Tuesday, March 1, 2022

What to Expect When You Lift Your Jeep

Consequences of Lifting Your 4x4 Rig

35's

(Updated January 2024) Lifting your Jeep is a modification that opens up new possibilities for off-road adventures. However, it's crucial to approach the process with a comprehensive understanding of the implications of various components.

Lifting your Jeep is a popular modification among off-road enthusiasts, providing increased ground clearance and the ability to conquer challenging terrains. However, this modification comes with a set of considerations that extend beyond the aesthetic appeal. Let's explore what to expect when you decide to lift your Jeep, covering crucial aspects such as drivelines, tires, gearing, speedometer, brake lines, steering geometry, alignment, negative driving characteristics, C gussets, miles per gallon, and garage clearance.

Must Do Mods When You Lift Your Jeep 👉 Watch Here

Nate and I discuss What to Expect when you lift your Jeep on the Off-Road Insiders Podcast - Episode 14 👉 Watch Here

Must Do Mods When You Lift Your Jeep 👉 Watch Here

Gearing

Lifting your Jeep alters the factory gearing, potentially affecting overall performance. Upgrading the gearing ratio may be necessary to maintain power and efficiency, especially if you've installed larger tires. Proper gearing ensures that your Jeep operates smoothly and efficiently in various driving conditions.


Speedometer

A change in tire size or gearing can lead to inaccuracies in your Jeep's speedometer. To maintain accurate speed readings, you may need to recalibrate the speedometer or invest in aftermarket solutions. This ensures that you adhere to speed limits and have a better understanding of your vehicle's actual speed.


Brake Lines

Lifting your Jeep may require extending or replacing brake lines to accommodate the new height. Adequate brake line length is crucial for maintaining proper brake function and preventing damage during off-road adventures. Upgrading to stainless steel brake lines can provide added durability and resistance to corrosion.


Lift Your Jeep Could Mean Longer Brake Lines.

Miles Per Gallon 

Lifting your Jeep and fitting larger tires can impact fuel efficiency. The additional weight and increased aerodynamic drag may result in a decrease in miles per gallon. Consider this factor when planning your lifted Jeep, and be prepared for potential changes in fuel consumption. I went from 16 miles per gallon to 13 miles per gallon. Not a deal breaker for me but some it may be. 


Lifting Your Jeep Means a Driveshaft Update


Drivelines

Lifting your Jeep alters the driveline angles, affecting the way power is transmitted from the engine to the wheels. It's essential to consider upgrading your drivelines to accommodate the increased height. A proper driveline setup ensures optimal performance and prevents issues like vibrations and premature wear.


Front Driveshaft

During regular maintenance checkups, we began to notice oil splatter on the underside of my Jeep. It turns out my factory front driveshaft was on it’s last legs. The factory front driveshaft has a rzeppa joint. This joint has a boot which protects it’s guts. Mine had been flexed to it’s limits. 

Driveshaft Issues from a Jeep Lift.

This boot cannot hold up to the stress of the added lift . With all the flexing I did which wasn’t a lot maybe once a month wheeling, it began to crack and split. Then it began spewing grease. You can’t refill the grease on the OEM driveshaft, so it will eventually break. 


More Driveshaft issues from a Jeep Lift. 

These stock driveshaft's also are larger in diameter. So when you lift your Jeep to fit those bigger tires it can cause the OEM Driveshaft to possibly rest on the exhaust which causes more issues. 


Ball Joints

They are another weak point from the bigger tires. I lifted and added 35” tires to my Jeep in 2016. I would go wheeling to Rauch Creek Off Road Park, The Cove in Virginia and Uwharrie in North Carolina. These were all highway miles to and from the parks once a month during those three years. Plus, I used my Jeep as a daily driver going to and from work and errands in town. In 2019, three years after the lift my ball joints failed. I replaced them with an aftermarket ball joint. 

That cost me about $600 for the parts and labor. I should of taken the advice of my mechanic in Maryland. He suggested I just go with the OEM ball joints. The aftermarket ball joints took 500 miles to properly seat. Those 500 miles of driving were the most intense miles of driving in my life.  


Suspension  

There are several places you will want to upgrade.


Steering Geometry

Lifting alters the Jeep's steering geometry, impacting handling and stability. It's essential to invest in a proper lift kit with components that address steering geometry concerns. This ensures a balanced and responsive steering system, maintaining control both on and off-road.



C Gussets

C gussets strengthen the connection between the axle and control arms, preventing potential damage caused by off-road stresses. Upgrading C gussets is advisable, especially if you plan on pushing your lifted Jeep to its limits on challenging terrains. I was able to add more strength by welding the C-gussets. Beefier shock mounts and control arm mounts are a good idea as well.  


Alignment

A proper alignment is crucial after lifting your Jeep to avoid uneven tire wear and ensure stability. Professional alignment services are recommended to fine-tune the suspension components, steering angles, and camber settings, providing a smooth and controlled driving experience.


Negative Driving Characteristics

While lifting your Jeep enhances off-road performance, it can introduce some negative driving characteristics on-road. These may include increased body roll, reduced aerodynamics, and changes in handling dynamics. It's essential to be aware of these aspects and adjust your driving style accordingly.


Garage Clearance 

Finally, don't forget to consider your Jeep's new height in relation to garage clearances, parking structures, and other overhead obstacles. Being mindful of these limitations helps prevent unintentional damage and ensures a smooth transition between on and off-road environments.

My 3.5” lift and 35” tires fit in my garage. However, if I was driving with my top in the Sunrider position, I couldn’t fit in my garage. There were many, many times I forgot the top was up and would make a huge racket driving into the garage. Not good for that soft top, tearing it up on the garage door.


Must Do Regular Checks 

Regular maintenance checks and "at home" checks are necessary to keep and eye on potential problems. You will want to catch these problems before they become catastrophes. 

The inner tie rod ends can go bad as well as those control arms, on the Jk’s and JKU’s especially if you wheel. If you take your Jeep off road at some point you will most likely at some point come down hard on them, which can alter the geometry. Like I did.  It’s a good idea to watch the tread wear on your tires. Getting regular alignments is a good way to detect bad geometry. You should also do at home check to make sure everything is holding up.

Inspecting the movement of your tires is important to detect problems.  First make sure you can unload the Jeep’s suspension. That means getting your Jeep up on jacks so your front tires can freely move.  By moving your tires in different directions will give you an idea of which issue it may be. Putting a big pry bar under the bottom of the tire and trying to move it up and down. If there is play this could be bad ball joints. 

Taking one hand at the 12 o’clock position and the other at the 6 pm position and moving your tire back and forth, feeling for movement and play. If you have the movement that usually means wheel bearings. 

The 3 pm and 9 pm position doing the same thing would most likely be bad inner tie rod ends. Do your due diligence though, research thoroughly. It may not always be a bad tie rod end. Look closely at that tie rod movement. It could also be your steering knuckle. Just like mine. The hole got wallowed out. 

I had to replace my steering knuckle. Be careful when choosing your replacement. Those aftermarket knuckles could require a certain size lift and certainly upgraded steering. 

Good routine maintenance and visual checks along with the tire check can hopefully find problems before they become catastrophes. Like I said in part one Bigger isn’t always Better. Some may think bigger is better but I can tell you for sure Bigger drains your bank account.

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