Jeep newbie - lift kit and couple of other questions

alexap

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Dec 20, 2019
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Hello wonderful people!

I have spent so much time lately here researching and reading so before I start with questions I just want to say THANK YOU ALL for being such a great and helpful bunch! Jeep is not just vehicle, it's a way of life!

Please forgive me in advance on my questions, I know newbies come here all the time and ask same stuff but I guess that's just how it goes!

So, recently I scored completely stock `99 Sahara and I'm two miles away of hitting 111111. I bought it from a girl who owned it for 16 years and took a pretty good care of it. Maintenance was in time and most important of all, frame is very clean with some small surface rust which is extremely difficult to find here in Chicago area. Girl I bought it from lived in Georgia and moved here couple a years ago.

IMG_20191215_114746__01.jpg


So far most of the work I did was related to cleaning. We were blessed with couple of really warm days around Christmas so I pulled all carpets out, washed them, vacuumed and wiped everything. I removed that front bumper, sanded it completely and spray painted it and it looks much better! Also, got the new fog light and replaced that busted one. Oh and those mirrors, I have spent way too much time removing paint from that aluminum but they came out nicely after painting!
Also got some new LED headlights so I can finally see where to drive at night. :)

As soon as springs come I'm planning on touching up dents and doing some buffing & polishing hoping to get rid of some scratches I see around. I am also planning on getting under, scrapping that surface rust on frame and depending on how it looks after treating those parts with phosphoric acid, then spray painting and protecting everything with fluid film or something similar.

Anyways, we are in winter now so I want to use that time to get some lift kit and turn this baby Jeep into adult Jeep. I swear, every other TJ I see around is bigger than mine! :)

So I did a lot of reading and went through that master thread "which lift kit to choose" couple of times.
Fact is I could probably go with 1" body lift and I would be okay as I'm not planning on doing any big off-roading.
I'm planning on driving this Jeep couple a miles daily to a train station and back and using it in on weekends for pleasure rides. During summer I could hit beach and some light trails. Really I would prefer to get comfortable ride on pavement more than extreme performance off-road. I would love to be able to sit in this Jeep and drive it 8 hrs on highway and have as smooth ride as possible.

However, car has regular Rancho 5000 shocks on it right now and they are completely rusted and look really nasty. Coils are also sagging so it's time to refresh those as well. With all that needed to be done why then just don't get a lift kit??!!

So I decided 2"-2.5" lift kit is probably best option!

1. BDS lift kit
I read really good stuff about them. Talk to some guys and they are recommending upgrading shocks to Fox but I'm feeling that might be overkill. Now when it comes to this lift I have read about settings diff slightly off center so getting a front and rear adjustable track bar is recommended.
Help me understand, is that specific to this lift or generally for every 2" lift?
This lift goes around $430 with NX2 shocks or $790 with Fox. If I add track bars that's around $350 more which is getting out of budget a bit.

2.ProComp springs with Rancho RS5000x shocks
Thank you Jerry for this! I have read somewhere you recommending this and I believe Chris is running Rancho's and sounds like you guys are happy with these.
This combination comes around $450 and that is totally acceptable. My question would obviously be what else I need to include with this?

3. Terraflex
Have some people recommending this but it does not seems like a great choice for TJ and price is almost double than option above.

4. ?? Maybe something else ?? Recommendations welcome!

So really, 2nd option seems like a best but I would like to know what else I need to make this process as smooth as possible. I know that TC drop is one thing that will most likely have to happen. What I'm trying to figure out is what other components I might need for this lift to perform smooth and don't cause any issues?


Now with lift kit I'm planning to add new tires as well. I think I have decided to go with 31x10.50r15. I don't think that I should have any rubbing issues with these and as far as I understood there is no any other extra work needed, these should just fit perfectly?
Again, question that's been asked hundred times but with everything I said above, which tires should I go for? :)

My gear ratio is 3.73 and with these tires re-gearing is not must?

Last but not least... as it's getting colder here I noticed that shifting into 2nd gear is getting a bit difficult. If I'm driving longer it gets a bit better.
I have read about transmission fluid and synchros and ordered some RedLine GL-4 so I'm planning on flushing that in hope it will fix it a bit. Also I remember seeing something about some bushing that could be removed to help with this but can't find that topic. Did I dream that? :)

I'm very sorry about my long post. If admin thinks we could split it into introduction and couple of other posts we can do that.
I thought it might be easier to have all at one place.

Thank you all!

