Doing More With Less
If you say “budget boost” to anyone outside of the wheeling community they’ll probably assume that you’re referring to a raise in pay. For those more familiar with 4x4 terminologies, a budget boost is a simple and often inexpensive way to lift your rig. These low-cost suspension kits generally net around 2 inches of lift. While there is a wide range of budget boost applications available from the aftermarket, the platform with the most offerings is the ’97-’06 Jeep Wrangler TJ.
With the introduction of the coil-sprung multilink suspension system in ’97, the TJ generation Wrangler cemented itself as one of the most competent off-road–ready vehicles to roll off the factory floor. Using front and rear four-link systems with track bars, the travel and lift potential can easily be modified. A common way to gain lift and increase the performance of the Wrangler is by installing a spacer atop the factory coil spring.
To demonstrate the performance possibilities of a basic budget boost, we took the reins of our buddy’s ’98 Jeep Wrangler TJ. Using a 2-inch entry-level kit from Rough Country Suspension Systems and a set of 33x12.50R15 General Grabbers, we transformed the tame TJ into something more confident on the trail. We’d rate the installation difficulty of this kit 2 out of 10, as for us it only took a couple of hours to knock out. And while this budget lift may not seem like a major upgrade, the low lift and big tire combo translated to a legitimate increase in the Jeep’s off-road performance.
We’ll be the first to admit that the 33x12.50R15 Grabber is very much so stuffed under our Jeep. Off-road the tires pushed into the fender flares a bit, especially when the front sway bar was disconnected. Though the tires may rub a little here and there, the performance advantages of the low lift and big tire combo are well worth it. Since the ’98 TJ is equipped with the 4.0L and automatic transmission, there was no shortage of power, even with factory gearing. In the end, for the low cost and noticeable performance gains we say the budget setup was worth every penny.