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After a couple of months with my old lift in my newer ZJ, I noticed that my 32's were really beginning to rub against the wheel well during hard left turns. I suspect that it was the additional weight of the V8 compared to the in-line 6 which lead to some settling in the Rancho springs. Trimming away some of the bumper seemed to help, but it continued to get worse. The problem was compounded further whenever I would disconnect the sway bar during off-road excursions. I began to realize that my 3" lift just wasn't going to cut it for what I wanted to do on the trail.

One of the first things you'll notice if and when you begin looking around for a lift is that there is a big price difference between the low-end and the high-end kits. If all you want is 1-2" of lift, it may be enough to simply throw in some poly spacers and pick up some longer shocks. This can be done for $150-300. Even with the smaller lifts though, you really should get an adjustable track bar, which will run you another $100-200. Simply settling on a track bar bracket will just decrease your flex range and increase the likelihood of binding everything up (I'm speaking from experience here). With as little as 1-2" you can trim your fenders and fit some pretty big tires - a lot of ZJ drivers are satisfied with this. I must admit, there's definitely something to be said for keeping your center-of-gravity low. However, you've got to lift it if you want to fit longer shocks for more flex and droop. Having already driven with 3" of lift for three years, I was hungry for more articulation.

Once you've decided to go more than 3-4 1/2", you've committed to spending some serious cash. Though some people are running short arms with the taller lifts, the smoothest rides have long-arm kits allowing the control arms more closely approximate the factory angles. The basic long-arm kit usually runs around $2,000, but comes with springs, shocks, the long-arms, extended brake lines, an adjustable track bar, etc. Just keep reminding yourself that if you don't do it correctly the first time, you'll still end up paying for it the second time around! Cutting corners increases the risk of not only compromising your off-road performance, but your street and highway handling as well. Also, the higher you lift your ZJ, the more you stretch out and twist the drive train (which can increase vibration). Longer carden drive shafts usually help to ameliorate this, but might not eliminate it completely. If you are still having vibrations, you may have to lower your transfercase (which then lowers your high-center point) or get high-pinion axles (more $$$).

While researching the type of lift I would get, I did a quick "interior detail" project on my Jeep. I had seen a great tech article on the NAGCA web site on how to jazz up the instrument display, and I thought white gauges would look pretty cool. After the El-Glo Face Overlay setup arrived from the Ultimate Jeep Store, I followed the instructions in the tech article and was able to install it in just a little over two hours. Since I had the dash apart, I also painted the faux wood grain trim (which had been getting on my nerves) a flat black to match the rest of the dash trim.

ZJ build, continued

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