Balancing Act: Eibach All-Terrain-Lift Kit Install On Jeep JKU

EIBACHLIFTKITLEADART_1_edited-1Any Jeep Wrangler worth its salt is either upgraded or on its way to another modification. In the case of this gray 2013 Sport Unlimited model, however, bone stock was the name of the game when it first showed up to our garage.

IMG_4708Belonging to Mary McGregor, the JKU has, up until now, been a little bit scared of the dirt. The owner has admittedly not taken it off-road just yet, but she has a hankering to do so. Starting with this first phase, she’s already well on her way to more mud-thrashing, rock-climbing glory–all thanks to the folks at Eibach.

As longtime supporters of motorsport and aftermarket applications, Eibach has elevated to the top tier of performance suspension components. The groundwork the company laid in its legendary springs has gradually broadened to also include shock absorbers, wheel spacers, sway bars, and more. All of its experience in crafting these body control parts has culminated in the All-Terrain-Lift Kit (P/N 2897.980), now available for the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

With the JKU in our garage, the kit seeks to bolster everything about the Jeeping experience, both on-road and off. We’ll get to that in a little bit. First, let’s explore the product and the changes it brings to the stock suspension setup.

IMG_4390Striking A Balance

Within the realm of lift kits, one can find some variation depending on their needs. The first type of kit provides a pure and simple lift, either through the use of lift blocks or coil spacers. The increase in height is typically minimal and doesn’t require much in the way of supplemental components like extended brake lines or sway bar end links.

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The kit comes prepared with everything needed to make the install happen, from shocks to springs to end links and more.

For folks who just want that extra bit of clearance–from one-half to two inches, let’s say–these kits fit the bill just fine. They’ve either decided they want to step up a tire size or prefer the extra visibility they get from the modification, and can put up with a slightly stiffer ride and higher center of gravity. It’s when a user wants to go greater than two inches that other factors should be considered.

Here’s where the second type of kit comes into play. The higher one goes in lift, the more they should account for the severe changes that will affect their ride quality. Body roll, vibrations and harshness, and other unpleasant side effects will emerge, but they can be negated with the use of a properly arranged kit. Such is the case with the All-Terrain-Lift Kit, which raises the overall vehicle height by 3.5 inches.

Speaking on the subject of the All-Terrain-Lift kit’s origins, Eibach’s own Mark Krumme had this to say: “The road manners were the first focus on this kit. We understand owners spend a majority of their time on-road, so we tested multiple spring combinations, from higher rate progressive coils to lower rate linear coils, and came to a solution that offers increased ride comfort over the factory setup.”

We wanted to develop a kit based around Eibach’s legendary balance of performance and ride quality. What this system offers users is 3.5 inches of controlled, road-friendly lift. –Mark Krumme, Eibach

“From there, we hit the trail with a focus on versatility and control over varying terrain. With the help of off-road racers and our suspension experts, we developed a shock package that allows for considerable amounts of articulation, while maintaining control of the spring through high-speed ‘washboard’ or low-speed ‘whoop’ suspension travel. For the user, this maximizes tire contact, which translates into traction.”

Included in the kit are those extra essentials that make a big difference in the end result. Eibach’s Pro-Truck monotube shock absorbers soak up the hits and bumps along the way without trouble. Made right here in the U.S., the shocks have powder coated shock bodies that stand up to wear and tear. Maxima shock oil courses throughout the shock, maintaining a stable temperature at all times.

“As you know, each Pro-Truck Shock contains a 46 mm piston mated to hardened nitro-coated steel rods using our monotube technology,” said Krumme. “The additional piston surface area allows for more precise shock control through the entire range of travel, giving the driver a controlled, compliant ride quality.”  

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The Eibach steering stabilizer will ensure the front end doesn’t get away from us during off-road use.

The springs do most of the heavy lifting (pun intended), as one might expect from Eibach. The springs support much of the mass that these Jeeps are notorious for packing on as upgrades increase. Fuel cans, high-lift jacks, armor, and other such add-ons obviously increase the weight of a Wrangler, but these springs don’t buckle under the pressure thanks to Eibach’s expertise.

Springs and shocks alone are great, but they’re not the whole package. Eibach rounds out the kit with its bump stop spacers, adjustable end links, adjustable front track bar, rear track bar relocation brackets, and stainless steel extended brake lines. Add to that the two-year shock warranty and million-mile warranty for everything else, and it’s safe to say that our Jeep will come out just fine on the other side of this installation.

