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What I Have - What I Want to Do - Opinions needed

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Old 01-05-2018, 05:06 AM
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Default What I Have - What I Want to Do - Opinions needed

A few months ago I purchased a 2015 JKU Sport, which had some mods done to it. Small lift, Teraflex VSS shocks, Smittybilt XRC front/rear bumper, Superwinch 9500TS, LED lighting, Sahara rims, 1" spacers with Toyo 33x12.50r18 M/Ts. After a few trips to the local Jeep shop and posts/feedback here, I have learned quite a bit. Some of the original advice from November was to install a raised rear track bar bracket, and possibly new control arms to correct the low caster (3.6*). nthinuf thinks the lift is a TF budget boost based on pics I posted, and resharp001 suggested measuring the lift height and provided stock front suspension dimensions.

I installed the track bar bracket last weekend and started talking about control arms with the local mechanic. I was planning on new adjustable arms all around, but more advice here said fronts are all that I will really need to correct the caster. I was planning on going after work today to have the mechanic order some for me.

When I got home yesterday I was able to measure the front lift height. Although I can see a spacer in the rear coils I could never see one in the front, although the link on TF shows front spacers in their budget boost kit. The spring sits on metal both top and bottom. My measurements show that the front has only 1" of lift above stock dimensions, and I know the spacers in the rear at not 2", as shown in the TF kit (https://teraflex.com/shop_items/528f...d962f416e72d53) but more like 1" tall. Is it possible to have just a leveling kit using taller springs up front and a rear spacer? I always assumed because the shocks were changed out that it was a kit.

Eventually, I would like a 2.5-3" lift, with 35s, and will probably replace the rims at the same time. I'd really like 37s, but I want to drive something with them before I go that route to see what the acceleration/braking loss is. The current 33s are relatively new, so new tires are at least a year away. I also want the stock fenders to remain. This is a daily driver, with a lot of highway miles, but I'm an agricultural appraiser and end up in orange groves, pastures, farms and timber areas, where I need ground clearance (I understand tires are the best way to increase clearance - hence 35s in the future) and end up going over a lot of ruts, holes, etc.

My immediate need is the adjustable control arms to correct the caster. I drove a friend's Rubi with a Rock Krawler 3" lift, and it doesn't seem to float like mine does, which he said is from the increased caster angle. My cost is about $500 and some beer for the install for front upper and lower Rock Krawler arms. Now seeing that there is very little actual lift, I was considering having new front/rear coils and probably bump stops installed as well, for a total cost of just under $1,000. Is this a good option, or is it better to go with an entire kit, which is designed together? Depending on the brand, I'm seeing kits in the $1000 - $1500 range, with adjustable front lower control arms. I can't justify spending more than that for the limited off-road use that I'll see.

By going with new front arms, coils and bump stops, am I missing anything, or is it the wrong direction for the long-term? It looks like some kits include rear brake line extensions and raised rear track bar bracket (which I already have), but I read some require an exhaust spacer as well. I'm ready to spend some money, but don't want to waste it.

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Old 01-05-2018, 08:01 AM
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I would note that there is nothing wrong piecing things together vs. buying an entire kit. Reminds me of the old Wendy’s chicken sandwhich commercials “parts is parts”…lol. If you understand why certain parts are necessary, and what they accomplish, the brand of the component is all personal opinion. You can have brand X control arms, brand Y track bar, brand Z springs. As long as you have addressed everything necessary, it will be just fine.

Also, if you’re not going to get any real offroad benefits from aftermarket control arms, you could add some control arm brackets which would be much more budget friendly. You lose a little clearance, but it sounds like that’s not a big issue for your intended use. The important thing is that the caster angle is correct one way or another. Adjustable arms really allow you to dial that in where you want it whereas brackets offer just a couple different mounting settings, but they work fine for many people’s needs.

I would say that if you’ve only got 1” of net lift in the front, your caster is a little low, but probably not as terrible as most put up with. I’d guess if you got an alignment you’d see ~3.7* or so (factory being 4.2*). Get that caster back over 4* and you should notice some difference in handling.

Building for 33s, 35s, or 37s is all pretty much the same. 37s could require a little pinch seam trimming. The biggest thing to pay attention to is backspacing when selecting a wheel. 4.5” backspacing is fine for 33s/35s, but for 37s you’d really want 3.5” or else you’ll need to run spacers. When you get to the point of buying rims, just take everything in to consideration so you buy the proper wheel that allows for you to grow if that is the intent. The other big difference tires are gonna bring are decreased performance. The bigger you go, the more sluggish the jeep will become. If you want 37s down the line, you’re gonna be looking at a re-gear job at some point.

My thoughts are kinda scattered, but I’d also note that 3"+ of lift is pretty aggressive, moreso than a lot of people think. The higher you go, the more attention you need to pay to additional things. For example, 3+” is getting you in to territory you need to start thinking about drive shafts and high steer kits. Keep in mind that you will usually net more lift than the stated number as well….depending on manufacturer of the springs. You could put 2.5” springs on and easily net 3-3.5” of actual lift. 3.5” spring could net 4 – 4.5” lift. It all just depends on mods you have and the weight of your jeep. Not to throw water on the fire, but a $1k budget for a 3” or more lift isn’t going to leave you very happy. Bigger tires will wear your steering components, so don’t forget to budget for things like tie rods, ball joints, and drag link. That is where a lot of people forget to budget.

