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Bitty Boost Bonanza - Affordable Mild Jeep Lifts

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on June 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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Bitty Boost Bonanza - Affordable Mild Jeep Lifts
Photographers: Courtesy of the Manufacturer

What's the matter, little camper? You want a taller stance, but don't have a ton of coin to drop on a fancy new suspension system? Or maybe you're happy with the plush ride of your factory springs and only want to grab tires that are a size or two larger? Or maybe you just get dizzy at the thought of all those steering and driveline changes you'd need to make with a really tall lift?

Any way you slice it, if you've got a Jeep, the aftermarket has you covered with an affordable budget boost for your suspension. What we're talking about is just a little lift that in most cases retains the factory springs and as much of the factory steering, braking, and driveline components as possible. Most Jeeps can swallow a 3/4-2-inch suspension boost without needing many, if any, modifications to the brake lines, steering components, or driveshaft angles. Here is just a smattering of some budget boosts available for your Jeep. If you like what you see, but don't own the Jeep model listed, check the company's offerings. Chances are that there is a system for your Jeep as well. And just in case you're wondering, we'll include sidebars for each of the really popular Jeep models so you know what your suspension boost should come with, what additional modifications you may need to make, and what size tires you'll be able to fit.

AEV TJK 2- uh, 3.5, er...
We asked AEV to send us a photo of its 2-inch TJ polyurethane coil spring spacers that sell for $33 a pair, but instead we received this image of the company's full-mambo Nth Degree JK suspension system. Uh, not exactly budget, guys. However, the TJ spacers are a real bargain.
Contact: AEV, 406/251-2100, aev-conversions.com

BDS Suspension
1.75-inch XJ
With a 2-inch polyurethane front coil spacer, four dropped bumpstop brackets, a rear add-a-leaf, longer rear spring centerpins, new rear axle U-bolts, and four twin-tube shocks, the BDS 1.75-inch lift for '84-'01 XJs not only gives you the clearance to run 30x9.50 tires, but will probably add a little load carrying capacity to the rear-all for $327.74. Don't forget to measure your U-bolts in the rear before ordering, because the Dana 35 and Chrysler 81/4 use different part numbers.
Contact: BDS Suspension, 800/637-3303, bds-suspension.com

Performance Accessories
1.75-inch JK
Squeeze 33s under your JK for under $30? Yep! Performance Accessories offers these snazzy little 1.75-inch polyurethane spacers for the front of JK Wranglers for a mere $27, so if you need just a little fender clearance for hardly any pesos, check 'em out.
Contact: Performance Accessories, 928/636-7080, p-a-g.net

Poly Performance 2-inch JK
The new Synergy Starter kit from Poly Performance features superb progressive-rate 2-inch lift front and rear coils, front and rear shock relocation brackets to use stock shocks (or upgrade to Poly Performance Synergy shocks without relocation brackets), rear sway bar links, brake line relocation brackets, bumpstop spacers, and all necessary hardware to run up to 35s on your JK Wrangler. As a cool tech tip, Poly Performance retains the stock rear sway bar links and moves them to the front.
Contact: Poly Performance, 805/783-2060, polyperformance.com

Pro Comp 2.5-inch JK
Pro Comp Suspension just announced the availability of its 2.5-inch suspension systems for the Jeep Wrangler JKs. These systems feature front and rear coil springs, a heavy-duty rear track bar brace, and high-quality hardware to improve the vehicle's ride and handling over all road surfaces. These systems are available with either MX6 adjustable monotube shocks or ES9000 shock absorbers to deliver factory ride quality. The 2.5-inch lift allows the use of 35x12.50 tires on wheels up to 9 inches wide with up to 4.75 inches of backspacing.
Contact: Pro Comp, 800/776-0767, procompusa.com

Rough Country Premium 2.5-inch JK
At a mind-numbing $349.95, Rough Country's Premium 2.5-inch JK lift includes a pair of all-steel front and rear coil spring spacers, front and rear brake line brackets, rear track bar bracket and sway bar links, and Rough Country's premium 2.2 shocks featuring a 41.4mm piston, monotube body, and integrated jounce bumper. The system allows the JK to cleanly swallow 33s or run 35s with minor rubbing.
Contact: Rough Country, 800/915-1999, roughcountry.com

Rubicon Express 2-inch XJ
Rubicon Express has versions of its XJ Cherokee budget boost with either rear lift blocks or add-a-leafs. The RE6160 system for $259.95 includes front polyurethane spacers, rear add-a-leafs, new rear spring centerpins, four new shocks, and an extended rear brake line that will allow up to 30x9.50 tires without rubbing.
Contact: Rubicon Express, 877/493-8697, rubiconexpress.com

Rugged Ridge 2-inch TJ
For $336.99, you can fit 32x11.50 tires on your TJ with Rugged Ridge's 2-inch ORV poly spacer lift kit. The lift includes front and rear polyurethane lift spacers, dropped bumpstop extensions, longer shocks, and hardware required for installation.
Contact: Rugged Ridge, 770/614-6101, omix-ada.com

