Looking for Input on Lowering TJ and/or Getting Smaller Tires

luckystr1k3

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Hi all,

I've got a TJ that I put a 3.5 inch Rubicon Express lift on with 33x12.5s about 5 years ago. I did so due to recommendations from people I talked with at shops that do lift installs and it ended up being way taller than I was originally wanting. A couple of years ago, I bit the bullet and had an SYE kit and double cardan driveshaft installed bc I had pretty bad vibrations (that the shops didn't warn me would probably happen ahead of time...I realized after the fact I should've done way more of my own research first but I was just eager to not have it be stock anymore).

Ever since, I've felt like I'd like the Jeep to sit lower than it does and so I've toyed with the idea of going down in lift height and/or downsizing the tires to 32s. Since I paid for and had the SYE and driveshaft work done, I'd like to get some input on what the best option might be. I still want it to be taller than it was when stock so I'm thinking maybe 3" or 2.5" lift.

Part of the reason for this desire is just for it to be a bit more pleasant to drive around, especially on a windy day. I mainly drive it around town with it - I've long had aspirations to offroad with it but have just never really gotten around to it.

Thanks!

EDIT: Please refer to my forum intro post for some pics
 
Last edited:
You'll likely NOT notice any difference between a 3" lift and your current 3.5" lift.

That's where you need to make the decision on whether you want to lower the TJ or not.
IF that answer is still yes, look in the range of 2" springs/shocks.
At least then you'll be spending the money and ACTUALLY reaping the benefits that you're wanting.

I believe at a 2" lift, you can still run 33" tires if you wish with minimal issues, as long as you stick primarily to pavement/mild trails.
You will have some fender rubbing issues if you plan to do any semi-serious off-roading.

At which point you can decide whether or not you want to step down in tire size.

side note; you might be able to sell your current springs/shocks to cover the cost of the 2" springs/shocks.
Also worth noting, if you have the RE static length arms, you'll need to swap those as well.
Again, can be sold with your springs/shocks and replaced with OEM arms, as OEM/Factory control arms seem to work well with 2" lift height TJ's.
 
So a couple questions that pics might help with here.

You mention that a big reason is it’s not pleasant to drive. What does that mean? I have an 05 TJ with a 4” lift and 35’s and after getting it dialed in, drives as well as the stock silver 05 I had.

I’m just curious if this shop, that put a 3.5” lift and didn’t warn that you’d need an SYE, DC Driveshaft and adjustable control s…..if they actually dialed in your Caster and aligned the toe in correctly.

At 3.5”, you’re going to possibly get some wander if you’re Caster isn’t adjusted correctly, and hopefully they didn’t throw in a drop Pitman arm that will cause bump steer too.
 
I have the 2” version of this varable rate spring with Narrow 33”. but they make a 3” which ride very nicely. A little spring / a 32” I don’t think it’s moving the needle much for the $$ spent.

For that money , if you are okay with the height, I’d bet some more experienced recommendation on the alighnment, control arms, shocks and/or a swayloc bar you can get the ride quality dialed in better.
 
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So a couple questions that pics might help with here.

You mention that a big reason is it’s not pleasant to drive. What does that mean? I have an 05 TJ with a 4” lift and 35’s and after getting it dialed in, drives as well as the stock silver 05 I had.

I’m just curious if this shop, that put a 3.5” lift and didn’t warn that you’d need an SYE, DC Driveshaft and adjustable control s…..if they actually dialed in your Caster and aligned the toe in correctly.

At 3.5”, you’re going to possibly get some wander if you’re Caster isn’t adjusted correctly, and hopefully they didn’t throw in a drop Pitman arm that will cause bump steer too.

I've got some pics on my intro post that I made after making my account :)

Main things that I mean is that I have to fight the wind way more when it's a windy day (because of the taller profile, one of the reasons I think I want it lowered), but I also feel like I'm having to regularly correct my steering to maintain traveling straight. Also a lot of times my tires want to sort of "follow" the road if it's not completely flat and I have to correct for this too - I'm under the impression though that this wouldn't be as bad if I got some narrower tires, like maybe 33x10.5 KO2s, but perhaps this is incorrect.

