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1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Smittybilt Bumper & Winch - Wrangler Recovery

Posted in How To on January 1, 2010
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If you own a '97-'06 Jeep Wrangler TJ then you know that there is no shortage of aftermarket support. With so many bumper and winch units on the market, it can be tough to stop searching and commit to one combo. While personal preference, function, and price all play a part in finding the right setup for your TJ, sometimes it all boils down to getting the most bang for your buck.

To mount the 8,000-pound XRC series winch we used a winch mounting plate that utilizes the six upper frame holes on the front of our '97 TJ. Since our Jeep was rich with rust from years on the East Coast, it was necessary to spray a healthy amount of PB Blaster onto the original mounting tabs so as not to snap off any bolts. In addition to the obvious grille protection that Smittybilt's new stinger bumper provides, we like the bonus of the two D-ring recovery points. To attach the front bumper, simple use the four upper and two lower factory frame mounts.

Recently we decided to use our '97 four-cylinder Wrangler TJ for a little mud tire evaluation, but before we headed to the pit, we needed to outfit our frontend with a solid recovery system. Not wanting to add a bunch of weight to the light-duty wheeler or spend a ton of dough, we looked to the aftermarket Jeep specialist at Smittybilt for our Wrangler's front retrieval solution. Opting for Smittybilt's new stinger bumper and XRC-8 winch, we grabbed a couple handtools and took to the garage for the install. Using a Smittybilt winch plate and upgrading to the lighter synthetic cable, we had the entire setup bolted onto the front of our TJ in just a couple of hours.

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Winch Workings
After a long day pulling both the Wrangler and the boss' Flatfender out of the muck, we were very pleased with how the bumper and winch worked. The overall speed of the winch was good, and the engagement system worked without a hitch. One thing that we did notice was that when the winch was under a heavy load it zapped a lot of juice from our four-cylinder's electrical system. While we never felt the winch slow down, the power draw had us wishing for a dual battery setup when our voltmeter dropped into the red. Overall the Smittybilt combo worked exactly the way we needed as a simple, stylish, and effective Jeep recovery system.


Compton, CA 90220

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