Creative body mods help this TJ fit 46s with minimal suspension lift
Question: How many inches of suspension lift does it take to fit 46-inch-diameter tires on a Jeep Wrangler TJ?
Answer: four. No, not fourteen. Four. Anyway, that’s the sum total of the suspension lift under Shawn Gleason’s ’05 TJ.
Gleason, a roofing contractor by trade, did all the work on the rig in his garage.
You may be thinking that with only four inches of suspension lift there must be a heckuva lot of modifications to the TJ to fit the large 46s. If you’re thinking that, you are correct.
Gleason purchased this Jeep when it was only nine months old and he wheeled it in stock form for about a year before beginning what he calls the “conversion.” Gleason, a roofing contractor by trade, did all the work on the rig in his garage. The upshot is that among other things he stretched the Jeep’s wheelbase, made significant body mods, swapped-in a pair of tough axles, and fabbed-up a four-link suspension with air shocks.
The finished rig has a low center of gravity, outstanding approach and departure angles, good ground clearance, and notable suspension flex. All of these things combine to create a rig that is at home on the trails he runs in California and Utah.
At A Glance
Vehicle: 2005 Jeep Wrangler TJ
Owner: Shawn Gleason
Stomping grounds: San Jacinto, California
Build time: One year
Engine: Jeep 4.0L I-6
Transfer case(s): NP231, TeraFlex 4:1 low range gears, Advance Adapters SYE kit
Low range ratio(s): 4:1
Crawl ratio(s): 61.1:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 60, 4x4 Posi-Lok cable actuator/Yukon 5.38 gears, welded spider gears
Rear axle/differential: GM 14-bolt/Yukon 5.38 gears, Yukon spool
Front: Four-link, Fox 2.5 air shocks
Rear: Four-link, Fox 2.5 air shocks
Steering: PSC hydraulic with double-ended ram
Tires: 15.5x80R20 (46.4x15.55R20) Michelin G-20 Pilote XL
Wheels: 20x10 USA Forged, internal beadlock
Armor: Full rollcage, rock rails, front stinger
Cool stuff: Smittybilt X20 8 winch, easy-to-access Hi-Lift jack
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Gleason went wild on the TJ’s body, eliminating anything that would impede off-road travel or get in the way of wheel travel. He removed the front fenders and inner fenders, cut 51⁄2 inches from the outside edges of the hood, added 3-inch-wide front steel “flares,” made new front fender panels from 1⁄16-inch-thick steel plate backed by an angle iron frame, added Blue Torch Fabworks Competition Corners to the rear and then radiused the rear wheelwells, and removed the factory bumpers. He also moved the front axle forward 9 inches and the rear axle rearward 9 inches, which gives the TJ a 111.4-inch wheelbase. The rig is fitted with 15.5x80R20 (46.4x15.55R20 equivalent) Michelin G-20 Pilote XL tires mounted to 10-inch-wide USA Forged wheels with inner beadlocks. Other features include a front stinger bar made from 1.750-inch-diameter, 0.188-inch-wall DOM tubing; a front-mounted Smittybilt X20 8 winch; custom rocker protection; Smittybilt canvas half-doors; recessed LED taillights; aluminum roof; and a quartet of halogen underbody rock lights.