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Grand Stance: Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ Lift Kit

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

A V-8, multi-link coil suspension, leather interior, and four-wheel drive! Kinda sounds like a custom-built Jeep doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. So why have so many been saving up their change for a V-8 swap, four-link conversion, and fancy seating when it all came as factory-issue in the ’99-’04 WJ Grand Cherokee? Well, honestly we’re not sure.

Okay, even we will admit that the WJ looks kinda like a minivan, and you can’t fold the top down or easily remove the doors, but if you have ever driven a 4.7L-powered WJ on- or off-road you know what we are talking about. There are real reasons this vehicle won all kinds of automotive awards in its day. It offers tons of torque, a flexy suspension, and enough horsepower to induce four-wheel drifts. Yeehaw! But the best part is that these rigs just keep getting cheaper and cheaper to buy and the availability of aftermarket parts keeps expanding and expanding.

Clayton uses 2-inch, 0.250-wall square tubing for its lower control arms. Here is the front suspension laid out with Clayton’s new weld-in control arm mounts and T-case crossmember. Note the control arms are upside-down relative to the crossmember/mounts for illustration purposes. This kit changes our WJ’s front suspension from a four-link with a track bar to radius arms with a track bar.

If you’re a regular Jp reader you probably remember our blue and grey ’01 Laredo WJ. We threw 2-inch Daystar spacers and some select products from JKS at it to fit 245/75R16 tires on stock wheels (“Grand Stance,” Mar. ’11). In this form, it’s been a functional camping rig, capable climber on quick wheeling trips in the mountains of Arizona, and has even served hauling duties flat-towing our ’49 CJ-3A all over the Southwest. Not surprisingly, running 31-inch tires got a bit boring and “more’s law” took hold. To us, it’s simply natural evolution, so we whipped up a combination of parts we felt would work well and take our Grand to the next level. We planned on mooching some time in a fancy installation facility with a lift and nice tools to perform the transformation. That plan fell apart, so we did the deed in our side yard on our backs with a quartet of 12-ton Harbor Freight jackstands. So follow along as we install a Clayton Off Road 6-inch long-arm suspension, 33-inch General Grabbers, Summit Racing wheels, and Bilstein 5160 shocks the Jp way: at home. If we can do it, so can you!

The Clayton rear suspension changes our WJ from a three-link with a wishbone upper to a true triangulated four-link. Clayton uses 1⁄4-inch steel plate for all the mounting brackets and its links are fitted with Johnny Joints at one end for flex and Clevite rubber bushings at the other for vibration absorption. Bilstein 5160 series shocks are really neat because the piston is moved into the remote reservoir, allowing an extra 1 to 2 inches of uptravel over a normal shock with similar eye-to-eye measurements. The 5160s mount in the factory shock locations and they can be revalved if desired.
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grand Stance parts List Photo 36316858


General Tire
Charlotte, NC 28288
Summit Racing
Akron, OH
Poway, CA 92064
JKS Manufacturing
Alliance, NE 69301
Clayton Off Road Manufacturing

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