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2003 Jeep Wrangler TJ - 4X Forum

Posted in Features on April 1, 2004
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TJS On 31s
Q: I own an '03 Jeep TJ Sport and I want to replace the stock 235/75R15 tires. Can I go to 30 or 31x10.50R15 without rubbing or clearance issues? I've also seen a lot of inexpensive body lift kits in your magazine, some as low as $70. Can they be bolted on without any other modifications? I'm only looking for a small lift, about 1 or 2 inches. Thanks. I'm new to off-roading and I love your magazine.
Shawn Ring
Carignan, Quebec, Canada

A: Shawn, You shouldn't have any problems fitting 30- or 31-inch tires under your Jeep TJ. You may experience a bit of rubbing on the control arms at full lock of the steering wheel, but other than that, these size tires are a good fit, even on the stock 15x7-inch alloy wheels. Though body lifts are available for your TJ, they're simply a means of fitting larger tires and don't provide any added suspension performance. We prefer using such kits to gain further clearance after installing a quality suspension system. If you're still itching for more after installing the 31s, look into the 2-inch Budget Boost from Rubicon Express [(916) 858-8575,]. This kit uses 2-inch spring spacers to allow use of longer-travel shocks and will offer ample clearance for 31-inch tires. You also might consider a set of antisway bar disconnects to further maximize vehicle articulation.

Donor Engine Parts Roundup
Q: I am building up my '86 Isuzu trooper. I have Dana 60s, lockers, and a custom suspension under it. I think it's time to upgrade the engine. I want to install a Chevy 4.3L V-6 out of a '93 S-10. I wanted to know what parts I'm going to have to take from the donor vehicle; specifically the ECM, sensors, cables, gauges, and so on. I just wanted to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. Also, some extra info on a swap such as this would be helpful and greatly appreciated.
Steve Vaughn
via e-mail

A: Steve, We've seen and heard about Isuzu Troopers with Chevy 4.3L V-6 engines under the hood, but from the information we gathered on the subject, it's a time-consuming and fairly expensive process. Many Trooper owners are instead looking to GM's 3.4L V-6, which is said to be a near direct replacement for the factory 2.8L mill. The 3.4L engine produces 160 hp at 5,200 rpm and 194 lb-ft of torque at 2,700 rpm. It also uses the same intake manifold, ignition system, emissions system, and water pump from the 2.8L engine. Some models will also accept the 2.8L oil pan and front cover. These engines are widely available in salvage yards as well as from GM Performance Parts ( When sourcing an engine from a yard, Howell Engine Developments [(810) 765-5100,] recommends gathering all the available components, including the computer, wiring harness, and sensors. Howell indicated that whether you use the donor computer or not, it can always be used as a core trade for a reworked unit. Howell offers complete fuel-injection systems, wiring harnesses, computers, and many engine and fuel-injection parts and accessories. For more information about Isuzu Troopers, check out the Isuzu Troopers Owners Guild at

Toyota Building Ideas
Q: I recently bought an '89 Toyota Extra Cab 4x4 pickup. What should my first modification be? I live in Miami, so I don't need a big-block V-8 with 44-inch tires (although it'd be nice). I'm thinking about 35s, and I want to add front and rear lockers and skidplates. Also, will the four-cylinder engine be powerful enough to swim in some light mud? Will it overheat? Please guide me in building a 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility-worthy 'Yota. Your magazine kicks ass. Thanks for all the help.
Peter Leal

A: Peter, The '89 Toyota pickup is great for 'wheeling and is a good builder rig, too. If you really see 44-inch tires in your future, however, you'll want to consider abandoning the independent front suspension (IFS) setup for a straight-axle conversion. Fitting 35s is a possibility with IFS using a 4- to 5-inch IFS lift and a body lift, but you'll inevitably break parts when the mud gets too thick, or under heavy trail use. This isn't to say that you won't break any parts with a straight-axle up front; the odds are just greater in an IFS-equipped rig. Using either setup, you'll definitely need to re-gear so that you don't overload your four-cylinder engine. The stock gears should be 4.10 or 4.30, but Toyota also offered 4.56 gears as an option in '89. If your rig is equipped with the 4.56 gears, you should be fine; otherwise you'll notice power deficiencies once you've installed tires taller than 33 inches. Many suspension manufacturers offer IFS kits, including Skyjacker, Rancho, Superlift, and TrailMaster. For information about solid axle swaps, skidplates, and other Toyota products, contact All Pro Off Road (

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