A year ago at this time I was scouring the interwebs until 3AM for parts to stretch my tax return to complete the sorely needed suspension repairs to my 2002 Jeep Liberty Sport 4x4. The front springs were sagging when I bought her and after a year of daily driving the whole IFS system was done for. I went with Australia’s Ironman Suspension for the value but also because of the overwhelmingly positive reviews from long term users in the Outback and their high load rating. When the parts arrived it was an impressive little pile; Ironman springs and struts, KYB shocks, JBA strut spacer plates, HD lower ball joints, HD UCA’s, MOPAR skid plates and rear spring iso’s, belt tensioner, hatch lifts, and TreadWright 245/75R16 Guard Dogs.
The install was a three day fight on all fronts. A fight to find someone to assemble the struts and springs, a fight to get 110,000 mile chassis to release her bones, and a fight to stuff the enlarged IFS system back in. Admittedly, much of my swearing and bloody knuckles could have been avoided by having some patience and asking for help. Eventually all the boxes were empty and all the tools put away and it was time to roll out of the garage… about 20 feet. Because that’s how long it took to figure out we forgot to tighten the UCA bolts or fill the lower ball joints with grease. FMYLIFE.
After a lot more swearing my Ironman KJ was ready to sling mud. And it did. A lot. It also caught a lot of air, hit a lot of rocks, knocked down a lot of trees, left a lot of ruts, and created a ridiculous amount of ear-to-ear grins.
My first impressions of the street ride post-lift were mixed. The ride was pretty stiff and although I purposely ordered the diesel/winch bumper rated springs, I was not expecting to feel every grain of sand I rolled over. On the bright side, I felt every grain of sand under tire. The Ironman springs and struts let you know exactly where the limits are and is very forgiving when you decide to push them. Even in a full power slide on asphalt the front end stays right where you point it and the amount of sideways is easily controlled by the go-pedal.
The stock chassis is good and even with 3+” of lift body roll when cornering hard is amazingly minimal. When you aren’t pushing the limits the Ironman KJ is actually quite good, on surface streets and highways it drives straight and smooth, doesn’t weave, wander, or wiggle, and generally behaves like a normal vehicle. The beefed up load capacity come in handy when hauling a couple thousand pounds of sandbags and lumber back from Home Depot and around the property. On brick and speed bumps it really shines, the roughest of brick roads are merely a change in tire noise and I don’t even feel even the most monstrous of speed bumps.
When I said it was a yearlong “Torture Test”, I meant exactly that. I never got bumpstops:
eek:, never greased anything, rarely washed it, and often went full retard. In the city I hit every curb, speed bump, parking stop I could find just because I could. At the local mudhole my KJ made a lot of people eat their words. In the depths of Ocala National Forest my Ironman KJ left me without words. No matter how asinine the situation I put the Jeep in Ironman kept the rubber side down and planted. Crossing downed trees, deep ruts, and ditches can be done without worrying about approach angle or speed because the suspension just seems to always find traction somewhere. Big climbs and drop offs are only made difficult by the KJ’s insane curb weight which causes some pretty bad bottoming on the really big hits. Even the longest stretches of sugar sand are merely a matter of having the stones to keep your foot down, picking a line, and then being willing to change that line in a split second. Crawling uphill off angle corners is simply a matter of easing in and powering out. Speaking of powering out; high speed, full throttle, 4x4, four wheel drifts on washboard clay fire roads… F&%#ING AWSOME!!! The girlfriend’s handprint is permanently molded into the Oh S#!& Handle but I don’t care because I am Collin McRae reincarnate.
A year later I sit here scouring the interwebs, stretching my tax return to cover all the stuff the jeep needs. What broke, you ask? Nothing. Not one piece that went on a year ago is in anything but perfect working order. The Ironman Suspension has taken every single bit of the absolutely ridiculous and sometimes just plain mean things my twisted mind could come up with and not complained one little bit. Over the past year I’ve changed the oil, replaced a window regulator, rotated tires, and replaced the front brakes. That’s it. The alignment is totally screwed, I still need to get those extended bumpstops, some of the suspension and chassis bushings are pretty squeaky and another window regulator died. Either the front diff or transmission or both are leaking. Both diffs, the transmission and t-case all need fluid changes. The front driveshaft cv joints are finished and I think the rear diff or u-joints are making noise. Also, the Tread Wright Guard Dogs were awesome tires, providing an unbelievable amount of traction in a wide variety of terrain. But they wear fast and funny and get continuously louder until they are rotated. By the time I get to an oil change/ tire rotation the tire noise is so loud it gives me migraines
so I plan on getting an extra set of rims with 245/75 highway tires. If there’s any cash left I’ll re-tint the windows, throw on a roof rack and install HID’s.
It may not be a “real Jeep” to the Wrangler guys, but that didn’t seem to matter when they need a pull. And guess what? I stay clean, dry, and air conditioned through it all. The HUMMER guys? Funny, I haven’t ever actually seen one in mud… oh wait I did see that one pretty white H2 buried back there by the entrance to the mudhole…
we should maybe help him on the way back out.