I think if I were you, and you really wanted to lift it, I would just get some geo brackets for now. You can add them with the current set up to fix your caster, and then when you do get around to adding springs, you can use different mounting whole to readjust your caster again. Using brackets instead of buying control arms would save you ~$350 – $400 or so. When you’re working on a tight budget, that is huge amount that could be put in to different components.
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Old 01-05-2018, 01:15 PM
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If you look on Teraflex's website, you will see that their coil spacers come in a variety of heights. The very noticeable feature of their rear spacers is the long prongs hanging down that help keep the coils seated. (if I recall correctly, that is what I pointed out?) I don't think there was a way for us to tell, from the pics, what size lift was involved. With a caster of 3.6 rather than the stock 4.2 +/-, we know that you do have some extra lift, but that it was a 2.5" BB was a guess based on what was said, and what could be seen or infered. Since you don't see spacers up front, maybe it is 1.5" coils and 1" spacers in back? (I think they introduced this as a 'performance levelling kit' at one time?) Hard to tell from a few pics.

If you want both sets of arms up front, go for it. If you still want all four sets of arms - it's your money, not ours. But as noted in the last thread, all you need to adjust the caster for a short lift is a single set of front arms (upper or lower, but lowers are preferred), or a set of brackets. Either would work perfectly fine.

New coils? Up to you. Completely new lift? Again, your money, decide how you want to spend it. Just remember what was suggested about researching the 'expected' actual lift heights from various mfg's coils. The higher you end up, the more components you will end up adding.

Additional parts? Brake lines can be unhooked, or 5 to 10 bucks at the hardware store to make some brackets. If you end up taller and want to go to longer lines in the future, you'll have time. You want the swaybars to stay roughly parallel to the frame/ground - not angled down! So plan on longer links for the rear, and front disconnects are not a bad choice. Bumpstops will depend on clearance (lift height, tire height and width, flare choice, rim backspacing, etc) Hard to give a guess there at this point. If you end up much over 3", you will want to consider adj trackbars at both ends, and a draglink flip up front. Newer models, an exhaust spacer is wanted for clearance. As the height increases, it is more likely to wear through the boot at the tcase end of the front shaft. When that happens, you will need to decide what you want to do about it.

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Old 01-05-2018, 02:58 PM
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Thanks to both of you. I was researching brackets and it seems that they are based on lift height, with the lowest I'm seeing is 2.5". Would it be alright to install those with a smaller lift? It also looks like most are adjustable, so if I chose taller coils when I do new tires, then they can still be used instead of adjustable arms?

Not knowing much at this point, I hate to spend money and end up throwing it away later. Also, I don't want to overdo something and end up having to spend more money to correct a problem I create.

I believe you're correct with the 1.5" coils and rear spacer. I was told by the dealer 2.5" lift, but they didn't install it, so I don't think they knew anything more than just a quick visual inspection. I like the look of a larger lift and was thinking that building it up in steps would prepare for larger tires next year. I'll keep researching and see what's going to work best.
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Old 01-05-2018, 04:12 PM
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The 2.5" holes on the brackets will not be a problem until you get around to new coils. Many people shoot for the 5* range after a lift install, the higher caster will make the steering feel a bit tighter. Not like the loose/flighty feeling of low caster. (the caveat to this is for taller lifts -too much caster, combined with a tall lift, can cause bad angles on the driveshaft joints, which can create lots of vibes. Not an issue in your situation, but worth mentioning.)

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Old 01-08-2018, 04:57 AM
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So I'm looking at new control arm brackets and Northridge has AEV ($105), Rubicon Express ($103), Rancho ($144) and JKS ($166). They all look pretty much the same (and a lot less hefty than I was expecting), with the JKS having only 2 holes, the AEV and RE with 3 holes and the Rancho with 4 holes. I assume that the Rancho would give me more adjustment positions. If I'm understanding correctly, then with my 1" lift now I would use one position, and these brackets will allow up to 4", depending on the hole used if I chose to increase the lift later. If I need to spend more I will, but would like to know the reason for the price difference. Any others that I should be looking at?

Several people have mentioned shocks. I have the Teraflex 9550 VSS (I assume the 2.5" lift size), which may be a lower end product? I see Bilstein 5100s mentioned, and they're only $10 more. What do I gain by going to a more expensive shock? Better ride? More articulation? Is there that much difference in what I have versus the Bilstein or a Fox 2.0? Then I assume by looking at the specifications that they are designed for a specific height of lift, but none are less than 1.5". I have 1" of lift, with the shocks on there being for 2.5". Does that present a problem?
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:10 AM
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Metal cloak has drop brackets too and some simple small lifts that are budget friendly. Generally if you are looking at moving to a 4" lift you are likely going to ditch the relocation brackets for a full blown set up. Personally if you only have 1" of actual lift you are not going to see a big improvement in ride with the brackets or control arms as your caster and wheel base are just not that far off. The 3.6 caster you mention is a head scratcher and seems low but I guess it could have come low from the factory. Is number from an actual alignment or a guess? Your tires are going to affect your ride more then anything else I see from your post with the 18" wheels and almost all 18" tires are E rated. What vehicle did you drive before getting the jeep?

