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Installing AEV’s 2-inch Spacer Lift and Geometry Correction Brackets on a 2019 Jeep JL Wrangler

Improving the look and function of a late-model Wrangler for 33-inch BFG A-T tires

Christian HazelAuthor, Photographer

It's true, here at Four Wheeler we focus on real-world improvements that will allow you to take your 4x4 deep off the grid, but not everybody is interested in modifying and changing the ride characteristics of their Jeep Wrangler for hardcore off-roading.

It's not to say the AEV 2-inch spacer lift we're highlighting here isn't capable of doing hardcore trails. But given the company's other more exotic full suspension systems, the 2-inch spacer lift is a great way to clear room for bigger tires without changing any of the factory springs, shocks, or geometry. We installed the 2-inch spacer lift in an easy afternoon to increase the breakover angle for mild off-roading and to cleanly make room for some 33-inch-diameter 285/70R17 tires. AEV says this system can clear up to a 37-inch tire. We're thinking that's probably with Rubicon or aftermarket high-clearance flares, but for our base-model JL, had we wanted larger tires we could have cleanly fit 35s with no cutting or trimming.

Here's how the system came together to greatly improve the look of this late-model Wrangler while increasing tire clearance and improving the breakover angle to help keep the rockers and belly off moderate off-road obstacles.

 

What's in the Box

The AEV 2-inch spacer lift for JL Wranglers includes everything you need to boost your Jeep's height 2 inches to clear up to 37s and correct the speedometer for larger tires and/or different axle gears. The kit comes with front and rear coil spacers, raised front and rear bumptop spacers, new longer front sway bar links, extended front and rear shock brackets, hardware, detailed instructions, and AEV's easy-to-use ProCal SNAP speedometer recalibration module. The 2-inch coil spacer system from AEV retains your Wrangler's factory shocks and springs. so your load carrying capacity and ride quality remain stock, especially when the optional JL and Gladiator stamped geometry correction brackets are used. These brackets simply bolt to the frame with no cutting or drilling using the factory upper and lower control arm mounting points and relocate the front control arm mounts 2 inches lower to retain the factory control arm geometry. The result is a completely stock ride with no compromises.

AEV JL Wrangler 2-inch Spacer Lift Install - Rear

We started the installation on the rear, first chocking the front tires, supporting the frame on sturdy jackstands, and removing the rear tires. We used a floor jack to support the weight of the rear axle slightly and then loosened all four upper and lower control arm bolts to allow the suspension to drop with no restrictions.

We then loosened the rear track bar mounting hardware but left the rear track bar in place. Just loosen the nut enough that the track bar bolts can spin freely and prevent any binding as the rear suspension fully drops out. The goal is to get the rear coils out of their buckets, so leaving the track bar hardware tight will prevent this from happening.

We removed the bolts that hold the rear brake line bracket to the axle and then removed the rear shock lower hardware. There's no need to completely remove the shocks—just take out the bottom bolt and let them dangle out of the way. Then remove the lower sway bar bolts that hold the links to the axle housing.

With the brake brackets, shocks, and sway bar link bolts removed and the control arm and track bar hardware loosened but not removed, you can slowly lower the floor jack, allowing the rear axle to drop down until the rear coils unseat from their buckets enough to slide the coil away from the bucket and remove the factory rubber coil isolator.

The front and rear coil spacers are different. Make sure you don't grab the wrong one. The front spacers (left) have two locating pins, while the rear spacers (right) have a single pin.

We placed the rear coil spacer up into the bucket, making sure to index the locating pin into the hole in the frame bracket. The end of the coil wind will butt up against the spacer shoulder, so make sure you've got everything properly lined up before gently raising the axle back up with the floor jack just enough to keep things in place.

The rear extended bumpstop pads bolt to the factory axle's bumpstop pad with no drilling required. The supplied flat-head hardware features an OE-quality weather-resistant coating. Install the hardware and tighten the pads down, but don't go so tight you deform the Delrin material the block is made of.

Next you can bolt on the rear shock extension brackets using the supplied AEV hardware and then reinstall the shock lower mounts. Use the factory shock hardware here, but don't tighten anything down until the vehicle is back sitting on its own weight. Otherwise the bushings can bind.

Once both rear coil spacers, bumpstop extension pads, and the shocks are bolted back, you can reinstall the brake bracket hardware and reinstall the rear sway bar lower link hardware. Again, don't fully tighten anything until the vehicle is sitting on its own weight.

We gave the rear a good visual inspection to make sure everything was in place and correct before reinstalling the wheels, removing the jacks stands, and moving on to the front.

 

AEV JL Wrangler 2-inch Spacer Lift Install - Rear

The first thing you'll need to do after chocking the rear tires, supporting the front of the vehicle with jackstands under the frame, and removing the front tires is take off the heat shields that cover the upper control arm bushing at the frame. The exhaust snakes rather close to these, and the factory heat shields help protect the rubber control arm bushings.