EDIT:
If you know any shop or a good mechanic to recommend around South-West Chicago burbs please let me know.
I will have to hire someone to help me or do this for me because I would not dare to this myself yet!
 
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Chris

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31s are a great choice for a mild build that won't break the bank.

While re-gearing isn't necessary, it's still going to be advisable if you want your TJ to drive as good as it can. For re-gearing, see this thread: What gear ratio should I install in my Jeep Wrangler TJ / LJ? (and other re-gearing FAQs)

As far as lifts go, I would skip the BDS lift and piece my own lift together myself. For a 2" lift (which is perfect for 31s) you can either go with the OME front springs / OME rear springs or the ProComp springs, and I would pair those with Rancho RS5000X shocks. I've run almost every off-the-shelf shock you can get for a TJ, and the Rancho RS5000X shocks do indeed ride the best of them, and they are cheap too, which is another plus.

In addition to the Rancho shocks, you'll need to drop your transfer case a bit, unless you plan on installing a SYE and CV driveshaft, and adjustable control arms (which I would do at some point anyways). To drop the transfer case, all you need is longer bolts which you can get at any Home Depot or ACE Hardware. You'll also need stacks of washers to go with them. I'd probably start at an inch of washers for each bolt, which means the bolts you get will need to be an inch longer than stock (and longer if you need more washers).

For bump stops, just use hockey pucks, drill out the centers, and mount them to the lower spring perches using a tap and dye. This it the preferred way to add bump stop, and it's very easy to do.

Lastly, adjustable track bars aren't a must at 2" of lift, but they also won't hurt, and will center the axles laterally under the vehicle. For adjustable track bars, these are the ones I would suggest:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TTZO9O/?tag=wranglerorg-20
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TTZOU8/?tag=wranglerorg-20

If I left anything out, let me know!
 

q8ieng

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Kuwait
First of all, congrats on the TJ and welcome (To Jeep = TJ) :LOL: Nice TJ.
Second, I was going to suggest the Rancho as I read before that it is great by @Chris , but he replied already.

So, looking forward to see your build and more photos please
 
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q8ieng

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Messages
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31s are a great choice for a mild build that won't break the bank.

While re-gearing isn't necessary, it's still going to be advisable if you want your TJ to drive as good as it can. For re-gearing, see this thread: What gear ratio should I install in my Jeep Wrangler TJ / LJ? (and other re-gearing FAQs)

As far as lifts go, I would skip the BDS lift and piece my own lift together myself. For a 2" lift (which is perfect for 31s) you can either go with the OME front springs / OME rear springs or the ProComp springs, and I would pair those with Rancho RS5000X shocks. I've run almost every off-the-shelf shock you can get for a TJ, and the Rancho RS5000X shocks do indeed ride the best of them, and they are cheap too, which is another plus.

In addition to the Rancho shocks, you'll need to drop your transfer case a bit, unless you plan on installing a SYE and CV driveshaft, and adjustable control arms (which I would do at some point anyways). To drop the transfer case, all you need is longer bolts which you can get at any Home Depot or ACE Hardware. You'll also need stacks of washers to go with them. I'd probably start at an inch of washers for each bolt, which means the bolts you get will need to be an inch longer than stock (and longer if you need more washers).

For bump stops, just use hockey pucks, drill out the centers, and mount them to the lower spring perches using a tap and dye. This it the preferred way to add bump stop, and it's very easy to do.

Lastly, adjustable track bars aren't a must at 2" of lift, but they also won't hurt, and will center the axles laterally under the vehicle. For adjustable track bars, these are the ones I would suggest:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TTZO9O/?tag=wranglerorg-20
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TTZOU8/?tag=wranglerorg-20

If I left anything out, let me know!
A friend of mine suggested HR Springs
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C7M0NRO/?tag=wranglerorg-20

what do you think of these? He said they are extremely soft and ride very well, but they are only 1"
 
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alexap

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Thank you all for replies! It's very helpful!
So regarding those Ranchos, I see people here love them but looking at some other Facebook groups I got impression that their longevity is not that great?
How often do you recommend replacing them?

One question noone touched tho is about my transmission.
So I did a bit testing this morning.
If I shift at lower RPM's, like just start in 1st and move into 2nd there is almost no any resistance.
However, if I get to like 2k RPM's in first and try to go in 2nd it doesn't go as smooth.
It's kinda weird, it feels like it doesn't align to allow it to pop in or something like that.
As I mentioned, it's much more noticeable on cold weather and when Jeep is just started.