Trail Master 5-inch JK
Yeah, we admit this Trail Master suspension including replacement 5-inch-lift coils is beyond the realm of just a suspension boost. At that lift height, you'll have to do steering, track bar, and driveline corrections. However, at $583.99 for new coils, shocks, dropped bumpstop brackets, sway bar end links, and track bar brackets, if that price was a dinosaur, it would be an Insaneasuaras-Rex.
Contact: Trail Master Suspension, 928/636-7080, p-a-g.net

Trail Master 5-inch JK
Yeah, we admit this Trail Master suspension including replacement 5-inch-lift coils is beyond the realm of just a suspension boost. At that lift height, you'll have to do steering, track bar, and driveline corrections. However, at $583.99 for new coils, shocks, dropped bumpstop brackets, sway bar end links, and track bar brackets, if that price was a dinosaur, it would be an Insaneasuaras-Rex.
Contact: Trail Master Suspension, 928/636-7080, p-a-g.net

BDS Suspension 2-inch WK
The '05-'10 Grand Cherokee WK represents a whole new level of comfort and drivability, but at some compromise to off-road obstacle clearance. BDS has a simple all-steel suspension boost for the Grand featuring new front strut mounts that add a bit of preload and relocate the strut to deliver a 2-inch lift up front. Out back, a new steel upper coil mount bumps the rear height up 1.5-inch to allow the fitment of 30x9.50-size 245/70R16 or 225/70R17 tires.
Contact: BDS Suspension, 800/637-3303, bds-suspension.com

Black Mountain Suspension 2-inch TJ
Black Mountain's 2-inch budget boost for '97-'04 Wranglers (PN 650S) includes front and rear coil spacers, dropped bumpstops, shocks, and installation hardware for $199. The company also offers the same kit without shocks (PN BM650) for a mere $99.
Contact: Black Mountain Suspension, 800/699-5337, collinsbrosjeep.com

Daystar 13/4-inch JK
Daystar's 13/4-inch lift starts with exact-fit polyurethane coil spring spacers that are positioned above the factory coil springs. The spacers provide extra insulating properties to the suspension that minimizes unwanted noise, vibration, and harmonics. Daystar addresses compression travel with extended-length polyurethane bumpstops front and rear, as well as rear sway bar spacers to avoid bar-to-exhaust interference. The system will work with the factory shock absorbers, or longer shocks can be purchased to restore extension travel, all for $159.95.
Contact: Daystar, 800/595-7659, daystarweb.com

Performance Accessories 4-inch JK
Performance Accessories Premium Lift Systems combines a body lift kit with a coil spring leveling kit for a total of 4 inches of lift for Jeep Wrangler JKs. For just $219.99, the system gives you reinforced nylon body blocks, front spring spacers and a CNC-machined steering extension, as well as a set of Performance Accessories urethane Gap Guards to cover the space between the frame and body. Yep, you can run 35s on your JK for not much more than $200.
Contact: Performance Accessories, 928/636-7080, p-a-g.net

Rough Country 1.5-inch XJ
Rough Country's 1.5-inch XJ budget boost for '84-'01 Jeep Cherokees makes use of polyurethane coil spacers up front and longer adjustable lift shackles out back that keep the factory silky-smooth ride. A quartet of Rough Country twin-tube shocks and shackle hardware is included in the $249.95 price. With the 1.5-inch change in altitude, you'll be able to swing 235/75R15 or 30x9.50R15 tires under your XJ.
Contact: Rough Country, 800/915-1999, roughcountry.com

Rubicon Express
2-inch WJ
The RE8530 suspension system is for those looking to gain a quick 2 inches of lift for just $369.95. Adding just 2 inches of lift will provide more clearance for larger tires and help increase the flexibility of your WJ's suspension while maintaining the factory WJ ride quality. The 2-inch Budget Boost is simple to install-just fit the 2-inch coil spring spacers in place and install the new Rubicon twin-tube precision-valved shocks at each corner.
Contact: Rubicon Express, 877/493-8697, rubiconexpress.com

Readylift 3-inch JK
Readylift calls this its SST Hybrid Lift Kit System for JK Wranglers. At $439.95 it includes all the components necessary to lift the JK 3 inches in the front and 2 inches in the rear while retaining the factory springs, shocks, and steering components. The SST system includes powdercoated steel front and rear spring spacers, shock extension brackets, rear track bar bracket, rear brake line extension brackets, cam alignment bolts, and all necessary hardware for installation. The system allows the use of 35-inch tires on a JK.
Contact: Readylift, 877/759-9991, readylift.com

Rugged Ridge 2-inch WJ
The '99-'04 WJ Grand Cherokee was the last of the really good solid-axle luxo-Jeeps, and in our opinion, one of the best riding to boot. To retain the cush factory springs, Rugged Ridge offers its ORV 2-inch polyurethane coil spacer lift for $319.95; it includes new, longer shocks and allows fitment of 30x9.50-size 245/70R16 or 225/70R17 tires.
Contact: Rugged Ridge, 770/614-6101, omix-ada.com

