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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all - I just turned 16 and am buying my first jeep with my dad's help. I'm getting a 2003 Wrangler TJ. I'm borrowing $2,000 for upgrades and want new wheels, tires and a lift. I may be able to go slightly over, but not much. I would like to do some offload, but know I will need to spend more $ in the near future to do more extreme offroad (like upgrading lift beyond what I can afford now).

I'm thinking about 15" wheels and 33in tires. Can anyone help with suggestions on this + a lift to get me started? I really appreciate the help.
 

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You would probably get better info and help if you posted in the TJ section of the forum.:happyyes:

And welcome aboard..
 

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Moved Thread.
 

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So you want to mod for tires. Depending on tire sizes and $$$, I would start with a 1.25" BL and 1" MML. Depending on the terrain you will be driving chromoly axles in the rear and Black Magic Brakes, and the "Easy Pedal."
 

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stick to a 2" or less lift into suspension.
use up to a 1.5" body lift to help add height if u like, maybe a motor mount lift to help with driveline angles.
try and at least upgrade the stock tie rod its not good with bigger tires.
consider the 31x10.5 is good starter set for jeep, not much smaller than a 33 and better road manners than a 12.5
if buyin wheels 31x10.5 need 4.5" BS or less the 12.5 should be down around 4" or less.
keep 30% of your budget for "dammit I didn't expect this" items.
 

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Hi all - I just turned 16 and am buying my first jeep with my dad's help. I'm getting a 2003 Wrangler TJ. I'm borrowing $2,000 for upgrades and want new wheels, tires and a lift. I may be able to go slightly over, but not much. I would like to do some offload, but know I will need to spend more $ in the near future to do more extreme offroad (like upgrading lift beyond what I can afford now).

I'm thinking about 15" wheels and 33in tires. Can anyone help with suggestions on this + a lift to get me started? I really appreciate the help.
If you're going with a limited budget, get a set of 15X8 wheels, and 31-10.50 X 15 tires. That way, you don't need a lift. You don't need to worry about over stressing your differentials, either.
You can always add a lift later, when you're more familiar with the vehicle, both mechanically, and it's capabilities.
It'll also give you the funds to fix whatever you find that you need/ want to. And you will.
 

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I'd get 31's, armor, and a winch. That combo will do a whole lot for your wheeling ability and get you out of any jams. Learn to wheel small, then grow as your budget, and experience, allows.
 

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Before you do anything, get your Jeep. Be sure to take a good flashlight (an LED if you have one) and thoroughly check the underside for rust. Get the VIN number and if the seller will not spring for a CarFax, sign up and get one yourself. It has a lot of good information about where it was originally sold, how many times it was sold, maintenance done at a dealer or major shop as well as any other issues. It will also tell you the exact model of the Jeep.

After you get the Jeep, it will have 15" wheels (unless you spring for a 2003-6 Rubicon which will run the price up). The 31x10.5R15 tires in the BFGoodrich line has two options of which the KO2 is probably a better choice. It is 31.5" tall and 10.5" across the section. It is the same height as the stock tire on the Rubicon and just a little wider. They will fit without a lift, so you can put that off until after you have the tires mounted. BFGoodrich also says those tires are suited for wheels from 7" to 9". Here is a link to the spec sheet for the KO2s:
https://www.bfgoodrichtires.com/upload/bfgoodrich/specifications/specs-all-terrain-t-a-ko2.pdf

Then decide what type of off road trips you will make. This will also depend on where you live. If you are in the deep south with the flat pine lands, you won't need much if any. If you are rock climbing in the Smokies, Appalachians, Rockies or out west, then you will obviously need more.

Once you get your Jeep, you will know what you have to work with and how much you have to accomplish it. Keep in mind that tires along will be between $800 and $1000 of your budget.

Also remember that Jeeps and speed in corners don't get along too well, especially off road. The son of a good friend recently laid his TJ on it's side. It was on one of these nice flat S. Georgia dirt trails and he his a corner a little fast, the rear skidded, caught in a rut and over it went. Fortunately his worst injury was his embarrassment. The worst damage to the Jeep was the milk bottle end on the front bumper and the left front flare. When dad arrived, he took photos and showed them to a few friends. I commented that he got a good look at the bottom, and he replied "Yep, No Rust!". Fortunately the young man had his belts fastened and arms inside the Jeep.

And lastly - Never go off road as a solo vehicle. (I don't mean your generic gravel/dirt roads with homes and farms along the way, I mean wilderness areas). There is a YouTube video by a member who was blissfully driving along a remote trail out west, not on rocks or anything exotic, he moved over a bit to drive past a log end and didn't see the sharp rock just beyond a bush and it slashed both right side tires. He was 10 miles in and no cell service. Fortunately, another Jeep came along, had the same size tire and same lug pattern (both JKs) and loaned him his spare and they came out together.

Another lesson - if you are going to change tire size - you have to buy five. Four wheel drive systems do not like 3 tires of one size and one of another. If you change wheels, that's five of them also.

The youth of today are smarter than we were when I was young and stupid 60 years ago. Now you have the forums and you are asking questions. There is a lot of information on here and people willing to share the info. I have learned a lot more in the three years I have been on here than I ever knew in the years I had my YJs and my only sources were books and magazines.
 

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Don’t borrow any $$$ to do this. Off-roading is so much more fun when you don’t owe money on your rig.

Get a jeep. Get all the repairs and maintenance done (you’ll have a lot of that to do more than likely), and build as you go. A stock jeep even on smaller tires will be very capable off road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow - thank you all for the great advice. I'm taking it all in and really appreciate the help and time you took to reply!! Definitely looking forward to starting this next phase of my life (....life with Jeep....).

Thanks again.
 
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