4WD&SU's JK Wrangler Unlimited Gets Updated
In mid 2006, a new '07 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon joined the 4 WHEEL DRIVE & SPORT UTILITY MAGAZINE fleet. Over the last couple of years, you've seen it modified with a Full-Traction 3-inch suspension, Pure Jeep front and rear bumpers, AEV beadlock wheels with 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2s, and 4.88 Superior gears in the stock JK Rubicon Dana 44s. A Warn winch sat in the front bumper. A number of interior modifications were made, but the only one we knew about was the Jeep Trail Guide GPS that worked great. It worked so great, that it, along with the AEV wheels, Warn winch, and other pieces, wasn't on the JK when we took it over. The JK also needed some maintenance, so the Green Machine went into the shop to get repaired and updated.
First, we removed the 3-inch suspension that was on the Jeep and installed Full-Traction's 4-inch long-arm suspension system. The new suspension is beefy and is built to be used in the backcountry. Really used. Two-inch, 0.250-wall DOM tubing is used for the lower control arms, and there's 1/4-inch plate bracketry throughout. This is a fully bolt-on system. No welding is required to install the suspension. The 4-inch system completely replaces all JK frame bracketry with new components. With 4-inch coils (all that's required to clear 37-inch tires), the Full-Traction long arm's performance is superb.
While the JK already had Pure Jeep body armor, it's made some improvements and upgrades, especially in the swing-away spare-tire carrier. The latching mechanism is now much easier to operate. A simple squeeze of the latch is all it takes to open it. The JK Wrangler's beer-can sheetmetal is tough to protect when rocker guards are bolted to the body below the door openings. Hitting them hard on a rock or tree stump pushes the sheetmetal in and does more damage than the obstacle does. To combat this problem, Pure Jeep redesigned its rocker guards to wrap up around the door openings as well as bolt to the body mounts. We had to have a set of those. We installed a Warn PowerPlant HP winch in the front bumper, so we could not only have a winch, but also a powerful air compressor on the trail. The PowerPlant sits between the framerails in the Pure Jeep bumper, so it doesn't cover much of the Wrangler's grille.
We put the 35x12.50R17LT BFG Mud-Terrain T/A KM2s on American Eagle alloy wheels with OMF beadlocks. Something had happened on the highway before we took delivery of the Jeep, and one of the BFGs had a groove worn down to the cord all the way around the sidewall but still held air. That's one tough sidewall. We made that tire the spare. We plan on running 37s or even 40s in the near future.