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January 2011 Techline

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on January 1, 2011
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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.

Low-Buck Fix for Chevy "Two-Speed" Transmission?
I have a '96 Chevy Silverado Z71 with the 5.7L V8. It has quite a few miles on it, 208,000 to be exact. About a month or so ago, I started having some trouble with my transmission. It would act like it would come out of gear when I would lift my foot off of the gas. A few weeks later, the problem went away and it seemed to be acting just fine. Then, within the next week, I was messing around on the highway and I blew out Third, Fourth and Overdrive gears, so for the past month, I've been driving side roads using only First and Second gears by shifting manually. (It's an automatic.)

Most people I talk to say I should get it rebuilt, which I hear can be very expensive. I'm 16 years old and I'm a bag boy at Ingle's, so you know I don't get paid near enough to fix my truck, especially with paying about $50 or more a week for gas. What do you think I should do on my very slim budget?

I just got done reading your April 2010 issue about how ya'll swapped transmissions in a '97 Suburban. I've heard that my truck has a 700R4 trans, but now I'm starting to think it has the 4L60-E after reading this article. I'm afraid that one of these days my poor old truck is going to drop me and my girlfriend on the side of the road.
Michael Bustle
Asheville, NC

I hate to tell you this, but I am sure you have already figured it out. Your transmission most likely is a dead player, so hopefully your girlfriend has some wheels or you have parents who are willing to share the family car with you. Your only choice is to have it rebuilt. On your way home from school, stop by one of the many transmission shops in Asheville, and get the service writer's opinion and a ballpark estimate of what it will cost to rebuild. They won't charge you anything-or shouldn't, for a quick test. Well, maybe they will if they do a full diagnostic test, but they'll usually waive the cost if they rebuild the trans. You might get a price from several different shops, but be sure you're real clear on what you will be getting exactly.

You do have another choice. Go to the city library, get a service manual, and follow the instructions in it for removing your transmission. Get your buddies together, rent a transmission jack, order a pizza and take the transmission out. Be sure to figure out a way to flush out the transmission cooler, which is in the radiator, as well as all the lines. I would recommend putting a filter on the return fluid line just to make sure you don't put any junk from the damaged trans into the replacement. Replace the transmission with one from a wrecking yard, along with the torque converter. Yep, it's a gamble trying to get a good one, so try to find one in a vehicle with low miles on it-or maybe you can get lucky in your wrecking yard search, and find one that has been rebuilt. A clue as to whether or not a transmission has been rebuilt is that trans shops usually paint the transmission housing a strange color so that they can identify their transmissions. Most wrecking yards will guarantee that the trans will work or will replace it with another one, so don't be shy about asking for some type of a guarantee. Oh, and your trans is a 4L60-E, which basically means it's really similar to a 700R4, but the shifts are controlled by a computer.

Where To Write
Address all correspondence to: Techline Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. You can also reach us by e-mail at; be sure to type the words "Tech Line" in the subject line. All submissions become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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