Modified 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon with 38-inch Tires and 5.13 Gears
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Most people baby their new vehicle for the first couple of years, trying to keep their significant investment in showroom condition for as long as they can. Even most off-road enthusiasts will wait until their 4x4 is paid off before they really start modifying it and taking it on tough trails. Rod Cole doesn't let things like payments and fresh paint stop him from using his Jeep for its intended purpose: exploring the backcountry and conquering challenging terrain. In fact, Rod seems to be determined to wear all the new off of his 2018 JL as quickly as possible. He has already put his JL though some hard use, and this is one of the main reasons we decided to feature his Jeep among the sea of late-model Jeeps that took part in the 2019 Dirt 'N Drive. It's not the flashiest Jeep out there, nor does it have the most accessories. It has only what's needed to handle rough terrain, and the result is a simple, proven formula that any JL owner can follow.
As you might have guessed, Rod is no stranger to off-roading. Dirt 'N Drive was not his first rodeo, as he has used his JL to explore trails all over his home state of Arizona. Starting with a Rubicon was his first key ingredient, as it nets a 4:1 transfer case and Dana 44s with locking differentials. The drivetrain is mostly stock, with the exception of 5.13 gears in the differentials and an AFE intake, both of which help the Pentastar V-6 turn 38-inch Milestar Patagonia M/Ts without breaking much of a sweat. Rod wisely went with 38s rather than 40s in an effort to keep the Dana 44s alive. So far, the stock axles have survived the abuse. Room for those 38s comes via a combination of three-inch Eibach springs and shocks coupled with adjustable control arms from Rusty's Off-Road. The axles remain properly centered under the vehicle, thanks to Rusty's adjustable track bars. It's well known that the stock driveshafts don't live long operating at angles much greater than stock, so Rod preemptively installed 1350-series driveshafts from Adams to replace them. Knowing that the sheet metal would be put in harm's way, he added a set of Gen-Right aluminum rock sliders. Rusty's Off-Road bumpers stand guard at both ends, while a smattering of LED lighting helps visibility while night 'wheeling.
And that's pretty much it: Everything you need and nothing you don't. Rod experienced a trouble-free Dirt 'N Drive and subsequent trip on several Moab trails thanks in part to sticking with the KISS principle and using smart driving habits. Sometimes simplicity is best, and the impressive list of trails Rod had tackled with his JL should silence anyone who thinks you need more equipment to handle the rough stuff.
2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon
Engine: 3.6L V-6
Transmission: stock automatic
Transfer Case: stock
Front Axle: Dana 44, 5.13 gears, stock locker
Rear Axle: Dana 44, 5.13 gears, stock locker
Springs & Such: 2-inch eibach springs and shocks with Rusty's Off-Road control arms
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50-17 Milestar Patagonia M/Ts, 17x8.5 Walker Evans beadlock wheels
Lighting: Sierra LED light bars
Other Stuff: Adams AFE intake, 1350 driveshafts, Bartact seat covers, Trigger six-shooter, Gen-Right aluminum sliders, dual batteries