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How to Install a Jeep Wrangler JK 2.5-Inch Lift and 35-Inch Tires

Anatomy of a JK that’s built with products that solve problems.

Lifted JK Wranglers with big tires are everywhere. So much so, they seldom invite a glance from Jeepers anymore. This Gobi tan-colored '17 Jeep Wrangler isn't one of them. It deserves not only a second look but a close inspection.

Built to be a competent backcountry explorer as well as a daily driver running (only) 35-inch tires, this Jeep is not a "budget build." The JK has been beefed by using some of the best aftermarket parts available today.

Read on to see what parts were used and why this Jeep is second-glance worthy.

Jeremy Thompson, owner of Eminence Off-Road in Washington, Utah, went right to work installing the Jeep's suspension and steering components. Thompson knows how to make 4x4s work.

TeraFlex 2.5-inch linear coil springs, 2.5-inch progressive bumpstop kit, and Falcon Series 3.3 Fast Adjust Piggyback shock absorbers were chosen because of their quality and the way they work. The Falcon shocks feature a three-position Fast Adjust Knob to change the damping settings, while the middle setting has an eight-position micro adjust dial for more precise tuning between soft and firm. RockJock by John Currie's Antirock sway bars feature forged chromoly sway bar arms and billet aluminum frame brackets. JK Unlimited-application Antirock arms were chosen for more stability on-road.

RockJock billet aluminum lower control arms are constructed of CNC-machined billet 6061-T6. The skidplates, made from 4130 chromoly, simply bolt on so they can be replaced if they're damaged. The arms are double-adjustable via right-hand/left-hand 1 1/4-inch-thread Johnny Joint rod ends and Grade 8 pinch bolts at each end. The RockJock Johnny Joint upper control arms are aluminum and double-adjustable, too. All the control arms are adjustable on the Jeep.

Even when the JK's ABS, ESC, and traction control are defeated with the OE switch, they're never completely shut down. This can cause problems, for example when you're in the backcountry at the bottom of a sand dune you have to climb in order to get home. Thompson installed this switch that completely defeats all the electronic nannies. Once the switch is turned off and the ignition key cycled, it all goes back to normal OEM functions.

Odyssey Extreme Series batteries employ dry cell Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology to contain acid, allowing the battery to be installed even on its side. Even at very low temperatures, Odyssey Extreme Series batteries have the power to provide engine-cranking pulses in excess of 2,250 amps for 5 seconds—double to triple that of equally sized conventional batteries. They can handle 400 charge/discharge cycles to 80 percent depth of discharge, making them outstanding batteries on vehicles with winches installed.

The ARB twin-motor air compressor on a MetalCloak mounting bracket and sPOD Source power distribution box nestle perfectly under the JK's hood. The sPOD makes installing electrical accessories, such as lights, compressors, radios, and so on easy and clean.

sPOD's LED switch panel in the Jeep looks and works great.

A long day exploring is made easier with a comfortable interior. These Mopar hardtop insulation panels not only help control interior temperature extremes; they also quiet the interior down a bit.

Rugged Ridge accessories also upgrade the Wrangler's interior. Slush mats work well at keeping backcountry mud, rocks, and dirt at bay.

While the JK usually wears beadlock wheels, they're difficult to mount/dismount quickly when doing tire testing. We use Rugged Ridge's 17x9 Jesse Spade wheels that have 4.5 inches of backspacing and are hub-centric for tire testing duty.

The '12-and-later JK Wranglers have a brake vacuum pump mounted on the frame that needs to be relocated for most aftermarket bumper installations. If it's mounted under the hood, the pump can be heard cycling in the cab. EVO MFG's JK vacuum pump relocation bracket moves the pump back on the frame. No plumbing or wiring changes are needed.

Expedition One's Core Series bumper doesn't overpower the front of the Jeep, yet still has room for a large winch and foglights. The Jeep sports a Warn Zeon 10-S winch, Epic winch hook, Epic hawse fairlead, and Baja Designs Squadron Sport fog pocket LED lights. Baja Designs Squadron Pro off-road LED lights provide additional nighttime illumination (4,900 lumens each) and have interchangeable lenses for driving, cornering, spot, or pencil beam configuration. Jeep/Mopar LED headlights are a big improvement over stock. Daystar Hood Wranglers keep the hood from bouncing up and down on the interstate.

Rocker guards from Expedition One provide rock protection and a step.

A TeraFlex JK Alpha HD hinged spare tire carrier and Alpha HD adjustable spare tire mounting kit reinforce the JK tailgate hinge and carry the 35-inch spare with no rattles or issues. TeraFlex's accessory bracket allows a 2-gallon RotopaX container to be cleanly carried.

Brian Hartman and Austin Stobaugh at Carbon Off Road are seen here assembling the JK's Carbon/Currie RockJock 44 front end. The company does more than bolt in parts and set up the gears. The housings sometimes need the oil passages to be cleaned up, as this one did. Hartman quickly ground away some casting residue, ensuring smooth oil flow. The gears set up perfectly.

JK Wrangler front housings are weak, and have been since day one. The best fix is to replace them with aftermarket housings. The Carbon/Currie RockJock 44 is much stronger than stock. This axle has Carbon Black 4.56 gears, an Eaton four-pinion ELocker4, Carbon axleshafts, Synergy ball joints, and a Carbon high-strength Ductile Iron diff cover. The heavy-duty RockJock Currectlync tie rod and drag link are also great improvements over stock. The RockJock adjustable Johnny Joint front track bar works on stock height or lifted Jeeps.

Carbon Off Road rebuilt the JK Dana 44 rearend with Carbon Black 4.56 gears, an Eaton four-pinion ELocker4, and a Carbon chromoly axleshaft kit. The rear RockJock Johnny Joint adjustable track bar also works on stock and lifted Jeeps. The Falcon shocks can be dragged over rocks with no harm, but we added TeraFlex aluminum skidplates for added protection.

A set of five 35x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 tires are mounted on Stealth Custom Series (SCS) K5 wheels with OMF Performance beadlocks, balanced by Hurricane Tire Pros. While SCS is well known in the Toyota and SxS markets for its quality wheels, the great-looking K5 is the company's first for Jeeps. The wheels feature a 5x5 bolt pattern, are hub-centric, and have 4.3-inch backspacing. SCS' quality is noticeable. OMF Performance offers a number of real beadlock ring styles. These wheels are fitted with OMF's Super Lite Drain Flush Mount rings so water won't collect behind them and the flush-mounted bolt heads are protected.

While at first glance this may appear to be just another JK Wrangler on 35-inch tires, it's balanced, sits well, and works off-road and on. It's certainly worth a close inspection.

Specifications
Vehicle: '17 Jeep Wrangler Sport S
Engine: Jeep 3.6L VVT V-6
Induction: MPFI
Transmission: WA580 5-spd automatic
Transfer case low range ratio: 2.72:1
Front end: Carbon/Currie RockJock Dana 44, Carbon axleshafts and diff cover, Synergy ball joints
Rear end: Jeep Dana 44, Carbon chromoly axleshafts
Ring and pinion: 4.56 Carbon Black gears
Front and rear differentials: Eaton four-pinion ELocker4
Suspension: TeraFlex 2.5-in coils, RockJock Johnny Joint adjustable control arms
Tires: 35x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3
Wheels/backspacing: 17x8.5 Stealth Custom Series (SCS) K5 w/4.3 inches of backspacing, OMF Performance beadlock (or 17x9 Jesse Spade w/4.5 inches of backspacing)