Saggy/boat feeling in my ZJ. shock/springs upgrade? - JeepForum.com
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Unread 01-24-2013, 01:50 PM   #1
ZJ1998
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Saggy/boat feeling in my ZJ. shock/springs upgrade?

Good afternoon all! I've had my ZJ for quite a few years now. Only additions to it are a 2" BB by RE and some good tires.

I have moved out to Utah over 2 years ago and since then bought a YJ for wheeling purposes. Since that purchase I have been using my ZJ mainly for winter time driving (YJ does alright but its too light and the ZJ is much better on my snow packed mtn roads) and in the summer time I haul firewood in the ZJ. Also during the winter, if the town water has been shut off, I have to haul water to the house from work which is about 700-800lbs sitting in the back with the seats down in a tank, for a 25 minute drive. I know this also kills the shocks.

Now I know it is not a towing machine but I don't want to sell it to buy a truck. I realize I have ruined the shocks and I now have been left with a boat type feeling and my shocks bottom out all the time when driven cold. It floats all over the place obviously. Knew this was going to happen, just didn't realize it would happen so fast!

My main question is this: Are my springs bad too or just my shocks? Is there a great shock out there that helps carry heavy loads and is designed to do so? As I said I haul wood in a trailer...about 3000 lbs (maybe 6 times a summer) and then I haul about 800lbs of water in a 100gallon water tank in the back end for 5 days a week maybe for 2-3 months.

Any recommendations for upgrades to help carry these loads? Besides selling!! Or am I just screwed? A rear trac bar maybe to help stabilize?

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Unread 01-24-2013, 03:22 PM   #2
Candymancan
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Honestly dude, 3,000 lbs is not even close to the tow rating of a ZJ... and 800 lbs in the back is close but ZJ's are rated like a half ton pickup.. They can carry up to 1,000 or was it 1075lbs of weight... I do landscaping i have doen it for 3 years now, I have owned my 5.9 for 2 1/2 years.. I put 25-30 bags of multch in the back from floor to ceiling.. Each bag weighs about 30lbs.. i weigh around 280lbs.. Thats over 1000lbs of weight in the Jeep... When I have that much weigh i can deff feel it when driving.. The Jeep has that "boat" feeling your talking about, so i drive slow however sometimes when I go over a hump in the road at 40 mph the rear end i can feel it thumping against the bump stock on the axle when the body jumps in the air and thumps back down.

This is one thing I like about the ZJ's they have enormous cargo room for such a small SUV compared to todays SUV's.. and they can carry over 1,000lbs of weight.. Most SUV's can only haul around 500-700 lbs.

My springs are fine tho.. Granted i dont carry that weight 5 days a week... Your shocks if they are stock are already bad... Thats a granted.. Your springs. Get a tape measure out measure from the circle (middle of the rim) to the bottom of the fender.. It should be about 18-19 inchs.. If its lower then 18 you most likely have spring sag... Now since you have a budget boost on take the 1.25 or 2 inchs boost you have into account.

To help carry those loads, im not totally sure.. I have heard people installing Airbags to help with the add'd weight, that and some really really stiff shocks.
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Unread 01-24-2013, 03:45 PM   #3
ZJ1998
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I will measure and update. It's weird, yes, as I know it could do more, I just don't understand why in the past 1 1/2 yrs it has just completely gone saggy. It's a boat type feeling no matter what is in the ZJ. It constantly feels worse than when I drive my YJ on 35's which drives pretty good, but I've just been disappointed with the ZJ recently...it's all over the road!! It has the RE shocks that came with their 2" BB kit so they're not great but they're only a few years old...maybe 3 yrs I guess.

I'll let you all know the measurements.
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Unread 01-24-2013, 07:50 PM   #4
mig1289
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i replaced the front sway bar end links and the front sway bar bushing of my zj 2 summers ago for about $60. It helped out ten fold, didnt feel like it was floating around corners. This coming summer im planning on replacing the rear control arm bushing and all 8 control arms with new bushings. Hopefully it'll completely cure the boat feeling at highway speeds (+10mph)
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Unread 02-11-2013, 09:18 AM   #5
ZJ1998
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Front end is measuring at 19.5". Rear is 20" even.

