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1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee - Suspension Kit Installation

Posted in How To on November 23, 2006
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Photographers: C. Olaf Lee
The Old Man Emu 1-inch suspension system not only enhanced the stance of our '99 Grand Cherokee but greatly improved the ride quality as well.

For some vehicles a tall suspension lift just isn't necessary. Though 35-inch-and-taller tires can be huge advantages when crawling difficult trails, some folks simply aren't interested in crawling difficult trails. For example, most Grand Cherokee vehicles we see on the trail roll on 31-inch tires and typically max out at 33-inch. This isn't because kits to fit taller tires aren't available for these vehicles, but more so because ZJs perform pretty darn well for most owners with tires in the 31- to 32-inch range.

The Old Man Emu 1-inch suspension system for the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ actually offers nearly 1.25 to 1.5 inches of lift (depending on the vehicle) to allow fitment of up to a 31-inch tire. We elected to go just a shade shorter to ensure that we'd still be able to maintain decent articulation without hitting the fenders. The LT265/70R16 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/AKO has an overall diameter of 30.7 inches, which proved to be a perfect fit once the kit was installed. For you DaimlerChrysler loyalists, you might note that the BFG All-Terrain in this size is also an OE fitment for some DC model vehicles. The BFG All-Terrain is a D-rated tire in this size and provides excellent sidewall protection from rocks and other trail obstacles.

Still in stock form, the ZJ's suspension had been ridden hard throughout California and during multiple trips to Baja California. The springs were so sacked that the tires hit the fenders at nearly every intersection.

Old Man Emu can supply medium- and heavy-load coil springs to accommodate the many factory Jeep Grand Cherokee suspension irregularities and packaged option models. Light-load front coil springs are also available. These springs aren't one-size-fits-all in the least; they are actually tailored to each application. If the medium- and heavy-rate springs are mixed front to rear, it may be necessary for some vehicles to use the available trimmer spacers to level the vehicle. We installed the heavy springs at the rear to support a receiver-hitch motorcycle rack and will keep the spacers handy should the medium-rate front springs begin to sit lower than the rear. Many will install the heavy springs up front to support an aftermarket steel bumper and winch combo. Or, heavy springs can be installed all around to maintain fender clearance when the vehicle is fully loaded with tools, recovery gear, a spare tire, and survival gear.

Whatever spring load rate you elect to install, you should find improvement over stock. In our case, the stock coils and previously installed aftermarket shocks were pretty well shot and were creating more bounce and road sway than that of our Wrangler TJ on 37s. With the OME equipment in place, however, it was like night and day. The ride is awesome and offers decreased steering effort and greater on-road stability. In the dirt the results were just as impressive. The fresh coil springs soaked up the bumps with ease and the Nitrocharger shocks efficiently damped the ride.

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Renton, WA 98057

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