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3-Day Wrangler TJ For $3K

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on April 1, 2012
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Photographers: Trenton McGee

It all started with a phone call from Editor Hazel.

Hazel: “Dude, didn’t you just score a nearly-stock TJ for $3,800?”

Me: “Yeah! It’s a ’97 with the 2.5L and A/C. Although, I think it needs a charge or a new compressor, ’cause the A/C doesn’t work. Besides, there’s only a bikini top and no doors. It’s been in Arizona most of its life. There’s almost no rust and it only has 100,000 miles. Why do you ask?”

Hazel: “I have this idea for a story series in Jp. I get a lot of emails from American combat soldiers overseas. Lots of ’em spend their idle time dreaming about wheeling when they’re home on leave. I put together parts lists for ’em that make sense based on their Jeep and budget. They order the parts over the Internet and have them shipped home. Sometimes their families or friends build the Jeep for ’em so they’re ready to go when they get back. Or they thrash-build their Jeeps themselves, go wheeling, and then head back to war. I wanna kick off the series with a TJ build representative of something these guys would want to emulate.”

Our four 32x11.50R15 Pro Comp MTs came from 4 Wheel Drive Hardware and add a little clearance under our TJ while providing much-improved traction off-road. We able to drive the TJ up areas of our local off-road area without airing down, where before our old dry-rotted all-terrain tires just spun and spit off chunks even when aired down. Simple, yet effective 15x8 Pro Comp Rock Crawler Series 52 wheels with 3.75 inches of backspacing (PN 52-5865) are strong and made right here in the USA.

Me: “You’ve got my attention. How do you want the story to go?”

Christian: “Well, it needs to be finished in no more than three days and it’s gotta use all bolt-on, mail-order parts that basically anyone could install. Oh, and these guys don’t have infinite funds. I want it done on a budget. Also, you gotta come up with a couple alternate build plans and it’s all gotta run part numbers and prices found on the web at press time.”

To fit our 32-inch tires and eke a bit more suspension travel on a budget we used a Rubicon Express 2-inch spacer lift with the optional upgraded mono-tube shocks (PN RE7030RXJ). For the install, it’s easier to remove the driver-side coil first because the track bar limits how far the passenger side will drop. With the driver-side spring removed, you can lift the driver side up with a jack to help get the passenger-side spring out, err, or in.

Me: “Sounds like a great idea to me!”

So whether you’re a combat soldier reading this in a hole somewhere dangerous or just a hard-working family man waiting for a tax return, Jp magazine is gonna lay out some simple three-day builds covering popular Jeep models that won’t break your bank account. This month we’re kicking the series off with the 3-Day TJ, but we’re planning similar treatments for the JK, YJ, XJ, and maybe even CJ.

PhotosView Slideshow
3 Day Tj For 3k build Budget Photo 36365890
3 Day Tj For 3k rock Build Budget Photo 36365878
3 Day Tj For 3k mud Build Budget Photo 36365887


Compton, CA 90220
Rubicon Express
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Denver, CO
4Wheel Drive Hardware
Santa Ana, CA 92705
G2 Axle & Gear
Compton, CA 90220
Pro Comp USA
Compton, CA 90220
Richmond Gear
Chicago, IL
Dana Corporation
Fort Wayne, IN 46801
Black Mountain
Riddler MFG

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