The Teraflex shocks are a budget throw a way shock. The 5100's are shiny and people like shiny stuff. Going to the 5100 or fox 2.0 you should expect a stiffer ride with you feeling more bumps and imperfections in the road. Its hard to get a good read on shocks over a forum because the same shock will get totally different reviews from different people. Your driving style, tires, coils, vehicle weight, and lift height will all have an affect on the feel and performance of a shock. Without trying several different shocks you really cant tell which one works best on your jeep. Most people buy shocks based on look or brand not how they ride. Most shocks people buy today are throw a way as well meaning you cant change the valving or rebuild them. When they go bad you throw them away. Shocks that are rebuildable can last you a lifetime as long as you don't need to change the length but tend to cost a lot more then the 5100's and others you see. I would say shocks should be one of the last things you should be looking at in the overall set up. Cost generally has nothing to do with articulation as if you want to increase articulation you just buy the proper length that fits your suspension set up.

Figure out your overall plan, tire size lift, your excuse for lifting is poor and a jeep can run around a farm all day long in its stock form with maybe a simple tire upgrade. Most people want a lifted jeep for some reason and if it is for looks that is fine. Just do your research and learn what you need or you will be buying stuff over and over and you will be throwing a lot of money away. Also lifts add very little in terms of performance off road, this is a misnomer, while it will help with approach and decline angles as well as belly clearance, it typically increases the chance of roll over and if not properly done leads to a poor ride both on road and off.

Tires, proper gearing for tires, and lockers are going to be you biggest improvements. Unless you are racing the lift is an afterthought to fit the tires and should be as minimal as you can do to fit said tires because of the changes in suspension and steering geometry.
If you take a JKu with 35" C rated tires on a 17" wheel with 4.56-4.88 gears, selectable lockers, flat fenders, and a minimal lift (.75"-2") you will run most of the trails out there. You will run 98% of Moab without a sweat, tackle the Rubicon in a day and run around those farms for work.
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:29 PM
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Thanks, Dirtman. The caster figure is from the alignment that was done when I purchased it. It had a really bad wobble at highway speed, which turned out to be a tire out of balance, but they did an alignment anyway. Prior to this, I had a Cherokee Trailhawk, and an F-150 prior to that, but this is my 4th Wrangler over the years. My last was a 2011 JKU Sport, which was strictly stock.

I checked out MetalCloak and their products look pretty nice, and I like the explanations of what and why on their site.

As for shocks, I was hoping to find someone locally with a similar setup, but everyone around me is stock or heavily modded (4-6" lift, 37s, etc). The tires are E rated, and I've played with pressure a few times. They seem to like 32 cold/34-35 hot, but I haven't tried much lower. The dealer had them at 45 and it was like an ice skate!

My end goal is a reliable vehicle with good offroad capabilities (when I do need it), and one that looks nice, which to me is some height. Sometime next year I will be moving up to 35" tires and I want to be ready for that. The 33s that came on it are almost new, and I can't justify switching them out until they are worn. I'm not a fan of trimmed fenders because most that I've seen sling crap up the side, and I drive with my windows open a good deal. BUT, I haven't really looked hard at all of the options available.

I'll keep researching. Thanks again for the info.
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jimonfly View Post
So I'm looking at new control arm brackets and Northridge has AEV ($105), Rubicon Express ($103), Rancho ($144) and JKS ($166). They all look pretty much the same (and a lot less hefty than I was expecting), with the JKS having only 2 holes, the AEV and RE with 3 holes and the Rancho with 4 holes. I assume that the Rancho would give me more adjustment positions. If I'm understanding correctly, then with my 1" lift now I would use one position, and these brackets will allow up to 4", depending on the hole used if I chose to increase the lift later. If I need to spend more I will, but would like to know the reason for the price difference. Any others that I should be looking at?
Just one comment in regards to brackets. I've had to slap some of the cheaper RE brackets on someone's jeep and it was a bit aggravating. You wouldn't think it would be, but there was a bit of misalignment, and it's just cumbersome in general. if it were me, I'd pay the bit more for Rancho's 1-piece design, both for easy of install and resale when done with em.....should you go the drop bracket route. Having 4 mounting options is a bonus as well.
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by resharp001 View Post
Just one comment in regards to brackets. I've had to slap some of the cheaper RE brackets on someone's jeep and it was a bit aggravating. You wouldn't think it would be, but there was a bit of misalignment, and it's just cumbersome in general. if it were me, I'd pay the bit more for Rancho's 1-piece design, both for easy of install and resale when done with em.....should you go the drop bracket route. Having 4 mounting options is a bonus as well.
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That's kinda what I was thinking too. The MetalCloaks are also one piece, with only three holes. Price is similar.

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