ChrisHager's 04 WJ Build Thread
Well it's finally time for me to start a build thread. I had been debating for a while now about doing one and decided with the upcoming changes, now is the time to start.
For a little back story, before I bought my WJ, I was a little unsure of what I wanted. I was debating on a small truck or SUV but hadn't fully decided. It was suggested to me that I look at the Grand Cherokees. So after test driving a couple, I ended up buying this:
Black 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4, Inline 6, Selec-Trac with about 81,000 miles.
(This is from this morning... Somehow I didn't have a picture of my money pit!)
Factory tow hook installed:
My rendition of a proper factory hitch install:
Then I grabbed a couple sets of the off road light's from Harbor Freight and made a light bar utilizing the mounting points for the tow hooks:
Here is a little write up on it if you are interested:
04 Grand Cherokee Off Road Light Install
Overall, I like these lights, especially for the price. They are quite bright and are also sturdy where I have them mounted. I will say, though, that they are more of a spot light as opposed to a flood light. Also, where they are now, there is a good possibility of them getting smashed or broken off while off roading. I will probably move them in the future but I am pleased with how it is set up currently. They are really nice for seeing deer, etc. while driving down country roads.
Less than a month later, on the way to a bachelor party, my jeep became ill with a misfire code for Cylinder 5. Turns out, the lifter wore down and ground into the camshaft. Here are some highlights of the camshaft and lifter install:
And here is the write up of the whole process:
2004 4.0 I6 Jeep Grand Cherokee Camshaft, Timing Set, and Lifter Replacement
Since then, I've put in a new TPS, cleaned the Throttle Body and IAC, threw on a new gas cap in hopes of fixing my EVAP leak (no luck, looks like I've got some work to do!), replaced the water pump and thermostat, flushed the cooling system and refilled with the good stuff, Zerex G-05. I also found out that the Transmission Rear Output Shaft Seal and all 4 shocks were replaced at 67k and the Transfer Case was replaced at 80k. So basically, most of the vehicle can be considered 'new' now! Haha.
I am in the process of replacing the battery terminals to Marine Style. I have the neg side finished but unfortunately grabbed the wrong ends to finish the positive side. Pics to come.
Edit: Finished Marine Style Battery Terminals/Battery Cable Lug Install
OK, so the reason why I started the build thread...
I've decided to lift the WJ! I talked to Kolak last weekend and ordered:
OME HD Springs
JKS Front Adjustable Trackbar
Rancho HD Steering Stabilizer
I will be taking pictures of the progress along the way and figured, what better place to show these pics/progress than here!
Also, though this is a WJ build thread and will stay that way, occasionally I'll be throwing pictures on here of this:
'Wheeling' Trip (It's stock with 31's... And it's my girlfriend's... And she wasn't crazy about me taking her 'baby' (I believe she named it Daisy??) on a wheeling trip... So I did some very mild wheeling and watched the hardcore stuff.)
Picked up some Safari Doors from a JK:
Like I said, I'll probably throw a couple of pictures of 'Daisy' in here occasionally but it isn't going to be built so the TJ will just get some mentioning here and there.
Feel free to comment/make suggestions of everything along the way. Hope you all enjoy!
I really dig the light setup! Might have to steal your idea. My headlights suck and that is a very bad thing where I live. I can't count the number of animals I've almost plowed!
Thanks! I've been using them more lately since the deer are on the move. They are definitely handy but remember, a lot of states have laws on how many forward facing lights you can legally drive with. I think Illinois is a total of 4, be it 2 headlights and 2 fog lights or whichever way you want to look at it. I never drive on the highway with mine on because 1. It is illegal but mainly because 2. I don't want to blind oncoming traffic!
Side note, I received part 1 of 5 on Thursday! Not sure when the rest will start showing up.
Also, I'm going to be ordering front and rear sway bar end links. Looking at the Zone links. Anyone have any thoughts on these:
My other consideration is the RC quick disconnects. I haven't fully decided because I'm not going to be disconnecting too often and because of that, think the price on the Zone front links might win me over.
