In “Round Spring Swap,” the we showed some of the specifics of ditching the rear leaf springs in our ’98 Cherokee to install T&T Custom’s bolt-on rear coil conversion. We did it with some trepidation because we really like the front coil, rear leaf suspension, but it just wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore and we needed to do something.
Swapping out leaf springs for coils is a big change. When we started down this road we assumed we wouldn’t be able to go back to leafs, even if we wanted to—so we thought we were taking a big gamble. After seeing the kit come together, we now know that going back to stock is actually possible. But now that we’ve wheeled the Jeep and driven it on-road, we know we’d never do that. So if it was a gamble, we hit it big.
We drove the Jeep out to Wyoming to T&T Customs’ home base for the install and then got plenty of seat time heading back home through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and finally California with lots of stops for wheeling and smelling the proverbial roses along the way. Some of the stops were planned. Some of the stops were unplanned and unwanted, thanks to mechanical failures under the hood. But overall, it was a cool trip that gave us a lot of time to evaluate the new suspension.
As concerned as we were going into this conversion, we were initially glad we went through with it. The truth is, the more we live with it, the happier we are. On-road it handles better than it did before, even though we had the rear swaybar on it before. There is a five mile section of twisty mountain road that we drive frequently with a 55 mph speed limit. Before the conversion, the rear end would start feeling squirrelly at 35-40 mph and actually started to come around in a couple of spots at 45 mph. Now we can do most of that same section at or near the posted speed limit, and the Jeep feels like it could go faster if we pushed harder.
Off-road the Jeep is a monster. We are now able to keep up with our buddies in their TJs and LJs in the higher-speed stuff. We have, however, faded the shocks a few times to the point where we had to slow down. While crawling, the added articulation keeps the tires on the ground much better than before. Now we can make it up things in 2WD that used to require locking in the hubs. In 4WD, we are sometimes even able to make it up obstacles that we’d have to use the lockers on before. Even with the front sway bar disconnected, it feels reasonably stable off-road, but we’d still like to put a light sway bar on it for wheeling.