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Nuts & Bolts: Do-It-Yourself LCG Kit

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on September 17, 2019
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I'm in the process of piecing together an LCG kit for my 2003 Jeep Wrangler LJ. So far I have a set of 2-inch Synergy coil springs, some Teraflex track bars, and a steering kit I picked up on eBay. Is there anything else I should be looking to add? I was wondering if control arms should be part of the mix.
Scott A.

We're all about doing things on a budget, but we cringe a little when people start piecing together suspension components. We've had widely mixed results mixing-and-matching components among different brands and different lift heights, so we advise you to be cautious and be prepared to address a few unintended problems along the way.

On paper it would appear that a 2-inch coil spring for an LJ is the same regardless of what brand name is on it, and that a track bar is a track bar is a track bar for the same application. The truth is that each suspension manufacturer has a slightly different take and a slightly different approach to each and every component of a suspension kit. As an example, the clearance for the front track bar on a TJ, XJ, or LJ is actually really tight between the bar, the front axle, and the frame. The same thing can be said for steering systems. The clearances get easier in some places and trickier in others as you go up in lift height, so as a result, it's quite likely that a track bar designed to work with a 4-inch kit will have contact issues at 2 inches of lift. Or, there could be instances, especially with an LCG kit, where the suspension company makes small compromises with different components in order to obtain the necessary clearances. We've seen situations where they might cheat the caster on a front axle forward or back a degree or two in order to clear their track bar design, or vice versa. There may be nothing wrong with how one company does it versus another, but the point is that each suspension company designs their kit around their components and not someone else's. As a result, when you start mixing and matching different brands, you can expect to find these idiosyncrasies and their related problems in a variety of different ways.

Now back to your control arm question. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you may or may not need control arms. The beauty of LCG kits is that their conservative lift height doesn't radically change the factory geometry compared to taller lifts. As a result, you can get away with the stock control arm mounting points with the 2-inch Synergy coil springs. However, you will also be limited to the available travel and geometry available with either the factory control arms or the aftermarket bolt-in replacements. A true LCG kit combines the benefits of the increased suspension travel of a long-arm system with the stability of a conservative lift height. This sounds awesome on paper, but in reality it opens up a can of suspension geometry worms that is only made worse when you're trying to cram big tires under the fenders at the same time.

While we would encourage you to go down the road of keeping lift height conservative, even with the stock control arm configuration, having the benefits of a true LCG kit means making some control arm modifications. For the clearance reasons we've stated making those modifications happen is more challenging and expensive that taller kits, hence why LCG kits typically have a larger price tag.

At the end of the day, you may find yourself in a situation where you're potentially spending more to piece your own LCG kit together than you would have if you simply purchased a complete kit already engineered for the job. But people can and have made it work, so it boils down to your shrewdness in picking components and your ability to problem-solve.

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