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January 2011 Techline

Spacer Studs
Willie Worthy | Writer
Posted January 1, 2011

Spacer-Lifted TJ Rides Rough

Spacer-Lifted TJ Rides Rough
I have an '05 Wrangler TJ, completely stock except for the 2-inch spacer lift I put on, and the ride is pretty awful. I love my Jeep, but something has to be done about that ride. I've been looking at OME shocks and was wondering if they would be my best choice for the improvement I'm looking for. I found a set of four OMEs for $300 and just want to be sure that I'm going to have a nice smooth ride on- and off-road within that price point.
Chris Franca

I wouldn't think that just a 2-inch spacer lift would cause the vehicle to ride "pretty awful." The spacer did not change the spring rate. I guess it all has to do with what you have been used to in the past. I think that with the stock coil springs, they ride pretty darn nice.

Several things could cause the loss of ride quality. First, the spacers are pushing the suspension downward, which, in turn, changes the angle of the front axle's control arms from being somewhat level with the ground to pointing downward at an angle. This means that the front of the arm, where it mounts to the axle, is lower than the rear of the arm, where it mounts to the frame. When you hit a bump, the short swinging arc of the stock-length control arms has to force the axle forward as it goes upward. Without the spacer lift, in stock configuration, the front-axle control arms are parallel to the ground and to the frame. When you hit a bump, the front axle moves rearward as it moves upward.

If you're using the stock shocks, which I assume you are, then they have been extended by two inches over what the Jeep engineers designed them for, so you're losing two inches of downtravel-and yes, that can also affect ride quality. With a spacer lift, or a new coil-spring lift, the ride quality will not be the same as stock due to the control arm angle. That's why so-called "long-arm" suspension lifts are so popular. With longer control arms, the angle that they operate at is much reduced.

Will the Old Man Emu shocks make it ride better? Maybe, especially if you order the ones for a 2-inch spacer lift. But don't count on a vast improvement. Just keep in mind, you're driving a Jeep.

How Much Shock Travel for Lifted 2500HD?
I recently bought an '09 GMC 2500HD and plan on putting a 4- to 6-inch lift on it. My question is about shocks. I plan on a heavier bumper (for the deer in this area), a winch, and coilover reservoir shocks (for the extra flex and the weight of the winch and bumper). What should I look for as far as shock travel length and spring rates? I use it for getting firewood, and some of the places I take it get pretty hairy (the reason for the extra flex, keeping as much weight on the ground as I can). I also plan on a Fab Fours rear bumper.
Terril Hansey

Shock length is very dependent on the amount of lift you use, as well as the manufacturer of the lift kit and how they mount the shocks. Your first step in the decision-making process is to contact the lift kit manufacturer of choice and talk to someone in their technical department and ask them for suggestions. Be sure to tell them about your concerns of the added weight of a winch and heavy bumper. If they can't really give you a quality answer, then try another company.

One thing for sure is that all lifts are not created equal, and some companies have better tech support than others. However, generally speaking, they do want to help you become a satisfied customer. If you look at the company's website, you may even find the answer or at least a phone number to call and ask questions. Your statement about wanting to use coilover shocks has me kind of confused. Are you talking about a suspension system that eliminates the torsion-bar setup and uses a special coilover shock suspension system, or do you want to use a coilover shock in conjunction with the torsion-bar suspension? Either way, you need to start contacting the various suspension companies and, as I said, let them walk you through just what you will need.

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