IMG_20200109_062639.jpg


Just got 111111 this morning! ;)
 
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Cornbread

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Does the problem go away after the transmission warms up? It's not all that uncommon for a transmission with that many miles to experience delayed shifts in cold weather and it's possible you might be near a transmission rebuild. Mine had to be rebuilt at 120XXX miles which seems to be premature for a 32RH (PO ran it low on fluid for a year). I would try a trans fluid flush and filter change. If that don't work then add some Lucas Transmission Fix. Wouldn't hurt to check for codes.
 

DaYooperTransplant

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I suggest you go with the Redline, it made a noticeable difference on my Jeep, that coupled with the 31’s and getting used to the shift RPM’s and I think you’ll be fine. You might want to add to your list the speedometer gear that will put your MPH and mileage back on track.
 
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alexap

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Yeah I ordered Redline and it should be arriving in a week. I will do flush asap!
What filter exactly? Any recommendation for filter brand and speedometer gear?
Thanks!
 

Goatman

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Another vote for the Redline oil. Also try to just shift a bit slower. Clutch in, pop the shifter out of gear using just your palm diagonally so the shifter dosen't go to the middle rail, half a heart beat, and then, again using your palm finish the shift into second. This should help give you smoother shifts. Or imagine the shifter knob is an egg. I've heard it explained both ways.
The majority of your suspension is controlled by two things. Shocks and tires. Springs work in there too, but only as far as spring weight. It sounds like you will be keeping your TJ light. So I would recommend getting a lighter weight spring. OME light springs ride very well for me.
Rancho 5000x shocks are the biggest upgrade to ride quality you will probably make. Until you are getting into high end shocks with custom valving they are a great choice.
Finally, tire choice. In Chicago with the crappy weather you would be best served by a narrower tire that is good in bad conditions. There are several A/T tires that will work, I absolutely love the Cooper AT3 4S LT tires. Good design with lots of siping to give excellent snow and ice traction. Quiet. Easy to balance. 60,000 mi warranty. They are snow flake, or 3 peak rat EA d for bad weather and offer surprisingly good off road traction up to mud and large rocks. But for a trail tire they are great.
Be sure all your front end components are in good condition with no slop in the steering and you should be in good shape.
Adjustable track bars to re-center the axles after a spring lift aren't really necessary at this height. I would wait until they need replacement and at that point consider upgrading to them.

Congrats on your new Jeep and welcome to the forum!🍻
 

RMETeeJay

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Yeah I ordered Redline and it should be arriving in a week. I will do flush asap!
What filter exactly? Any recommendation for filter brand and speedometer gear?
Thanks!
No filter. Just make sure that you can remove the fill plug prior to removing the drain plug. Wouldn't hurt to spray some liquid wrench on both and let it soak overnight.

The drain plug should have a magnet. Clean that very well prior to reinstalling.

I saw a noticeable, but small, improvement when I changed to the Redline. These transmissions are known to have some notchiness, so as was said, just slow down and enjoy the ride. ;)
 
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Cornbread

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No filter. Just make sure that you can remove the fill plug prior to removing the drain plug. Wouldn't hurt to spray some liquid wrench on both and let it soak overnight.

The drain plug should have a magnet. Clean that very well prior to reinstalling.

I saw a noticeable, but small, improvement when I changed to the Redline. These transmissions are known to have some notchiness, so as was said, just slow down and enjoy the ride. ;)
I assumed the PO had an auto, sounds like he's running a manual. Disregard my last post, that was advice to the auto.
 

DaYooperTransplant

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Yeah I ordered Redline and it should be arriving in a week. I will do flush asap!
What filter exactly? Any recommendation for filter brand and speedometer gear?
Thanks!
If you google the Speedometer Gear tooth chart, look for your set up, once you decide on tires and gearing, you'll find what you need. Very simple swap out too. Once complete you can compare/check the speed with a GPS or most map apps.
Here is a link for speedo gears Speedo Gear- there are more out there but this is what site I used.
 

JMT

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Thank you all for replies! It's very helpful!
So regarding those Ranchos, I see people here love them but looking at some other Facebook groups I got impression that their longevity is not that great?
How often do you recommend replacing them?

One question noone touched tho is about my transmission.
So I did a bit testing this morning.
If I shift at lower RPM's, like just start in 1st and move into 2nd there is almost no any resistance.
However, if I get to like 2k RPM's in first and try to go in 2nd it doesn't go as smooth.
It's kinda weird, it feels like it doesn't align to allow it to pop in or something like that.
As I mentioned, it's much more noticeable on cold weather and when Jeep is just started.