The shop that did the SYE and driveshaft work a few years later was different than the original shop that put in the lift. I also had them install Rock Jock control arms and they also replaced the steering gearbox and upper and lower ball joints. They also did an alignment afterwards and gave me the printout with everything looking like it was in check. I thought steering (especially freeway driving) would be drastically improved afterward but I was definitely underwhelmed.

Wondering about the dropped pitman arm... will have to go take a look at the Jeep and/or find the paperwork for the full list of things both shops did.
 
Hi all,

I've got a TJ that I put a 3.5 inch Rubicon Express lift on with 33x12.5s about 5 years ago. I did so due to recommendations from people I talked with at shops that do lift installs and it ended up being way taller than I was originally wanting. A couple of years ago, I bit the bullet and had an SYE kit and double cardan driveshaft installed bc I had pretty bad vibrations (that the shops didn't warn me would probably happen ahead of time...I realized after the fact I should've done way more of my own research first but I was just eager to not have it be stock anymore).

Ever since, I've felt like I'd like the Jeep to sit lower than it does and so I've toyed with the idea of going down in lift height and/or downsizing the tires to 32s. Since I paid for and had the SYE and driveshaft work done, I'd like to get some input on what the best option might be. I still want it to be taller than it was when stock so I'm thinking maybe 3" or 2.5" lift.

Part of the reason for this desire is just for it to be a bit more pleasant to drive around, especially on a windy day. I mainly drive it around town with it - I've long had aspirations to offroad with it but have just never really gotten around to it.

Thanks!

Your Jeep isn’t driving bad because it is lifted. It isn’t driving well because of poor parts and not set up well. It should feel planted and firm steering.

If it’s just too high for ingress/egress, drop to 2” and 31-32” and do it right. Shocks are a key to good driving. Springs are irrelevant.

Edit: check your caster. It should be around 6* or more.
 
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I have the 2” version of this varable rate spring with Narrow 33”. but they make a 3” which ride very nicely. A little spring / a 32” I don’t think it’s moving the needle much for the $$ spent.

For that money , if you are okay with the height, I’d bet some more experienced recommendation on the alighnment, control arms, shocks and/or a swayloc bar you can get the ride quality dialed in better.

Thanks I'll check those out!

When I had the SYE and driveshaft work done I also had them install a full set of Rock Jock adjustable control arms and they did an alignment.... I also recently had the RE shocks replaced with Rancho RS5000X shocks because of how widely recommended they are on this forum.

Will look into the Swayloc bar 🤔
 
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1 inch body lift and 31" tires, back to all stock. Go most anywhere. (Jeep looks good the way it is.)

1709655383630.png
 
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Your Jeep isn’t driving bad because it is lifted. It isn’t driving well because of poor parts and not set up well. It should feel planted and firm steering.

If it’s just too high for ingress/egress, drop to 2” and 31-32” and do it right. Shocks are a key to good driving. Springs are irrelevant.

Ingress/egress isn't an issue. I had Rancho RS5000X shocks installed last year due to how much praise they get on the forum. They're better than when I had the RE shocks but I was kind of underwhelmed after having them put on.

In regards to feeling planted and obtaining firm steering, any thoughts on what to change? Maybe the steering gearbox they replaced it with wasn't great? Still need to check if there's a pitman arm drop as someone else brought up. I'm hesitant to think that the alignment is an issue since the most recent alignment after getting the adjustable control arms installed, they gave me the printout showing the alignment was "good"

EDIT: Just saw your edit to check caster, will get the paperwork out and check
 
Ingress/egress isn't an issue. I had Rancho RS5000X shocks installed last year due to how much praise they get on the forum. They're better than when I had the RE shocks but I was kind of underwhelmed after having them put on.

