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Modifying The New Jeep JK - Catching Up (with Katie)

Upgrading Your Jeep

Levi JansmaPhotographerKatie JansmaWriter

These past few months, I have been slowly building my ‘12 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Between a 3.5-inch MetalCloak lift, Synergy axle assurance kit, Poison Spyder wheel spacers and differential covers, this Jeep received a sexy new look. I’ll start with the kick-ass MetalCloak lift then work my way to through the rest.

The MetalCloak lift I purchased is the 3.5-inch Dual-Rate. It showed up in seven or eight boxes! There was enough bubble wrap to tempt us old people into looking like kids. It didn’t help that my daughters took off with it. They were popping, giggling, and carrying on until we all had to join in. The only downside to this lift was that the instructions are unclear. They are pretty scrambled.

Other than that, I would buy it again. I made way to my in-laws for a flat garage floor. With the Unlimited over there, it took us the whole weekend to get it installed. Once we figured out all the parts and pieces, we spent about 15 hours lifting the Jeep. To be fair, four to five hours of it was spent welding on the C-gussets. We could have knocked it out in a day, but you can’t really work on hot metal, and I wasn’t looking to get any custom branding.

I found the MetalCloak kit to offer a smooth ride. To me, it felt smoother now than it was in stock trim. For our daily driver, it was worth the money. If you are going to buy a suspension kit for a JK, or any Jeep for that matter, spend the cash to buy exactly what you need. Don’t go cheap on it! In the end, you may just end up spending more hard-earned dinero on that “affordable” system just to get it up to par. Yes, I have personally paid my stupid tax doing just this on my previous ’07 Wrangler. I had more invested into trying to correct death wobble and other poor manners than I care to admit. It never really performed like I had hoped either.

Let’s get to the rest of my lovely goodies. I put Synergy axle sleeves in the front housing. This was one of the first things I wanted for this jeep. For those that don’t know about my old red JK, it was happy, always smiling at everyone it met. Whether it was weight of the tires, the trails I choose, or my heavy foot, I bent that front axlehousing. I made sure to nip that problem in the butt with this new Jeep.

A wise man once told me that if your sleeve wiggles at all inside the tube, you may end up creating further problems down the trail and you’ll want to spend awhile with the business end of a hammer. Mine fit amazing. Then it was time to get that baby welded up. It took about three hours to finish both sides.

I also received some wheel spacers from Poison Spyder in black (of course), to continue use of stock wheels a little longer. I caved and got their Bombshell covers to replace my factory tinfoil thick differential covers. A little more meat in the right places is never a bad idea. Another hour was spent on the differential cover installation. About a month later when I had to tear into it all again and replace an inner axle seal, the sleeves made removal of the seal a bit more challenging.

This is pretty much my lightly built rig. We have had it out all over western Colorado and eastern Utah, including a few trips to Moab. The Jeep has worked flawlessly. Although some longer shocks are in order, I won’t be doing much more to it—well, beside some 35-inch tires. A girl always needs some new shoes.