Wheel Spacers Required on my FDII with RRO Lift
I found out yesterday that I'm going to have to run 1-1/4" spacers on the rear wheels to prevent an issue with the sidewall rubbing the strut tower at full extension. I also found out that my front tires are beginning to cup after 2,500 miles…a little over a 100 of those miles have been on rough Forest Service roads in the Arizona Rim/Mountain country.
I did the RRO Lift install myself and took it to the tire shop immediately for tires (245/65 R17 Bridgestone Dueler Revo's on OEM alloy's) and then immediately the local dealer for the alignment. My Patriot (2007 Limited - Trail Rated version) had about 6,700 miles on it at the time I installed the lift and new tires…it just clicked 9,000 miles and the odometer is now understated by approximately 6% with the larger tires.
The Jeep dealer (Airpark Jeep - Scottsdale, AZ) I took it to regularly deals with new and used lifted Wranglers (they offer a full package lift/wench/bumper/tire system for their new Wranglers). Needless to say I figured they knew what they were doing…I was wrong…it all started at the tire dealer (Discount Tire – they are awesome), they weren’t able to mount the rim w/new tire on the left rear because there wasn’t any clearance against the strut tower…the right side had only a hair's width of clearance…I just had them mount the spare so that I could get it over to the dealer where they could adjust the geometry to mount the rim w/new tire. Upon arriving at the dealer, they didn’t even want to touch the Patriot at first but then they had the suspension tech come out and look at it…I guess Cherokee's, Liberty's (and now Patriot's) are a pain for them to lift and work on; plus customers are usually never happy with the result. I explained the whole lift to the suspension tech while he crawled under the Jeep. The service writer wanted to quote me $300 for the alignment but the tech said he would only need an extra hour of labor, so the quote came to $150 for the alignment…I wasn’t happy with this because of what I read others were paying, but I figured they knew what they were doing. I left and 5 hours went by with no call…I ended up calling to check on it and the service writer said he was still working on it and had been for a better part of the afternoon…I said that he could’ve had the lift installed and aligned within 4hrs…then I asked about the wheel and they still hadn’t got the wheel mounted…he said the tech was having all kinds of troubles trying to align it. This made me a little nervous…I just kept seeing $$$ float through the air. I left work 90 min. later to get some booze at near by happy hour spot while I waited for the dealer to call. Before I stopped off for the booze I decided to personally check in on the Patriot…turns out they were just getting ready to wash it…I was relieved…they got the wheel on and it was aligned and they kept to their $150 quote despite taking the entire afternoon to work on it…it drove smooth and straight…all was good, so I thought.
I figured I should have the Patriot looked over since I'd gone about 2,500 miles with two off paved road journey's where I put it through some decent tests that most crossover/small SUV's would fail or sustain damage trying to complete…the lifted FDII passed with flying colors. I wish had pictures to post but I just lost the camera with all the good shots of it covered in mud – so much mud that it put the engine fans off balance, leading to a nasty vehicle vibration…I thought the A/C compressor was damaged after I checked a TSB on the site…turns out I was wrong and the dealer told me I just needed to clean the caked on mud off the fan blades…I did and it all is back to normal :)
So why have it looked at if it drives smooth and straight…well, every time I would look at the wheels, I would question if the toe and camber were correct; add in the fact that I wasn’t impressed with the whole alignment experience at the Jeep dealer and I figured that for piece of mind it wouldn’t hurt to have some professionals look it over. So I decided to take it to a local off road performance shop (Off Road Unlimited) to have them check the alignment and look everything else over…cost was $80 for the check up. Good news is the suspension looked was okay and they didn't have any concerns with the lift or affects on the drive train. Bad news was both rear tires were hitting the strut tower springs and the front tires were beginning to cup. It turns out the left rear wheel is so bad that the spring is pushing in the sidewall by about a quarter of an inch when the suspension is fully extended…the right rear is rubbing slightly too. The sidewalls didn’t show any signs of rubbing but that’s only because I haven’t wheeled the Patriot on extreme enough trails to lift the rear wheels off the ground (we all know from the Expeditions West reviews online that this is easily done and should be expected when taking our rides off road). Since the underneath of the Jeep was covered in mud, they could tell I plan on using my Jeep off road…I was warned that if I ran this off road in this condition, I would risk ripping up the sidewall and blowing the tire…not safe! It appears that the Jeep dealer doing the alignment would have had to air down the tire in order to mount it to the Patriot and then air it back up once is was lowered to the ground. I can't believe the dealer did this and let me leave without any warning…especially when I had a conversation with the Service Writer earlier in the day about possibly having to go with different rims or spacers in order to get this size tire to fit.
Now Off Road Unlimited gave me two options: wheel spacers or new rims with backspacing to correct the issue. I'm going the more cost effective route…wheel spacers on the rear only. They're $200 total and they'll be 1-1/4" custom made aluminum spacers…it's not recommended to go any less than 1-1/4" because the mounting studs wouldn’t be long enough to be safe. I was assured that I shouldn't have an issue with a spacer this small…it's the 3" to 5" spacers that are not good. I’m just hoping that pushing the rear wheels out a little over an inch won't negatively impact the looks of the Patriot too much.
The cupping of the front tires was caught early enough that it should be fixed by rotating them to the back and getting a new alignment ($100 for a new alignment). They are also going to grease my new bushings that are making noise and adjust the front fender wells to fix the rubbing up front (that rubbing is a known issue with this lift and larger tires)…all this should be done late this week or early next week since they have had to order the spacers.
As I mentioned earlier, I have lost my digital camera (gone forever…new one is in the snail mail system) with all my mudd’n pics. I plan to borrow my brothers camera to document the rubbing before the new spacers are installed…I’ll post them as soon as possible…look for them by 8/25/2008. I'll also find out what they are going to spray on my bushings so that I can pass that advice on too.
This doesn’t change my feelings towards the RRO lift and larger tires…I would still get them in a minute for any 4x4 Patriot…they just make it look more like what it should've from the factory...plus it gives me more confidence that a rock/obstacle won't tear the underneath of the Jeep up. What I would recommend is spending the couple hundred dollars up front to have a true off road shop that regularly deals in custom vehicles do the entire install (lift, tires, spacers, alignment)...would’ve saved me time, money, and anguish...or I guess now you could just get spacers and do it all yourself...just go to a good alignment shop that deals in lifted vehicles.
Last edited by AZ_Boilermaker; 08-20-2008 at 05:31 PM.