I went with a Rancho 3.5" Short Arm Kit
from 4WD Hardware
, RS9000XL shocks
, 33x12.5 Goodyear Duratracs
on Black painted Canyons with 1.5" wheel spacers.
Living in WI I was fighting rusted up and seized bolts more than anything else. So, getting things off required some effort with penetrating spray, cut off wheels, grinders and sometimes the torch. This was the worst and most time consuming part of the whole thing.
There were no major troubles getting things put together. The kit is very complete, including an adjustable front track bar, rear extended sway bar links, rear track bar bracket, 4 lower control arms, transfer case drop kit, transfer case shift linkage kit, dropped pitman arm, bump stop extensions, front sway bar disconnects and extended stainless steel front brake lines. Here are my notes:
I soaked everything to be removed in Kroil penetrating lube daily for a week before starting. I also pre-assembled anything with bushing and sleeves that I could. The lower control arm bolts were seized to the bushing sleeves so they were cut off. The directions say to reuse the hardware, so I had to replace the hardware that was cut off. Thankfully most of the remaining front end items came off without issue.
Most things here went smoothly. With some measuring I got the front axle centered up nicely with the adjustable track bar. I had to use a spring compressor to get the front springs in. **I chose to not use the included dropped pitman arm since I was not using a dropped track bar bracket. This was the right choice as the track bar and drag link are at nearly identical angles and I have no bump steer what so ever.
The rear was coming off wonderfully until we got to the track bar. The axle bolt has a torx head on it. Really? WTF? The axle bolt and frame bolt were seized up and there is not a lot of room to work up there. The decision was made to keep moving forward by cutting the track bar in half, removing brake hose, ebrake lines and eventually the rear axle. I ran in and ordered up a new track bar on Rockauto and we went for it. Everything came off really nicely and this allowed my 14 year old son to work on grinding off the track bar axle bolt head while I worked on the frame bolt. The only other thing that took some time was the top shock bolts braking off which is pretty typical.
The rear installation went well. The hardest thing was getting the track bar bolt holes lined up at the frame side. There was creative use of a ratchet strap, pry bar and pushing on body to get it to go. Torqued everything and rechecked the torques on everything, bled the brakes, installed the wheel spacers and went for a ride... VIBES! It was still a cool feeling, but I soaked and heated the cross member bolts to install the lowering kit. I was blessed as all of the bolts came out without trouble. It solved the vibes, but I will look into a SYE and drive shaft in the future. **I also skipped the transfer case shift kit included in the kit since my linkage brackets were all rusted up and I decided to go with the Novak cable shifter
3.5" on 33s feels huge compared to stock, but I love it. There is lots of room to flex without hitting anything and the wheel spacers kept the rear out of the coil buckets and allow for full turning without adjusting the stops. It also sits level now. It rides nice with the shocks on the softest setting (1) up front and (3) in the rear, there are no squeaks or rattles. FYI: I was replacing what looked like the original springs and shocks (175,000 miles) along with replacing tires that were getting pretty bad so almost anything would have been better.
Picture in the woods is stock, picture in the driveway is modified, last picture is posing on a retaining wall to flex it out.
The honeymoon feeling of a new lift quickly wears out. After 1 year I started replacing the control arms for extremely harsh ride from the poly bushings, they have no flex and with the stiff lower control arms the ride is horrible. There is also no adjustability so you will have vibes. Track bar frame side TRE shot after 1 year, replaced just the end once, then replaced the whole bar. The only thing left from this kit on my Jeep are the springs and front quick disconnects (which I actually like). I now ride on Metal Cloak control arms (all 8) Metal Cloak front trac bar and metal cloak rear trac bar.