ExtremeTerrain’s Definitive Jeep Lift Kit Guide

To help weed through the many reasons and ways to lift a Jeep, ExtremeTerrain has spent the time to put together a huge resource to help guide you through it, “ExtremeTerrain’s Definitive Jeep Lift Kit Guide“. The massive guide covers Wranglers from the 1980s YJ to the late-model JK. The information provided is helpful for beginners and advanced alike. The whole thing starts with explaining what a lift kit is.

 

Lift kits are broken down into four categories – body lift, spacer lift, short arm lift and long arm lift. Before breaking down what each of them are and do, the guide asks you to evaluate your Jeep and your goals.

Some of the more important questions to ask:

  • What is your Jeep being used for?
  • What size and type of tires would you like to use?
  • What are you willing to spend on your Jeep’s lift?

Answering the questions and reading the considerations before deciding on your lift will greatly improve your satisfaction with the end result.

Wrangler Suspension Infographic

The above infographic lists out suspension component terms and locations. The Jeep pictured is a JK Wrangler. Many of the Wranglers have similarities across the board.

Different Types Of Lifts

Body Lifts

Body lifts are typically the least expensive way to get your vehicle higher. Generally, with a $200 or less investment in parts, your Jeep can be raised 1-3 inches. There are, however, downfalls. Body lifts work by increasing the space between the frame and the body. When doing this type of lift, extension brackets and spacers also need to be added for the radiator, shifter linkages, fuel fillers, and more.

Spacer Lifts

Also known as “budget boosts,” spacer lifts are an inexpensive way to add suspension height to your vehicle. They are usually easy to install, but usua the ride quality, especially if new longer shocks are not installed. Without longer shocks, suspension travel is limited.

A TJ Wrangler with a 1.5-inch budget boost.

Short Arm Lifts/Leaf Spring Lifts

Wrangler Control Arms

Many short arm lift kits come with adjustable control arms. The adjustability allows the front suspension to be optimized for proper alignment and pinion angle.

Short arm lifts use the stock control arm mounting locations on the OEM coil spring suspension system. This does not apply to YJ Wranglers, as they are set up with leaf springs front and rear.

Generally the most common suspension lift, short arm lifts are mid-level priced with effectiveness to match. Lift heights range from 2-6 inches and the component list grows the higher the lift. Most kits include replacement coil springs, lower adjustable control arms, longer shocks, and all of the required odds and ends. Depending on the height of the vehicle, additional items may be needed such as slip yoke eliminators (SYE) and driveshafts.

Long Arm Lifts

A Rough Country long arm kit for the TJ.

Long arm suspension lifts are at the premium end of the spectrum, not including full-tilt custom race designed components. The idea behind long arms is to bring the suspension geometry  angles back to where they need to be with larger lifts by moving the mount points toward the center of the vehicle. Though typically expensive, long arm lifts offer the most performance gains by allowing a smoother ride and longer travel when set up with the right shocks.

But What Is The Point Of A Lift?

Simply put, the typical purpose of a lift is to gain clearance for larger tires, followed closely by better performance and ride. Each of the models of the Wrangler are a bit different on lift height requirements for common tire heights. The fenders and fender flares play a substantial role in what fits and doesn’t fit.

ExtremeTerrain created a few infographics to help better visualize the height and tire difference on JK Wranglers.

YJ Lift and Tire Combination Reference Chart

TJ Lift and Tire Combination Reference Chart

JK 2-door Lift and Tire Combination Reference Chart

JKU 4-door Lift and Tire Combination Reference Chart

The above quick reference guides will help determine the lift and tire height requirements for your build. Green cells show no modifications required. Yellow cells show flare modifications needed. Red cells show extensive fender flare modifications needed and black cells are not recommended unless you are comfortable with extensive custom fabrication.

Go with What Makes You Comfortable

The guide is far more extensive than we are showing here. At the end of it all, make sure you are comfortable with the modifications you are doing and how much you are spending. Check out the guide for yourself – ExtremeTerrain’s Definitive Jeep Lift Kit Guide. And don’t forget to head over to ExtremeTerrain to get the parts you need.

Article Sources

About the author

Jake Headlee

Jake's passion started at a young age wrenching on cars with his Dad. Obtaining that glorious driver's license sparked his obsession with grease and horsepower, and the rest is history. Soon, he was a general mechanic and suspension specialist, and currently designs and modifies products for the off-road industry. Jake enjoys rock crawling, desert racing and trail running, and writing in his spare time.
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