The bb was a 2" lift. I guess some new stiff shocks would help. Springs should be ok?
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Unread 02-11-2013, 11:26 AM   #6
dirtdad
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Regular shocks dont increase your carrying capacity. You should look at air bags, or maybe air shocks for the back, that way you can pump them up when you need to carry the 800 lbs.of water, and lower the pressure to a more comfortable level when you are not carrying that much weight. If your steering feels sloppy, also check your tie rod ends.
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Unread 02-11-2013, 01:27 PM   #7
PolkaPower
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My boat like feeling was from the control arms bushings being shot. After I replaced just the lowers it was much much better.
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Unread 02-11-2013, 06:01 PM   #8
LouC
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Well for sure there can be general wear on all the suspension components. BUT, I recall towing with my ZJ when it was stock and only about 4 years old. The rear end squatted badly under only about 300 lbs tongue weight and the boat+trailer (4000 lbs) could definitely be felt moving the ZJ around. I upgraded it in stages. First I put on a set of Bilstein HD monotube high pressure gas shocks. These have been one of the best mods I have done to the ZJ, they are still on 10 years later and they have 95,000 miles on them and are still good. Next, I put in a set of Air Lift air bags in the rear coils, this very inexpensive mod totally eliminated any sag when towing. You can put a max of 35 psi in them, and at that pressure the rear suspension is REALLY stiff, like a 3/4 ton pick up stiff. Last I got rid of the P rated tires and put on a set of LT 235/75-15 tires, the stiffer LT sidewalls helps with load carrying and trailer towing. If you do those simple mods to your ZJ it will carry loads much better (the Air Lifts alone, make a huge difference) and will tow better too. I think that the ZJs and for sure WKs came with relatively soft coil springs for good articulation off road and they all squat under tongue weight or cargo load. The Air Lifts (Firestone makes a similar product, the Ride-Rite) should be standard.

When I first got into the ZJ realm, I recall people putting on OME suspension systems (they sell matched sets of springs and shocks, from no lift to a mild 2" lift, and offer springs for carrying heavy loads in the rear). But if you just want to put your own suspension together, start with the air bags. If you have a 2"BB, you might have to call Air Lift and find out what size bags you need to use, the stock ZJ ones might not be long enough.
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Unread 06-09-2013, 04:12 AM   #9
Mike-W
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Just reading thought the replies, I have 96 and the rear drivers side is 17inches whilst the other three wheel arches are 18. Would I need to replace the rear springs?
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Unread 06-09-2013, 05:37 AM   #10
PolkaPower
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Probably not the springs. My bet is on control arm bushings.
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Unread 06-09-2013, 06:09 AM   #11
Mike-W
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower
Probably not the springs. My bet is on control arm bushings.
What should I be looking for to confirm this is the issue?
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Unread 06-09-2013, 06:18 AM   #12
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike-W View Post
What should I be looking for to confirm this is the issue?
If they are original it's almost guaranteed they are bad. Here is what mine looked like at 127 thousand miles.You can see that the center part of the bushing is no longer attached.
Even after I put the ADDCO sway bar and Bilstein shocks on it still rode like a boat and was all over the highway. Replacing these fixed it.

Take one of the front lower arms off and take a look at it. You should be able to tell right away.

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Unread 06-09-2013, 06:27 AM   #13
Texas ZJ1
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Polka's right. IF the bushings are worn similarly to that, you're just skating around the road.

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Unread 06-09-2013, 06:28 AM   #14
Mike-W
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower

If they are original it's almost guaranteed they are bad. Here is what mine looked like at 127 thousand miles.You can see that the center part of the bushing is no longer attached.
Even after I put the ADDCO sway bar and Bilstein shocks on it still rode like a boat and was all over the highway. Replacing these fixed it.

Take one of the front lower arms off and take a look at it. You should be able to tell right away.
It's definitely worn but doesn't look enough for the 1 inch drop... Maybe it is.
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Unread 06-10-2013, 06:52 AM   #15
Mike-W
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Would it be easier to just change either the bottom or top control arm completely?
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