Like the rear install, loosen but do not completely remove all the control arm and front track bar hardware to allow the front axle to fully drop down without binding.

The front sway bar links can be removed completely because the longer links supplied in the AEV 2-inch coil spacer system need to be installed. Keep the factory hardware.

Like the front, remove the lower shock mounting hardware and let the shocks dangle from their upper mounting hardware. There's no need to fully remove the shocks.

Remove the bolts retaining the front brake lines to the frame so the lines won't bind and/or snap when the front axle is lowered for the coil spacer install.

The central axle disconnect wiring needs to be addressed before the axle is lowered. We used a clip tool to free the harness from the motor housing and then unplugged the electrical connector from the motor and hung the harness safely up and out of the way.

With everything loosened, disconnected, or removed, the front axle can then be lowered with the floor jack until the coils unseat from the buckets. Unlike the rears, the bumpstop tube inside the front spring bucket prevents the spacer from easily being slid in place, so it's easiest to completely remove the front spring before the spacer is installed.

Again, like the rear, you'll need to first remove the rubber spring isolator from the upper coil bucket.

Don't forget to line up the two retaining pins with the bores in the upper coil bucket. The easiest way to remember which way things go is that the AEV logo should be clearly visible when the upper spacer installed correctly. Once the spacer is in place, slide the AEV bumpstop spacer inside the coil and then reinstall the coil in the vehicle.

The bumpstop spacer installs using the supplied M10 Allen head bolt and washer through the bumpstop. There's enough room between the axletube and coil bracket to install the nut. Like the rears, tighten the bumpstop spacer pad hardware good and tight, but not enough that you severely deform the material.

Once you've got the spacers properly installed and the coils oriented with their ends abutting the spring mounts on the axle pads, lift the axle gently enough to keep things in place. Install the shock brackets, shocks, and longer sway bar links, then reinstall the brake hardware. Here's where you'd be almost done if you weren't installing the geometry correction brackets.

 

AEV JL & Gladiator Stamped Geometry Correction Bracket Install

The AEV stamped geometry correction brackets lower the frame-side mounting point of the upper and lower control arms, lessening their operating angle closer to factory geometry for an improved post-lift ride and retention of factory performance characteristics.

We started on the passenger side of the vehicle, first completely removing the upper control arm from the vehicle and then disconnecting the lower from the frame. A bottle jack supported the axle so we could raise or lower it as needed. It's important to only install one side at a time to prevent the axle from flopping or falling out of position, potentially damaging lines, driveshaft, or other components.

The AEV stamped geometry correction brackets are precision-built and dropped right in place on the factory JL frame. They bolt on with no drilling using the factory lower and upper control arm frame mount locations.

There's an anti-crush sleeve that prevents the bracket from folding in on itself as the mounting hardware is tightened. Once the bracket is in position, gun the hardware down good and tight.

We first installed the lower control arm and then installed the upper back into the vehicle. There's hardly any binding when doing only one side at a time, but a medium-length pry bar can be helpful to tweak the pinion angle slightly to allow the upper control arm hardware to be installed through the axle-side mount for the upper control arm.

With both upper and lower control arms reinstalled on both sides, we gave the front suspension a good visual inspection to ensure we hadn't left anything out or forgotten a step, then we reinstalled the front tires and wheels, removed the jackstands, and placed the vehicle on its own weight. Once that was done, we went through all the control arm, shock, track bar, and other hardware and tightened it all down. Again, it's important to wait to tighten suspension bushings until the vehicle is on its own weight because otherwise you can bind or damage the factory bushings, not to mention ruin your ride quality and potential flex.

 

Finishing Touches

If you read the story we've already published on these AEV Borah DualSport wheels, you'll know they can be run as either a true beadlock or a DOT-legal conventional wheel.

We brought our wheels and 285/70R17 BFGoodrich A-T tires down to our local Off Road Warehouse in Escondido, California, where ace technician Justin Mitchell mounted and balanced them as conventional DOT-legal configuration.

We installed AEV's beadlock rings to safeguard the wheel surface and add some additional beef, and if we ever do step up to 35s or 37s as this Jeep enters the next chapter of its life as a more off-road-oriented workhorse, we'll utilize the true beadlock feature the Borah DualSport offers.

We did some calculations with the new slightly larger BFG tires, and they're less than 5 percent taller than the factory tires that came on this vehicle, so we'll bank the AEV ProCal SNAP for a later day when larger tires or an axle ratio change requires a speedometer correction. Otherwise, we had to make a simple drag link adjustment to center the steering wheel for the additional lift height, but for the past 6 months this Jeep has been used every day as a daily driver or mild trail vehicle, and it's been towed behind a motorhome, with no degradation in ride quality, compromises in factory handling, or errant squeaks, groans, or drawbacks.

Sources:

BFGoodrich
Bfgoodrich.com

Off Road Warehouse
760.746.3193
Offroadwarehouse.com