Another purchase I'm about to submit to is the Bar Pin Eliminators. I have read extremely good things about them.
I'm not positive when I'll have time to get started on installing the lift but if all the parts are in, I may have the first weekend in December off from the band gigs so that weekend might be the winner! I'll update when I know more. Pics will be involved as well, of course!
Sounds like a good plan so far! If Colorado has a law on forward facing lights, they sure don't enforce it. I had 8 on my old XJ. The four on the roof were 100 watts a piece but I only had them on when I knew no one was around cause they were BRIGHT. Then I had two on the bumper at right above hood level. Not sure of the wattage on them but they were aimed well and I could drive in traffic with them because the stock headlights sucked.
Thoughts on IRO Upper Spring Retainers? A fellow JF'er is offering me a couple nice deals. What's your thoughts on the IRO Upper Spring Retainer? I know their purpose but don't know much about them. Are they necessary at 3"? I'm thinking on jumping on the deal but just wanted to hear if you all think they are a nice addition to my upcoming setup or if they would not be useful to me.
I am still receiving lift components. I'm hoping to get everything in next week and do the lift install next weekend.
Yesterday I received the IRO Upper Spring Retainers and Bar Pin Eliminators from sinbad85. Thanks again!
Also, my factory CD Player decided to stop ejecting CD's so I decided to install a Kenwood CD Player (KDC-348U) the Friday after Thanksgiving before going on a trip to Missouri. Turned out well. Below is a picture of the installed CD Player. Here is the LINK for some install hints.
Lift Install (Front)
I received all of my lift components last week and decided to install it over the weekend. I started Friday night and finished Saturday morning.
The lift I installed is the 'Kolak Lift':
OME HD Coils
Bilstein 5100/5125 Shocks
JKS Adjustable Track Bar
Rancho HD Steering Stabilizer
New Spring Isolators
Also, I added in Zone Sway Bar End Links and IRO Upper Spring Retainers.
And here we go!
First, soak everything in a penetrant such as Liquid Wrench, PB Blaster, Deep Creep, etc. in advance. I sprayed everything a few weeks before starting this project and then again the night before. The pesky bolts received a third soaking when they wouldn't break loose. I really recommend doing this multiple times during the week before installing the lift.
Once the penetrant has soaked in for a while, jack up the Jeep (my helper and younger brother, Nicholas) and set both the front driver and passenger side on jack stands:
Remove the tire (good shots of the suspension in its stock form):
Loosen all of the control arm bolts. Changing the suspension height puts added stress on the control arm bushings. By loosening the control arm bolts and then tightening them after the lift install, you reduce the wear on the bushings.
Remove the sway bar end link and the shock's top bolt. To remove the shock's top bolt, Nicholas grabbed the shock bolt directly below the bushing washer with a pair of plyers while I unscrewed the nut on the top side with an extension and an impact wrench (if you don't have one, get one. It makes this job so much easier!).
The axle will droop/fall when these are let loose. I recommend placing a jack under the axle on each side when you remove these pieces so you have control over the droop of the axle.
At this point, once you remove the bottom bolts on the shock, the shock and spring will just lift right out. Here is a shot of the old standard spring next to the OME HD front spring:
Also, once the spring is removed, the isolators will be able to be removed. A pry bar or screw driver will aid in the removal. Old VS New:
And the rusty spring perch. I cleaned it up and sprayed it with rustoleum to help slow the degredation:
I installed IRO Upper Spring Retainers. To do this, you need to tap the hole in the upper spring perch with a 1/2-20 fine thread tap (this is the passenger side. I forgot to take a pic of the drivers side):
Once the hole is threaded, install the new isolators, place the new spring on the lower isolator, drop the spring retainer with the bolt inside of it into the spring, push the spring into the upper spring retainer, then lift the spring retainer into its location and screw the bolt in. I also applied thread lock onto the bolt's threads. There is another option (and possibly better) involving welding a longer bolt into the spring perch and bolting the spring retainer on from the lower portion. I installed it the way I did because I did not have my welder at my new house. If I have issues with the spring retainer falling out, I will be doing the welding trick. Also, to install the bilstein shocks, you will need to buy bolts, washers, and nuts: "The hardware you will need is 4 5/16-18 x 1-1/4" bolts Grade 5 [or 8], 8 small 5/16" washers (grade 8), and 4 5/16" Grade 8 nylock nuts." - Thanks billzcat1:
Next, install the new end link:
Repeat for passenger side.
