No matter what your price range is, there's a used Jeep out there somewhere with your name on it. And one of the benefits of buying used is being able to take all that money you've saved and apply it to aftermarket upgrades to make your Jeep trail-worthy.
To prove the point, we rounded up a well-worn YJ and began the process of building it up without breaking the bank. Our high-mileage hardtop Wrangler is a classic no-frills model, outfitted with a four-banger, a five-speed, and 4:10 gears - not a bad place to start.
The first order of business was scrapping the rusty, well-worn suspension to make room for more rubber. Rather than get crazy with a high-dollar coil conversion or some other trick suspension, we opted to follow our original low-buck plan and put a traditional leaf spring suspension under the YJ. This setup is nearly bulletproof and is easily installed by your average shade-tree mechanic.
Trail Master Suspension offers a bolt-on leaf spring suspension system for '87-'96 Wrangler YJs and '53-'86 CJs that provides 3-1/2 inches of lift. The kit (PN JYJ34) comes complete with new leaf packs that have been heat-treated and shot-peened for durability, along with urethane spring bushings and the mounting hardware. The lift provides enough room for as big as 33-inch tires. Trail Master also offers an optional steering stabilizer and shackle reversal kit for Wranglers and CJs.
Trail Master sells the kit with three shock absorber choices. Since our low-buck Wrangler will see its share of street duty as well as off-road action, we opted for Trail Master's new SSV Speed Smart Shocks, which offer state-of-the-art ride control. The internal Speed Smart Valving in the shocks automatically adjusts to changing road surfaces and smoothes out the ride of the lifted short-wheelbase Wrangler.
We opted to have 4 Wheel Parts Performance Center in Santa Ana, California, install the kit. Because our Wrangler had apparently spent part of its life in snow country, a number of the bolts had rusted in place and had to be cut off. Other than that, the install was straightforward.If you're looking to make room for larger wheels and tires on your YJ and not break the bank in the process, check into Trail Master's Wrangler suspension.
The Currie ConnectionCurrie Enterprises makes a variety of components that will enhance the performance of your YJ.
The towing shackles that we installed on the front of our Wrangler make hooking up to a towbar a cinch. Fitted with urethane bushings, the center bolt design provides more strength than stock units. The gold zinc-plated shackles are fitted with grease fittings in the bolts and come with quick-disconnects for the towbar.
In back, Currie recommended a set of Boomerang shackles. This curved-style shackle increases rear spring travel and enhances ride and handling. Similar to the front tow shackles, the Boomerangs are made of 1/4-inch, gold zinc-plated steel and feature the same center bolt design for strength. They are also fitted with urethane bushings and zerk fittings for quiet operation.
In the rocks, U-bolts take a beating. To protect these vital components, Currie Enterprises builds heavy-duty universal spring plates. These boxed steel plates are available in a variety of sizes and configurations (with or without sway bar and shock mounts) and are available for a variety of vehicles. They are a direct bolt-on replacement for the stock U-bolt plates.