Suspension, Armor, And Recovery
The Jeep Wrangler JK is not perfect. Don't get me wrong, it's a great vehicle in many ways, but it has a laundry list of problem areas that aren't up to the task of repeated trail use. Some of these problem areas have already been addressed on one of our current project JKs, a Rescue Green 2007 model. This month we continue the process with the installation of upgrade parts from JKS Mfg., Old Man Emu, ARB, and Smittybilt.
In stock form Wrangler JKs suffer from inadequate bracing of the factory track bar axle mounting brackets, which can lead to cracked brackets and ultimate failure. We've seen stock brackets welded up at the seams on the axle tube for a temporary fix and even quite a few that have been gusseted with steel plates for "industrial-size" strength. Welding up cracks is a temporary fix and gusseting requires the fabrication of accurately-sized plates so as not to interfere with other suspension components. We found an easier method, however, using the front and rear JK track bar braces from JKS Mfg.
The front and rear JKS track bar braces weld directly to the factory track bar brackets and axle housings at multiple points to create a very strong mounting location. The braces are CNC-cut and formed using high-strength 7-gauge steel and fit over the stock mounts perfectly. Both braces effectively connect the stock mounts to the axle tubes to combat the track bars' inherent lateral force that is compounded in lifted JKs. The front track bar brace also includes a secondary mounting location for high-clearance steering conversions and relocates the steering damper for increased ground clearance.
The front brace is available for JKs equipped with 3 inches of lift or more. We installed the mounts using OME heavy rate springs in front and medium rate springs in the rear, which actually gave us the needed rise provided we don't let the JK get too much heavier. The JK was previously using a set of 2-inch spring spacers to achieve the needed rise for the 33x12.50 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZs. The OME springs create more space in the fender wells and the 33s are much more effective on the trail as a result.
Along with the JKS track bar braces we also installed the company's front and rear adjustable track bars. The adjustable track bars are bent to OE specifications for proper geometry and clearance and feature zinc plating and a powdercoat finish. The bars are easily adjusted to perfectly center the axle beneath the vehicle and use OE rubber bushings for smooth, squeak-free operation. The rear bar is manufactured from 1.25x0.250-inch DOM tubing and the front from 1.25x0.375-inch DOM tubing. JKS adjustable track bars are compatible with most aftermarket suspension systems and allow constant adjustment as vehicle modifications require.
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