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2004 Jeep Liberty Rock Krawler Suspension Install - Lifted Liberty

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on September 1, 2005
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We've heard the Jeep Liberty made fun of in some relatively creative ways. "Girlie truck" and "homely" are two of the nicer terms we've heard to describe it. But we've spent many hours behind the wheel of the KJ and we've come to respect the little Jeep's capabilities. And shazam, now that it's available with the 2.8L CRD diesel engine, we like it even more. There's definitely room for improvement, though. One of our biggest gripes is with the KJ's ground clearance, or lack thereof. This is followed closely by the lackluster wheel travel.

The Rock Krawler 7 Up Suspension System includes all of the parts you see here. You'll also need to get your hands on a custom front crossover exhaust pipe (for gasoline models), a rear CV driveshaft or heavy-duty slip-yoke eliminator kit with CV driveshaft, a longer front driveshaft, and a TJ Wrangler rear antiroll-bar assembly. Two 7 Up kits are available. One is for '02 through early '04 models and the other is for late '04 through '05 models. The differences between the two kits are minuscule, though important, because Jeep changed the transfer case/transmission crossmember during the '04 model year.

It took a while, but the aftermarket has responded to all of these issues. One option is Rock Krawler Suspension's new 7 Up Suspension System. Rock Krawler says that the 7-inch kit allows fitment of 33-inch-diameter tires (with a maximum backspacing of 5.25 inches for 12.5-inch-wide tires), which helps create 11.5 inches of ground clearance. The company also says that 35-inch tires can be fitted with fender trimming. Highlights of the front end of the kit include massive subframes that allow reuse of the stock lower A-arms, new upper A-arms, and adjustable rate coilover racing shocks. Highlights of the rear of the kit include a double adjustable triangulated four-link conversion, competition-proven weld-in rear cradle, long-arm mounting brackets, and double adjustable lower control arms.

When we got a call from Dan McKeag, owner of Burnsville Off Road in Burnsville, Minnesota, asking if we were interested in watching the Rock Krawler kit being installed on an '04 Liberty, we hit the road. Burnsville Off Road has been in business since 1997 and does a full range of four-wheel-drive mods as well as custom fabrication. You'll recall that McKeag was the creator of the unique (and very fast) Viper-powered TJ Wrangler that competed in the '99 Top Truck Challenge. Based on his past track record of cool Jeeps and Jeep-related innovations, when he calls and says something is worth seeing, we're there.

Following are some of the highlights of how the Rock Krawler 7 Up kit transforms a Liberty into a serious trail playa. It's important to note that this is not a bolt-by-bolt install guide and there are many parts in addition to what is shown here. Rock Krawler points out that this kit is a very complex install and it requires cutting and welding. It also requires additional parts not included in the kit.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow

The owner of this Liberty travels extensively for Sirius satellite radio, and after many miles he reports that he is very pleased with the kit. On-road, he says that the ride is improved over stock and handling is exceptional. We had a chance to watch the rig work off-highway, and we were impressed at the wicked amount of suspension travel it exhibited. No weird handling characteristics emanated from the rig either as we bounced over the Minnesota terrain. Suffice to say, the Liberty's off-highway capabilities were markedly improved.

An example of how markedly improved can be found in the RTI numbers. We ramped a stock '05 Liberty on a 23-degree ramp and climbed 49 inches, giving a score of 470 points. Our Rock Krawler-equipped Liberty annihilated that figure with a 77.5-inch climb, posting an RTI of 743 points.

PhotosView Slideshow

From meek to freak. Park Jeep Chrysler in Burnsville, Minnesota, loaned us a new bone-stock Liberty so we could grab this side-by-side shot to illustrate the radical difference the Rock Krawler Suspension 7 Up kit makes in the Liberty's look. It 'wheels pretty good, too.


Burnsville Off Road

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