Skyjacker 4-5-inch JK
Okay, Skyjacker slipped one past us, since this lift isn't technically a budget boost. However, at $599 with front and rear springs, four shocks, front and rear track bar reinforcement brackets and braces, adjustable cam bolts, front bumpstop spacers, rear bumpstop brackets, and rear extended sway bar end links, it's probably one of the less expensive ways to put a new suspension for 37-inch tires under your JK Wrangler.
Contact: Skyjacker, 318/388-8016, skyjacker.com

Zone Offroad Products 2-inch TJ
If you want to squeeze those 32x11.50s under your TJ and you've only got $229.75 with which to do it, Zone Offroad Products has a 2-inch polyurethane spacer lift for '97-'06 Wranglers that will get the job done. The kit includes front and rear poly spacers, dropped bumpstops, font and rear shocks, and installation hardware. Zone recommends using its front cam bolts (PN J5311) for pinion adjustment if your Wrangler didn't come with them from the factory.
Contact: Zone Offroad Products, 888/988-ZONE, zoneoffroad.com

Height Fight
Gonna lift your Jeep? There's no free lunch. Every modification you make that changes your Jeep's suspension geometry will have some adverse affect on the steering, handling, or driveline smoothness. Just accept it. Here are a few things to consider when adding a common 2-inch budget boost to these models.

JK
Usual Method: 2-inch poly, steel, or aluminum coil spacers.

Suspension: At 2 inches of lift, the factory shocks will be close to their extended travel limit and will top out when the suspension drops. Either plan on adding shock relocation brackets or longer shocks to compensate. Likewise, dropped bumpstops may be necessary to keep longer shocks from bottoming at full suspension compression. Rear track bar relocation will prevent binding.

Brakes: Dropped brake hose brackets or longer lines recommended, but not really required, especially if factory shocks retained.

Steering: New linkage or front track bar components aren't required, but you will have to recenter the steering wheel. If you experience death wobble or wandering, try setting the toe-out to 3/8-inch and verify the front axle caster is at 5-6 degrees positive.

Driveshafts: You could experience some contact problems at full-droop due to the large diameter of the front driveshaft. Even at 2 inches of lift, the rear CV driveshaft may experience buzzing and increased wear on two-door models.

TJ

Usual Method: Poly, steel, or aluminum coil spring spacers.

Suspension: Factory shocks will top out at suspension droop. Longer shocks will help prevent this, but dropped bumpstops are needed to prevent the shocks bottoming. Stock track bar geometry will work.

Brakes: Dropped brake hose brackets or longer lines recommended, but not really required, especially if factory shocks retained.

Steering: Stock linkage and track bar are fine, but you'll need to set the toe and recenter the steering wheel.

Driveshafts: Front driveshaft shouldn't buzz. Rear pinion will need to be angled up slightly on Jeeps with the manual transmission by using cam bolts in the control arms, or T-case drop brackets must be installed with auto tranny.

YJ
Usual Method: Longer shackles or add-a-leaf.

Suspension: Most easy methods only garner 1-inch lift, so stock shocks and other components may be retained.

Brakes: Small amount of lift doesn't require any changes.

Steering: With or without track bars, only recentering of steering wheel required.

Driveshafts: Longer shackles automatically rotate pinion angles up. Add-a-leafs normally don't provide enough lift to require driveline modifications, but steel degree wedges or longer shackles can be utilized to alleviate driveline issues.

XJ
Usual Method: Poly spacer up front, lift blocks, add-a-leaf, or longer shackles in rear.

Suspension: The front shocks should be replaced to prevent topping and dropped bumpstops added to prevent longer shocks from bottoming.

Brakes: Front brake line relocation brackets or longer brake lines recommended, but not required; the rear should be dropped or replaced with a longer brake line.

Steering: Set the toe and recenter the steering wheel.

Driveshafts: Front will be fine, but you may notice a slight buzz from the rear driveshaft with the use of an add-a-leaf. This can be fixed by running small degree wedges on the rear spring packs. Lift blocks usually have built-in mounting angles to rotate rear pinion slightly, and longer rear shackles rotate rear pinion.

WJ/ZJ
Usual Method: Poly coil spacers.

Suspension: Rear track bar relocation bracket recommended on the ZJ and longer shocks or dropped shock mounts necessary to prevent shocks topping when suspension drops out.

Brakes: Brake line relocation brackets recommended.

Steering: Set the toe and recenter the steering wheel on ZJ, and recenter vsteering wheel on WJ. If death wobble or wander is present, check to ensure caster is set at 5-6 degrees positive.

Driveshafts: ZJ usually okay, but front CV shaft in '99-'00 WJs should be swapped out for factory '01-later U-joint/double cardan-style yokes and shaft for longevity. Otherwise, decreased front driveshaft life will result.

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