In regards to feeling planted and obtaining firm steering, any thoughts on what to change? Maybe the steering gearbox they replaced it with wasn't great? Still need to check if there's a pitman arm drop as someone else brought up. I'm hesitant to think that the alignment is an issue since the most recent alignment after getting the adjustable control arms installed, they gave me the printout showing the alignment was "good"

EDIT: Just saw your edit to check caster, will get the paperwork out and check

Yeah, the Rancho 5000x are squishy shocks. They are recommended as a budget shock and very few want to do the work to outboard and add a tune-able shock which is what you really need to improve ride quality in all conditions.

Do you have a stock sway bar? It’s solid. An AntiRock will leave a lot to be desired onroad. A SwayLoc is comparable to the stock bar, but it’s dual rate so it is also good offroad. You’re looking for good road manners.

If steering is wandering or twitchy you may want to focus there. The box could be poor. The best is PSC. $$$$
 
You'll likely NOT notice any difference between a 3" lift and your current 3.5" lift.

That's where you need to make the decision on whether you want to lower the TJ or not.
IF that answer is still yes, look in the range of 2" springs/shocks.
At least then you'll be spending the money and ACTUALLY reaping the benefits that you're wanting.

I believe at a 2" lift, you can still run 33" tires if you wish with minimal issues, as long as you stick primarily to pavement/mild trails.
You will have some fender rubbing issues if you plan to do any semi-serious off-roading.

At which point you can decide whether or not you want to step down in tire size.

side note; you might be able to sell your current springs/shocks to cover the cost of the 2" springs/shocks.
Also worth noting, if you have the RE static length arms, you'll need to swap those as well.
Again, can be sold with your springs/shocks and replaced with OEM arms, as OEM/Factory control arms seem to work well with 2" lift height TJ's.

By looking "in the range of 2"" does that include 2.5"? I guess it probably wouldn't make a whole lot of difference?

Definitely planning to sell stuff to hopefully recoup some cost - will probably list here on the forum.
 
Yeah, the Rancho 5000x are squishy shocks. They are recommended as a budget shock and very few want to do the work to outboard and add a tune-able shock which is what you really need to improve ride quality in all conditions.

Do you have a stock sway bar? It’s solid. An AntiRock will leave a lot to be desired onroad. A SwayLoc is comparable to the stock bar, but it’s dual rate so it is also good offroad. You’re looking for good road manners.

If steering is wandering or twitchy you may want to focus there. The box could be poor. The best is PSC. $$$$

Thanks for the input!

As far as I know it's still a stock sway bar (don't see a sway bar on the invoices for either time I had major work done to it).

Will look in to PSC 😰

Looking over the invoice for the original job (lift install) I see they had a few "steering stabilizer" parts included - don't know how much of that is still there, or was replaced when I had the more recent work done.

Full list of parts from the more recent job includes:
  • MasterPro Steering Gear Box - Remanufactured - 502-0125 (Junk?)
  • Upper and lower ball joints
  • MPC Tie Rod End (Front Right outer)
  • MPC Tie Rod End (at pitman arm)
  • MPC Tie Rod Adjusting Sleeve
  • SYE Kit
  • Custom Driveshaft
  • Rock Jock Control Arms

EDIT: Also now that I'm looking at all the paperwork I guess they didn't give me an alignment printout. Invoice says they did a laser alignment, but I guess I was remembering getting printouts for previous times - still have all of those.
 
Thanks for the input!

As far as I know it's still a stock sway bar (don't see a sway bar on the invoices for either time I had major work done to it).

Will look in to PSC 😰

Looking over the invoice for the original job (lift install) I see they had a few "steering stabilizer" parts included - don't know how much of that is still there, or was replaced when I had the more recent work done.

Full list of parts from the more recent job includes:
  • MasterPro Steering Gear Box - Remanufactured - 502-0125 (Junk?)
  • Upper and lower ball joints
  • MPC Tie Rod End (Front Right outer)
  • MPC Tie Rod End (at pitman arm)
  • MPC Tie Rod Adjusting Sleeve
  • SYE Kit
  • Custom Driveshaft
  • Rock Jock Control Arms

EDIT: Also now that I'm looking at all the paperwork I guess they didn't give me an alignment printout. Invoice says they did a laser alignment, but I guess I was remembering getting printouts for previous times - still have all of those.