View attachment 133302

Just got 111111 this morning! ;)
Try the redline MTL and try altering you shifting technique, be lighter on the shifter and let it find the gear.
 
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alexap

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Another vote for the Redline oil. Also try to just shift a bit slower. Clutch in, pop the shifter out of gear using just your palm diagonally so the shifter dosen't go to the middle rail, half a heart beat, and then, again using your palm finish the shift into second. This should help give you smoother shifts. Or imagine the shifter knob is an egg. I've heard it explained both ways.
The majority of your suspension is controlled by two things. Shocks and tires. Springs work in there too, but only as far as spring weight. It sounds like you will be keeping your TJ light. So I would recommend getting a lighter weight spring. OME light springs ride very well for me.
Rancho 5000x shocks are the biggest upgrade to ride quality you will probably make. Until you are getting into high end shocks with custom valving they are a great choice.
Finally, tire choice. In Chicago with the crappy weather you would be best served by a narrower tire that is good in bad conditions. There are several A/T tires that will work, I absolutely love the Cooper AT3 4S LT tires. Good design with lots of siping to give excellent snow and ice traction. Quiet. Easy to balance. 60,000 mi warranty. They are snow flake, or 3 peak rat EA d for bad weather and offer surprisingly good off road traction up to mud and large rocks. But for a trail tire they are great.
Be sure all your front end components are in good condition with no slop in the steering and you should be in good shape.
Adjustable track bars to re-center the axles after a spring lift aren't really necessary at this height. I would wait until they need replacement and at that point consider upgrading to them.

Congrats on your new Jeep and welcome to the forum!🍻
I think I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to that shifting.
I think I naturally switch to shift like that after driving for some time.
However, I have challenge to start shifting like that as soon as I get into vehicle. :)
It's probably habit from old manual's I have been driving and I just need to pay more attention until it becomes natural.

H & R springs/Rancho5000X on mine, I did add a slight puck lift to the front to level out the rake after adding bumper and lift. Drives real nice on the duratrac 31.5 x 10.5 x 15.

View attachment 133316
Is that 2" as well? Looks really nice and that's what I'm going for! Do you have a link to your springs exactly?

Chris, after I added everything you suggested it came to $982. :)

Screenshot_20200109-091920.jpg


I was hoping to keep it under 1k with shop costs but seems like that will not be a case :)
 

Chris

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I think I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to that shifting.
I think I naturally switch to shift like that after driving for some time.
However, I have challenge to start shifting like that as soon as I get into vehicle. :)
It's probably habit from old manual's I have been driving and I just need to pay more attention until it becomes natural.



Is that 2" as well? Looks really nice and that's what I'm going for! Do you have a link to your springs exactly?

Chris, after I added everything you suggested it came to $982. :)

View attachment 133321

I was hoping to keep it under 1k with shop costs but seems like that will not be a case :)
There you go! $982 isn't bad at all. I'm of the mindset that the majority of the time it's easier if you piece a lift together yourself, as oppose to buying a "kit". Often times you'll get better components this way too!
 

JMT

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I think I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to that shifting.
I think I naturally switch to shift like that after driving for some time.
However, I have challenge to start shifting like that as soon as I get into vehicle. :)
It's probably habit from old manual's I have been driving and I just need to pay more attention until it becomes natural.



Is that 2" as well? Looks really nice and that's what I'm going for! Do you have a link to your springs exactly?

Chris, after I added everything you suggested it came to $982. :)

View attachment 133321

I was hoping to keep it under 1k with shop costs but seems like that will not be a case :)
You can do the work pretty easily. 3 years ago I did my first mechanical thing on a vehicle, spacers and shocks. Took about 7 hours
 
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JMT

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I think I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to that shifting.
I think I naturally switch to shift like that after driving for some time.
However, I have challenge to start shifting like that as soon as I get into vehicle. :)
It's probably habit from old manual's I have been driving and I just need to pay more attention until it becomes natural.



Is that 2" as well? Looks really nice and that's what I'm going for! Do you have a link to your springs exactly?

Chris, after I added everything you suggested it came to $982. :)

View attachment 133321

I was hoping to keep it under 1k with shop costs but seems like that will not be a case :)
You could also get away without the trackbars for now, save a little, see where the axle is before buying. Why do you have two trackbars on your order?