working with.

Welcome to the forum!
 

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How do you make a capable vehicle horrible on the road and off?

You put too big a tire on and don't regear! To just reiterate what others have already said, keep it small and build as your budget allows. You may find that you only need a 2.5L and 31" tires to enjoy the YJ. A 2.5" RE or OME lift compliments 31" tires well and will provide some lift to undoubtedly old and worn out springs. It would also be a good idea to freshen up factory bushings and steering components.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all very much for the advice. I'm moving forward with the following:
- O.M.E 2.5” Lift Kit w/ transfer case drop
- M.O.R.E. 1” Body Lift
- O.M.E Front and Rear Grease-able Shackles
- O.M.E Steering Stabilizer with new bushings
- Mickey Thompson Baja ATZP3 Radial Tires (31x10.50R15LT) w/ 15" Matte Black Steel D-Window Wheels

I'm feeling pretty good about this set-up, I will post before and after pics.
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just a quick update, all the items have been installed:

- O.M.E 2.5” Lift Kit w/ transfer case drop
- M.O.R.E. 1” Body Lift
- O.M.E Front and Rear Grease-able Shackles
- O.M.E Steering Stabilizer with new bushings
- Mickey Thompson Baja ATZP3 Radial Tires (31x10.50R15LT) w/ 15" Matte Black Steel D-Window Wheels

Also, Installed Corbeau Sport Reclining Front Seats - Black Vinyl/Cloth and rear bench seat.

I went with this suspension build because it gave me the option to go with 33" wheels in the future, but I'm thinking it may be too high? I did the transfer case drop, but I'm getting a ton of vibration from the drive shaft, it's almost not drivable. If I were to lower it a bit, what should be removed? the body lift or the shackles?? or both.


Impressions and thoughts? Any advice is welcome.
Thanks!
 

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Looking good. That 2.5 lift sure raised it up. You shouldn't have a vibration with that much lift and a TC drop? Did you replace your u-joints when you lifted it? The body lift should not effect it at all. I would check u-joints.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think the combination of the lift kit, the body lift and the new shackles brought it approx 4" in total lift, but your right, the BL should not matter. I will check the u-joints, thx!!
 

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As already mentioned, the u-joints are you best place to start. Once you lift it you change the geometry and things get wonky, especially on older, worn joints. A good permanent fix would be to install a SYE kit or with your small lift, likely just a MML (motor mount lift). I personally don't like t-case drops. There is no purpose in lifting a rig and adding bigger tires to add ground clearance, to then have your belly plan hang down and get caught on everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you very much for the advice, I will look into the SYE kit, I had not heard of that before, so much appreciated.

Also, I had read about this, and it's true. Corbeau Sport Reclining Front Seats installed easily on the existing seat mounts/brackets, but they are way too high. The extra thick bolsters and seat cushions don't really fit ergonomically, my thighs hit the bottom of the steering wheel. so I ordered the Corbeau seat mounts, hope that improves things.

Will be adding new front and rear bumpers along with rock rails soon and will post more pics
 

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That paint job will come to life if you buffed it. Buy a thing of meguiars ultimate compound and rub it in. You'll get your factory clear coat back.

Install your factory shackles and I'm more than positive you'll get rid of that vibration. You've got too much suspension lift, look at the angle of your driveshaft. Needs to be level. Every jeep is different. Mine has a 4" suspension lift and a t case drop. No vibrations.
 

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It's possible to lower the seat brackets, although it requires some welding. I've done it and worked out better than I imagined.
Search " lowering my 87 seats" for the best discription and instructions.
Worth a look.
 

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I emailed Corbeau, as I have their seats also. They said their mounts will lower the seat about 2". They are $109 each. If you had to pay someone to redo your stock base, it probably would not be much different in cost.
 
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