Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited - Getting A Raise Out Of Your Jeep - TechPosted in How To on May 1, 2009
Fitting the right size tires on your vehicle can often mean more than just adding a stylish appearance. Take, for example, the popular Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited. This four-door is part SUV, part off-road vehicle, and although it's fitted with a set of 32-inch BFGoodrich tires, running a set of 35-inch tall mud terrains would give it a definite advantage on the trail. But while many can't afford several thousand dollars for a suspension lift, a simple body lift can give your Jeep enough height to use larger tires at a very affordable cost.
For decades, body lifts have helped many off-road enthusiasts raise their vehicles to gain just enough fender space for larger tires, or to add a few inches to their aftermarket suspension lift for additional ground clearance. In the case of the Wrangler Unlimited, you can combine a 2-inch body lift with a 1.75-inch leveling kit on 2007-'08 models, to clear 35-inch tall tires. This can instantly give you the traction and higher ground clearance to tackle more difficult obstacles, and maintain the factory suspension for a smooth ride on the street.
Installing a body lift on a Jeep such as the Wrangler Unlimited, is an easy task. According to Performance Accessories, a company who has been manufacturing body lift kits for more than 25 years, the key to installing any body lift is to keep the vehicle level with jack stands or a hydraulic lift, as each of the Jeep's body mount bolts are loosened. Using a floor jack, the body can be lifted at each point on the frame where the body mount is located. A few inches are all that is necessary to slip the heavy-duty, polyurethane 2-inch body mount in place. In this application, Performance Accessories included Zinc-plated, heavy-duty hardware (longer bolts) to re-secure the mounts in the factory position.
This procedure is done around the entire perimeter of the Jeep and takes about two to three hours. The front two mounts, those closest to the front radiator and grille, are slightly different than the rest. Installing the front mounts requires removing the top radiator core cover and pulling out the factory grille. This exposes the two front body mounts which are loosened so that the body can be lifted and the new mounts put in place.
Once everything is bolted securely and the Jeep is back on the ground, you can see the extra clearance available for your larger tires. In this application, Performance Accessories also used a Trail Master 1.75-inch leveling kit. These are hard polyurethane spacers that fit above the factory coil spring to level out the front-to-rear ride height. We highly recommend taking your vehicle to a mechanic with a proper spring compression tool to add the leveling spacer to the top of the coil mount. This too is an inexpensive addition to this project that's well worth the effort.
Because the frame is lifted two inches higher, the factory steering is lengthened slightly with a heavy-duty extension that is also supplied in the Performance Accessories kit. This securely attaches the upper and lower steering shafts to maintain the correct geometry and length.
If you don't like looking at the space left between the frame and body, you can use some Gap Guards to cover it up. These are pre-molded urethane inner fender covers that seal up the added space between the body and the frame, to finish off the installation. In this application, the Performance Accessories Gap Guards are simply positioned in place so that the holes in the guards can be used as a template for drilling into the factory plastic inner fenders. Plastic snap buttons are provided to secure the Gap Guards in place.
With the installation complete, a set of 35-inch BFG Mud-Terrain T/A's on a set of Poison Spyder Spyder Lock beadlock wheels were added to the Jeep. A body lift such as this one retails for about $300 and gave this JK added ground clearance and traction that can allow this otherwise stock vehicle the capabilities of hanging out with a more experienced crowd.