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JK Makeover: AEV Budget Lift

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on November 7, 2018
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With the introduction of the new Jeep JL Wrangler, we’re already starting to see more and more gently used Jeep JKs coming into the marketplace. By gently used, we mean the Wranglers that were not purchased, modified, and played with in the dirt; those Jeeps that have spent years living a mundane life, putting thousands of miles of pavement under their bellies. These are the most likely to be traded in soon or sold to get that “newest” Jeep.

Sometimes these can be the best finds; sometimes they’re not overpriced; and almost always, they’re not chopped up, welded, or drilled on anywhere. You can get good deals, but no matter what you pay, at least you’re not buying someone else’s bad choices. With that in mind, here’s a good place to start when you find that clean, used JK you’ve been looking for.

Don’t want to go crazy with lift? Just want enough to plus-size the tires up one notch or so and give you a little more ground clearance, articulation, and traction? Don’t want to spend $1,000-plus? The JK 2.0” Spacer Suspension System (PN AEVJK2SS) from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) provides 2 inches of lift at a price that’s much easier to digest. The system includes sets of front and rear polyurethane coil spacers, front and rear bumpstops, front and rear shock extension brackets, and brake line drop brackets. All necessary hardware as well as excellent installation instructions are part of the package.

The American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) JK 2.0” Spacer Suspension System includes front and rear polyurethane coil spacers, front and rear bumpstops, front and rear shock extension brackets, and brake line drop brackets. Some factory hardware is reused during the installation, but any new hardware required is supplied in the kit.

Using coil spacers and the factory coils means that you can maintain a great deal of the superior ride quality of your JK; the shock bracket extensions are designed for factory-spec shocks and don’t limit their travel. The really nice thing is that there’s no cutting or welding, so when that day comes (and for most Jeepers, it will), the move up to a more aggressive suspension build will be much easier. Although we used some pneumatic tools for expediency, this complete installation can be easily done with handtools during a day’s work in your garage.

With the Jeep’s frame supported on a lift and a jack securing the axle at the center (use jackstands and a floor jack at home), we began with the rearend because it was easier. The control arm bolts and track bar hardware were loosened (not removed), and the brake lines were loosened from the frame. The shocks were then removed. Save all the factory hardware; you will reuse it.
Once the lower ends of the rear antisway bar endlinks were disconnected, we lowered the rear axle enough to allow the rear coil springs to easily be removed. Jp Pro Tip: When lowering the axles to remove the springs, be careful to NOT overextend the wheel speed sensor (or locker, if your Jeep has one in the rear axle) wiring.
With the rear coil springs out of the Jeep, the factory spring isolator can be simply popped off the top of the coil, and replaced with the new AEV Spring Spacer. Note the difference in the factory and AEV coil spacer heights.
New AEV Spring Spacer
Next we installed the new AEV Bump Stop Spacers on top of the factory rear axle’s bumpstop brackets. Jp Pro Tip: Be sure to install the new spacers in the illustrated orientation; doing it backward will misalign the bumpstop.
Reinstalling the rear shock absorbers was a simple matter of using the factory hardware at the bottom and the kit-supplied upper shock spacers, washers, and bolts. Per AEV installation instructions, these were tightened to 37 lb-ft.
We made sure the new AEV Spring Spacers and the factory coils were properly seated in the upper coil bucket as the axle was raised slowly. The lower sway bar links and rear brake lines were reinstalled.
Moving to the frontend, we loosened (not removed) control arm bolts and the frame-side track bar bolt. The axle-side track bar bolt and flag nut were removed and saved for reuse later. Sway bar endlink lower bolts and shocks were removed, and hardware was saved. Then we lowered the axle enough to loosen and remove the rear coils. Do not remove the factory spring isolator.
A 3/8-inch-diameter hole was drilled in the center of the front axle’s bumpstop pads to accept the new AEV bumpstops.
The new AEV bumpstop spacers were installed on the axle’s bumpstop pads using the kit-supplied bumpstop spacer hardware.
Keeping the factory coil isolator in place, the new AEV front spring spacers were pushed into place in the upper coil buckets.
By lowering the jack under the front axle, we were able to open up enough room to slide the factory front coil springs back into place over the new AEV bumpstop spacers and into the new AEV front spring spacers. We made sure the coils were properly indexed on the lower spring seat.
New AEV lower sway bar mount brackets were bolted into place, and the sway bar endlinks reconnected to the new raised bracket.
Shock extension brackets supplied in the AEV kit were fastened into place between the factory lower shock bracket and the shock’s lower eye. The shock’s upper mount was also secured at this point.
AEV kit-supplied front brake line drop brackets (for 2007-2010 model year Jeep JKs) were installed to relocate the positioning of the hard lines coming down along the frame to the front wheels.
Before
The AEV 2.0” Spacer Suspension System allowed the mounting of better and bigger off-road–capable LT285/70R17 Falken Wildpeak A/T tires wrapped around gorgeous 17-inch Method Race Wheels MR308 Roost Bronze wheels. Just a little lift created a remarkable difference in the look and performance of this Jeep JK.

Sources

Falken Tire
800-723-2553
http://www.falkentire.com
American Expedition Vehicles
Commerce Twp, MI 48390
248-926-0256
www.aev-conversions.com
Method Race Wheels
866-779-8604
http://www.methodracewheels.com

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