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Keep Your Jeep In Suspense: Choosing The Right Off-Road Shocks

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Dunes, rocks, and mud are just a few of the elements you may encounter when you go off-road with your Jeep. Tires are an important key factor in how you navigate the terrain, but what you may not know is that the suspension is just as important if not more so. The suspension is the support system that the tires depend on, so making sure your suspension can integrate and support the tires you choose will be important. If you’re considering a larger tire upgrade, one way to accommodate them is to use a lift kit. It will lift the body of the Jeep so that larger tires will function properly, and the suspension system will continue to provide the stability and flex you want and need.

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Purpose, Pros, and Cons

The purpose of a lift kit is to raise the body of the Jeep above the frame and allow more room for heftier shocks, increased flexibility in the springs, and more clearance for larger tires or those with a chunkier tread. Just a few inches, as little as two inches, can give you enough room to make significant changes to the tires, springs, and shocks. But some drivers who push their Jeeps to the limits will opt for 4-5-inch lifts for maximum clearance, performance, and undercarriage protection. The benefits to lifting a Jeep are that you get better ground clearance and angle approach options for trails and obstacles. You’ll also be ready for bigger tire size for traction and surface coverage. Another benefit to lifts is greater tire articulation for a tighter turning radius. Greater terrain versatility comes along with the territory because the body rests just a little higher than the trail and you’ll be less likely to high center if you’re climbing or straddling a rock formation. Lastly, a lift kit can just be a great boost to the overall look of a Jeep. If you’re interested in having an aggressive or tough looking ride, but don’t plan on going off-road, that’s acceptable – no judgements – if this is the case, a lift kit is just what you’ll need.

The cons to installing a lift kit may be that you’ll want to go off-road more often and go farther than the last time you went out. You may also want to push the Jeep and yourself to the limits and do things that might be considered ‘risky’. You may find yourself wanting more and more accessories, like different soft tops or a snorkel. You may also find yourself looking over your shoulder and grinning in the parking lot as you walk away from your Jeep. Okay, really, there isn’t a downside. All kidding aside, knowing what you want your Jeep to do for you and choosing the best lift kit for those needs will save you time and money, and we all know that is a big deal.

Kits and Packages

There are two basic packages depending on what you want or need: a budget-conscious boost system or a full body lift. A budget boost system will give you greater clearance, but with less equipment, time and effort to install. As the name suggests, it keeps the budget lower because less equipment and modification is involved. That means you can get a lift that will assist with light to slightly moderate off-roading, but it also means you won’t need to replace a driveshaft, extend brake lines, or re-gear the vehicle. They will likely not include adjustable control arms, brake lines, shocks, or sway bar disconnects.

So, while these kits are not intended for serious or heavy duty four wheeling, they will provide greater clearance for bigger tires and the undercarriage. It will provide some protection from minor trail damage and give you the opportunity to get off the pavement without getting heavily involved with off-roading. Full body lift kits are a must if you intend to get serious about rock climbing, mudding, or heavy-duty trail navigation. They give you all the benefits already mentioned – clearance, damage protections, room to up-size the tires, and a greater chance of conquering nearly any trail or obstacle thrown at it. A full body lift kit should include the following, but may not be limited to:

  • Longer aftermarket Jeep shocks
  • Bump stops or bump stop extensions
  • Track bar or brackets
  • Sway bar links
  • Transfer case lowering kit
  • Control arms
  • Either longer brake lines or brake line brackets

A full body lift can get as complicated as you want it to be. Adding more than 2-3 inches means that you will need to incorporate most if not all of the items listed. The upside is that it will get you in – and out – of nearly any place you can imagine taking your Jeep. The one downside to a full body lift is that you may lose some pavement driving comfort. It can make the suspension stiff for pavement but will serve you well on the trail. It’s just another great reason to know what you want to do with your Jeep before you invest. Take care of your Jeep and it will take care of you.

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