We Test Pro Comp's New TJ/LJ Suspension Kit
If you own a Jeep Wrangler built between 1997 and 2005, you're probably sick of hearing about all the cool new stuff for the newest model. In fact, we'd be willing to bet you're probably frustrated every time you pick up a magazine, only to salivate over the literal smorgasbord of new JK-specific product offerings. It's true; the aftermarket feast, present during every decade of Jeep vehicle, has pretty much digested the TJ, and moved on to what critics and purists alike agree is still a Jeep thing, and you wouldn't understand...and yes, the JK is here to stay.
However, Pro Comp is out to change all that. And yes, they sell a JK kit or two, but they also realize a significant number of TJs are still on the road today, many of which are just now becoming builder rigs. Today, Pro Comp offers the distinguished Jeepaholic a new TJ long-arm system that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of appetites. The offering is geared towards daily drivers who like to escape on the weekends. You know, the folks who actually use and sometimes even abuse their rigs for the sake of good fun. Longer suspension link arms allow the kit a more supple ride quality, yet adjustable MX6 dampers can stiffen the road feel more than twice that of stock. The system elevates the vehicle just 4 inches over stock, yet increases articulation significantly. What's more, the rear portion of this system eliminates the rear track-bar setup in favor of a stout triangulated four-link setup. This is the system we opted for, and without betting the farm, we'll say it outperforms the factory five-bar arrangement in every way. Further benefits of the new kit include an additional 11/2 inches of bellypan clearance, a less jarring on-highway ride, and the ability to stuff 35-inch tires without rubbing. But what makes this kit extra special is the fact that you don't have to go super tall to excel at hard-core trail action. The kit flexes with the best of them and thanks to a lower roll center, you need not worry when your teenage daughter begs to borrow the Jeep for a quick jaunt to the supermarket. Simply hand over the keys with confidence, knowing full-well that she's going to keep the dirty side down. Now, if only it was that easy keeping the boys away from her.
What We Think
Both the street ride and trail capability of our donor LJ improved vastly over the factory arrangement. We flogged the rig through the deserts of Northern Nevada on several occasions, and with each outing, our confidence only grew. After a few trips out, we started adjusting the MX-6 shocks to find the best tune for this particular rig's weight bias. For us, the fronts seem to work right around the halfway point, and the rear shocks are good at the stiffest setting. A small key tool allows us to adjust the shocks without getting our hands dirty.
Perhaps the most noticeable improvement of this kit is the rear triangulated four-link setup. No longer does the rear axle want to push in or out laterally throughout the range of travel. Instead it tracks straight up and down, negating all rear-axle wobble while increasing the feeling of stability at higher speeds. This gain is most noticeable when entering a hard corner at high speed, such as you would during a clover-leaf freeway on-ramp. The Pro Comp A/T tires are surprisingly quiet and smooth running, well-suited for a daily driver who encounters a variety of terrain.
The Trickle-Down Effect
After running the new suspension system for several months, we encountered a situation that made us realize we needed to upgrade the rig's steering setup. After a trip, the Jeep's owner noticed a slight bend in the factory tie rod. We theorized that the added leverage of larger tires was simply too much for the stock steering setup. So we contacted Off Road Only (ORO) and got them to send out a solution. ORO has a killer upgrade for Jeep TJs that vastly improves the durability and geometry of the factory Y-link steering arrangement.