1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Project Teal-J II, Part 18Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on March 1, 2007 0) (
By now, some of you are probably wondering how a magazine's project Jeep can last 10 full years and still provide valid tech information to the readers. We'll admit it; we've squeezed a lot from our Teal Princess over the last decade. Changes are evident as we've left no part of the chassis or drivetrain untouched. Now, with its 18th segment, we're looking ahead, realizing that Teal's existence as a testbed for new products isn't going to change anytime soon. And as long as we can keep from destroying her on the trail, Teal-J will remain in our stables for decades to come. Savvy readers will remember our last visit with Teal ("Part 17," Jan. '07), where we tested Fabtech's newest TJ suspension kit. Unfortunately, we couldn't live with some of the quirky wheel-lifting characteristics that the kit caused on the street, so we hit up our friends at TeraFlex to see if they had anything new in store for TJ owners. Fortunately, they did, and they were quite pleased with the opportunity to showcase it on our beloved Teal-J. So arrangements were made to move the Teal-J to TeraFlex Plus-Jeep Adventure Outfitters in Salt Lake City, after the 2006 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. Check out what they did.
We decided to take advantage of Teal's ongoing metamorphosis and update the 37-inch Mickey Thompson ATZ tires with a set of 36-inch (36x15.50R18LT) MTZs instead. We made this change right before Easter Jeep Safari 2006, and just prior to dropping the rig off with TeraFlex. This allowed us to get a good feel for each suspension system on the same set of new tires. (We wouldn't want our before-and-after testing to be affected by different tread designs.) The new overall stance was a bit lower than before, and this new tire was exactly what we needed to prevent rubbing issues with the new kit. We did have to run a pair of 2-inch wheel spacers in the rear, however (due to overall width of this new tire), but felt we could live with that for the short term.
Immediately after picking up Teal from TeraFlex, we headed straight out to the Rubicon Trail for a shakedown session. Our initial impression on pavement was pure joy as all of the wheel lifting associated with the previous kit went away. On the trail, the PRO LCG kit was a delight to drive largely because of the added softness provided by the Fox coilover shocks and pneumatic bumpstops. The rear of the kit seemed a little too soft for us once it was overloaded with camping gear and coolers. We addressed this by updating the rear springs with a 6-inch spring instead. We figure with the weight of the factory hardtop and all the other aftermarket equipment we've bolted on over the years, Teal's caboose was a lot heaver than TeraFlex originally thought. The beauty of this change is that we can always adjust the front coilover shocks up or down depending on load conditions. We love adjustability! After the Rubicon trip, we racked up a few hundred miles on pavement and found that Teal's new suspension was exactly what we were looking for.