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Installing a JKU Budget Boost & 35-Inch Tires

If It Ain’t Broke

Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

No one can deny the impact that the Jeep Wrangler JK has had on the off-road world. It’s one convenient and capable package with enough room for the whole family. These vehicles have opened the door to more and more enthusiasts joining us on the trail, and that’s great for many reasons.

One question we’ve been asked more than once from a new JK owner is, “What should I do with my Jeep?” We say, “Take it four-wheeling!” Of course they mean what modifications should they make to their Jeep, and the truth is you don’t have to do anything to a JK to make it off-road well (especially a Rubicon). Sure, a few improvements can be made, but throwing thousands of dollars at the Jeep probably won’t make it much more capable if you never use it off-road. Chances are its limitations on the trails are based in the knowledge and experiences of its driver, who cannot buy those things from a catalog but rather has to earn them. As you use a Jeep off-road, it will let you know what parts need to be upgraded for what you use it for.

So when our buddy from college said he wanted to buy a new JKU, we were all for it. We told him exactly what we would do—keep it mild and use it. And while a fully loaded Rubicon is nice, you, we, and he can have lots of fun in a pretty basic JKU Sport without ever exceeding its capabilities. As he uses the Jeep (it’s also his daily driver) we can help him make improvements to the rig to do what he wants it to do much better than stock without adding any of the trendy junk that seems so common to the JK.

We did this with an eye towards spending cash where we would see the best improvements via quality components and keeping what good parts these Jeeps have from the factory in place. To that end, with a little help from our friend’s at American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), Spidertrax, and Nitto Tire, here is what we did to our buddy’s Jeep last weekend to make it more capable off-road without any compromises in on-road drivability. And as a bonus, it looks a whole lot better too!