IMG_4455Break It Down, Build It Back Up

The JKU went onto our two-post Bendpak lift and we got to work. Wheels and tires are the first to go, and with a three-man team working on the vehicle, we’re able to handle both axles at the same time. At full droop, all of the stock components–sway bar end links, rear ABS line, rear axle vent tube breather, shock absorbers, brake lines, et cetera–all come off without too much fuss.

A ratchet strap was used on the front axle to keep it from swinging out, as well as free up movement.

A ratchet strap was used on the front axle to keep it from swinging out, as well as free up movement.

The next thing to go is the stock track bar. Since its performance will be negated by the new lift we’re putting on the Jeep, its adjustable replacement from Eibach will be a must-have for the later stages of this install. We steadied the axle from swinging out during this step by using ratchet straps, which also free up movement to aid in removal.

After we remove the track bar, we lower the axles onto jacks and remove the springs. The rear track bar is unmounted on the right side, because unlike the front, it gets reused with the help of the relocation bracket.

Up front, the bump stop mounts require bump stop spacers to account for the extra space created by the springs. The new spacer is centered onto the axle pad and marked for drilling. Once drilled through, a self-tapping screw (provided by Eibach) taps the hole to make way for the bolt that will secure the spacer to the pad.

The bump stop mounts are drilled (left) and tapped (right) to make way for the new spacers that will go on.

The new Eibach struts are installed on the upper mount on the front, followed by the springs, bump stop spacers, and struts. At the same time, the rear Eibach springs are fitted into place, followed by the extended sway bar end links, shock absorbers, and bump stop blocks.

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A comparison of the old stock spring (right) and the new Eibach spring (left). Taller, better-made, and using a similar spring rate, the new springs will give our Jeep the balance it needs to handle off-road and on-road use comfortably.

Next comes the brake lines. Once the old ones go away, the new brake lines have to be measured against them. The instructions tell us to measure 240 millimeters from the caliper side of the new brake line, since this is where the original brake line bracket will have its leading edge.

At this point, we came across a critical step. Seeing that the stock crossover tube of the Jeep’s exhaust would interfere with the kit’s new front driveline angle, we had to fabricate a new crossover tube to make it work. We thankfully had some spare tubing around and took care of the issue right there on the spot. For those looking to do this install, Eibach stresses that an aftermarket crossover tube be used to avoid this incident.

Looking good all around–the rear end (left), front track bar (middle), and steering stabilizer (right) are all taken care of.

Once we sorted out the crossover issue, we resumed the installation. The new brake lines were fitted with the original bracket in the front, while the rear ones were dealt with as well. The front track bar was adjusted in size to meet its new placement, followed by the installation of the steering stabilizer.

Last but not least was taking care of the brakes. Once the air was bled out of all four lines, the wheels and tires were refitted and the Jeep was ready to roll out.

Left: The brakes are bled to purge the lines of trapped air. Right: Once finished, the brake fluid is topped off.

Riding ImpressionsIMG_4675The first thing we noticed right away was the appreciable change in line-of-sight. Standing another 3.5 inches higher than before, we could easily feel the difference that was made in our field of vision compared to the stock setup. But that wasn’t all that changed.

Before and after.

A major draw of the kit was its on-road performance, and even without a proper alignment, Eibach’s claim of improved comfort was proven with our drive around the backroads of Murrieta, California. Bumps and potholes that used to buck passengers were now far less noticeable. The Pro-Truck shocks were definitely earning their money’s worth on this JKU.

IMG_4696Finally, we had to address what was on everyone’s minds at the outset of the build: what about the off-road performance? We were happy to report that the “testing grounds” next to the office–sections of fire trails with whoops, banks, and other obstacles–did a fine job of pushing the kit to its limits, and the kit did not disappoint. The springs could definitely flex the axles over a fair share of these whoops, and still keep us close to upright without bouncing anything around. Meanwhile, the shocks took the harshness out of our off-roading experience. We could sense the trail and its terrain, but we didn’t feel its nastier aspects like we did under the stock suspension setup.

Capability, comfort, and composure are three words that would best describe what riding around in a Jeep feels like after installing an All-Terrain-Lift kit from Eibach. But what about wheels and tires? Fear not; the solution is coming soon. Stay tuned for more modifications on this grey four-wheeler here on Off Road Xtreme!

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About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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