And the passenger side spring isolators (New VS Old):
Once the passenger side is done, swap out the steering stabilizer (I forgot to install the boot...:():
NOTE: In the following two pictures, the track bar is on backwards. Further down I posted a picture of the track bar on properly as well as the boot on the steering stabilizer.
Next, remove the track bar. The body can be centered above the axle by using a heavy duty ratchet strap. Center the axle and install the track bar:
Once you've installed everything, install the wheels and lower the vehicle back to the ground. Torque everything in the front end to spec at this point.
Lift Install (Rear)
Now we move on to the rear.
Jack up the rear and place on jack stands on both sides. Remove the wheels and loosen the control arm bolts:
Another shot of the stock rear suspension:
Remove the sway bar end link and the shock. Again, I recommend placing a jack under the axle in an attempt to prevent it from falling to the ground:
At this point, the spring should be loose:
Remove the spring isolators:
Again, I sprayed the spring perches with rustoleum:
Old Springs and Isolators VS New Springs and Isolators:
Old Sway Bar End Link VS New Sway Bar End Link:
And now magically everything is installed! Haha. I must have missed taking some pictures here. Install the new isolators and slip the rear spring in. Once that is in, install the new shock and the new sway bar end link:
Repeat for passenger side.
Install wheels/tires, lower vehicle, and torque EVERYTHING back to specs.
I should note, I did not need a spring compressor to do this install. I had one in the garage but did not use it. I was able to get the springs in by jacking up the opposite side of the axle with the sway bar disconnected. This was easy for me. Some may find it is easier to use a spring compressor. I will also add, if you use a spring compressor, I recommend wrapping the spring with a ratchet strap and keeping it tight as well. If for some strange reason the compressor were to fail, the ratchet strap should slow down the release of the spring's pressure, possibly preventing a bad outcome to a lift install.
And here are the before and after pictures (currently on 225/75R16's). I am getting tires installed on Thursday and also getting the vehicle aligned some time this week.
Side Shot Before:
Side Shot After:
Ground Clearance After (Before Tires):
Overall, this lift was not too difficult to install. I think the hardest part was deciding on which lift/height to go! :)
Once I get the new tires installed (I'm ordering them tomorrow), I will post more pictures with initial and final measurements. I think I am going to go with 245/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs though it has also been suggested I bump it up to 265/75R16 Duratracs. Also, KM2's and BFG A/T's have been suggested to me. Feel free to offer advice/comments!
One final note, call me crazy but what is this (on top of where the brake lines come together, notice the tube that has slipped? - My axle droop may cause this to pop off...):
Lift looks great!
Gotta love a lot of pictures, helps a lot of people too!
I might be crazy and have mine on the wrong way, but I think your track bar is backwards?
Damnit. I believe you are correct. Haha. I looked at JKS's instructions for that like 3 times and for some reason my mind told me the correct install was backwards. Oh well, at least that's easy to flip over. I just pulled the instructions back up and it says the solid end goes on the chassis.
I'm an idiot. Thanks for catching that!
Looks like a great start, what are you planning on for tires?
Right on. I would have thought that would have been on the differential housing.
I think I'm going with 245/75R16 (31) Duratracs. It has been suggested to me to go to 265/75R16 (32) Duratracs and incorporate bump stops but I'm afraid that's too much tire.
Also, the guys at Discount Tire are trying to suggest to me BFG KM2's or BFG A/T. Any thoughts/input?
Just ordered 245/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs. I went with the C rating as opposed to the E rating per suggestions. Should be here tomorrow!
Thanks for the suggestions as well. I considered the KM2's but the price was quite a bit higher and I was kind of stuck on the Duratracs already.
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