Free stuff first.

Check your alignment. This is a DIY job.

Thread 'How to align your Jeep Wrangler TJ'
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/how-to-align-your-jeep-wrangler-tj.85/

Post pics of the steering. Just get down under the front of the Jeep and take a pic showing the whole steering from tire to tire. We can go from there.

In your list I wouldn’t worry about the following items just yet:

Ball joints
SYE Kit
Custom driveshaft
RockJock Control Arms
 
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I've got some pics on my intro post that I made after making my account :)

Main things that I mean is that I have to fight the wind way more when it's a windy day (because of the taller profile, one of the reasons I think I want it lowered), but I also feel like I'm having to regularly correct my steering to maintain traveling straight. Also a lot of times my tires want to sort of "follow" the road if it's not completely flat and I have to correct for this too - I'm under the impression though that this wouldn't be as bad if I got some narrower tires, like maybe 33x10.5 KO2s, but perhaps this is incorrect.

The shop that did the SYE and driveshaft work a few years later was different than the original shop that put in the lift. I also had them install Rock Jock control arms and they also replaced the steering gearbox and upper and lower ball joints. They also did an alignment afterwards and gave me the printout with everything looking like it was in check. I thought steering (especially freeway driving) would be drastically improved afterward but I was definitely underwhelmed.

Wondering about the dropped pitman arm... will have to go take a look at the Jeep and/or find the paperwork for the full list of things both shops did.

So I went through a lot of this. You can jump to all the other things, but here is what I did Exaclty with mine. I drove it 80 on TX 45 Tollway and 183, one finger on the steering wheel. Tracks super straight, no more all over.

1. I would bet a ton your Caster isn’t right. The shop may not know that, crazy to say that, but I’ve seen it at two of the biggest Jeep shops here.
There no so specific number, but 6 to 8 is probably going to make a huge difference.
Just as an example, I have a CJ5 with 35’s and 6” lift I bought. Freaking Jeep was all over the road, drifting tracking badly, non stop work to stay in my lane. I added 6 degree shims to add Caster, and I drive it out doing 65 now no issues, tracks like $. You’re describing issues I’ve seen on 2 TJ’s a CJ and a JK that have been lifted, and adjusting the Caster was the biggest part of it.

2. Look up the thread for @home Toe In , get aluminum bar at Home Depot and some clamps and two exact tape measures.

Drive it and see what it feels like. I would absolutely not start even talking about Steering etc, PSC or anything until you adjust the CA’s and make sure Caster and Toe in are right there.

I’d also make 100% that they didn’t ad a Drop Pitman, but that is more Bump Steer, not all this drifting.

Also, yes, when your TJ is set up with not enough Caster with a lift, it will drift, and wind will push you all over too. Another car passing will push you around, all of that.

This one drove all over, and now drives like it’s on rails.

310E62F0-8621-42F6-88F8-441D6A7CECC3.jpeg

My CJ5 isn’t on rails, ha, but it was crazy bad, and Caster fixed her up, I can roll 65 1 finger on the wheel ( I don’t drive like that, but I can)
2B50BCDE-1DBB-420A-B9DD-9F346CD5E810.jpeg
 
I am happy with my leveling kit and 265/75/15 tires. Sits higher than oem and drives like oem. This is a street jeep that will occasionally see some Forest Service type roads.

NewShoes.jpg
 
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Free stuff first.

Check your alignment. This is a DIY job.

Thread 'How to align your Jeep Wrangler TJ'
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/how-to-align-your-jeep-wrangler-tj.85/

Post pics of the steering. Just get down under the front of the Jeep and take a pic showing the whole steering from tire to tire. We can go from there.

In your list I wouldn’t worry about the following items just yet:

Ball joints
SYE Kit
Custom driveshaft
RockJock Control Arms

Ok, here is a pic as described. My mind is blown that alignment can be done at home! Unfortunately where we're living rn I don't have a garage so I'll give it a read through and see how feasible it seems for me to do on my own right now.

tempImageWTjQde.png