Review & Install Video
I'm Ryan from ExtremeTerrain.com, and today we have a two-door JK that came to us completely stocked, except for the grab handles and the shorty antennae. It was rolling on these wheels and tires, which you knew we couldn't let happen. So with this build we knew we wanted to run a larger set of wheels and tires to give the Jeep that tougher, beefier look. So to clear those new tires, we decided to install a TeraFlex two and a half-inch lift kit with shocks. As far as the tires themselves go, we didn't want to go up to a 35-inch tire, which can provide some performance decreases or require re-gearing. So to not have to deal with those issues, we went with a set of 33-inch tires by 12 inches wide.
As far as supporting mods, we've installed the TeraFlex Monster Front Adjustable Trackbar, a TeraFlex Steering Stabilizer to replace the leaky factory one that was on the Jeep, and to go along with the beefier look, we decided to install the Barricade Trail Force HD Front Bumper. So, let me walk you through the build. We chose this TeraFlex two and a half-inch lift kit with shocks because it's really complete. The kit includes, of course, four new coil springs that provide you that two and a half inches of lift, but they're also going to be stiffer, which will help with the additional weight of our new front bumper. The kit also includes four TeraFlex Nitro Shocks. The nitrogen charge in the shock can help to prevent foaming and cavitation that can sometimes occur when you work a shock really hard.
That foaming and cavitation will eventually cause shock fade. A nitrogen shock will generally ride a little bit stiffer than a hydraulic shock, but a lot of people like that, especially on the road, because it helps to control body roll. On top of those main components, this kit also includes new sway bar end links for the rear of the Jeep, allowing you to then use the factory rear links up front, and it includes brake line relocation brackets for the back of the Jeep. This is one area that I would recommend adding a component if you're going to take the Jeep off road. Our front brake lines do get a little bit tight at full droop, so if you're going to be flexing the suspension, I'd recommend adding a new set of front brake lines that are a little bit longer, or at the very least a brake line relocation kit on the front of the Jeep.
Another component that's included in this kit that's left out of a lot of other ones are bump stop extensions. The bump stops on your Jeep keep the tire from getting into the body and they keep you from damaging your shock or spring components by fully compressing them. Fully compressing a shock or fully compressing a spring or putting it into coil bind can damage those components, and that's where the bump stops come in. Any time you're doing suspension work, like adding height and adding larger tires, you will want to adjust your bump stops and TeraFlex takes care of that for you. I especially like the bump stop extensions for the front of the Jeep that come in this kit because they don't require you to drill and tap the lower spring perch. These actually just go in the factory bump stop location up top, which makes installation a lot easier.
Aside from all the hardware you need to get this lift installed on the Jeep, it also includes a new rear trackbar bracket, and this thing is really beefy. I think the bracket by itself weighs close to 10 pounds. It attaches to the axle in a total of three different locations, which means it's going to be rock solid. You're not going to get any sway out of the back of the Jeep like you might with a weaker, cheaper rear trackbar bracket, and it has two different adjustments so you can adjust the roll center of the Jeep. Up front, we didn't have to do anything with the trackbar. You can absolutely use the factory front trackbar, but that's an area where we decided to do a little upgrade.
Like I said, there's nothing wrong with using the factory front trackbar with this lift kit. It's going to fit and everything will work just fine. It's just going to put the axle a little bit off center under the Jeep. So if we're running a really large or a really wide tire, we might find that we have some rubbing on either the control arm or the frame when you turn to the lock on one side but not the other. In that case, adding an adjustable trackbar does make sense to recenter the axle. We decided to go with a new front trackbar because we've actually had scenarios where we end up with a little bit of a wobble driving down the road, and it's not because a bushing's worn out, it's actually that factory front trackbar flexing under the stress of a large tire like this.
So the forged TeraFlex Front Trackbar is plenty strong, really beefy, and you know it's not going to flex. Of course it's adjustable, which allows us to completely recenter the axle under the Jeep. So those are the reasons to install a stronger and adjustable front trackbar, and we went with the TeraFlex Monster Trackbar because it does all of those things really well. It is a little bit more expensive than other front adjustable trackbars on the market, but in my opinion, for the quality of the product, it's well worth the additional price. This is a black powder coated finish that's going to hold up really well. It has factory-style rubber bushings on both sides, again, that aren't going to wear out on you, and it has a similar bend to the factory trackbar so it's going to clear the front differential all the way through the suspension travel.
The last suspension component that we added on the Jeep was a new steering stabilizer or steering dampener. They're the same thing. It's very important to know that a steering stabilizer is designed to do one thing. When you're driving down the road and you hit a bump, especially with a large tire, you can get some additional feedback through the steering wheel, and the steering dampener will help to dumb some of that down. A steering stabilizer is not there to fix a wobble or to fix bump steer, and especially if you have depth wobble. If you have any of those pre-existing conditions and you add a new steering stabilizer, it might help to cover them up for a short period of time, but then all you're going to end up doing is blowing out your new steering stabilizer and still ending up with the same condition. If you have one of those suspension conditions, there are ways to diagnose it and fix it, and a steering stabilizer is not one of them.
However, there are a couple of reasons to replace the steering stabilizer on your Jeep, and that's if it's broken or if it's leaking. Our factory stabilizer was leaking a little bit, so we decided to replace it with this TeraFlex Steering Stabilizer. Now, there's no magic in a steering stabilizer. They're all just 50-50 valve shots. So in my opinion, there's no reason to spend $100, $200, $300 on one. At the same time, I don't want a bargain bin $15 steering stabilizer because I know that those seals aren't going to last and it's going to end up leaking. I really like the TeraFlex steering stabilizer, and honestly it's something I would run on my Jeep because it's a high-quality component and I think it's priced really fairly for what you get.
The last component we added in this build was this new steel front bumper, which is going to hold up to bumps on the trail and even in the parking lot a lot better than that factory plastic bumper would. I'm sure you guys have seen people driving around with the caved-in corner on their plastic bumper, or you might even have one in your driveway. So this Barricade Trailforce HD bumper is really nice and I like it for a few different reasons. It allows you to retain the factory front fog lights so you don't have to spend extra money on new fog lights or a new auxiliary light. However, if you do want to add some lighting, it has these light mount tabs right up front, making installation really easy.
The other part that I like about this bumper is it actually improves upon the factory tow hooks. A hook is just fine, it's plenty strong, but it gives you the opportunity to have your winch line or snatch strap loop pop off of the hook. With these D-ring clevis mounts, everything gets locked into place and it's a much more secure way of using the bumper as a recovery point. The other thing I like about this bumper is that it comes ready to mount a winch right on top. It will hold up to a 12,000-pound winch without having to buy an additional winch plate or any other components. I really like all the functions that the bumper adds, and I think it looks really good, especially with this textured black powder coat finish.
I won't say that it adds as much to the overall look of the Jeep as the lift and the wheels and tires do, but it's a vast improvement over stock and it gives us the tough look that we were after. So between the lift, trackbar, steering stabilizer, wheels and tires, and the front bumper, we completely transformed the look of this Jeep. But now it's time to take it out on the road, see how it handles and performs. Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again, the best part about doing suspension work and a lift kit like this is when you first get it on the ground and see it on the tires. The second best part is taking it out on the road and actually driving it.
Unfortunately we're not going to be able to take this Jeep off road today, but we are going to give it a little bit of a road test, shake it down, and see how it feels. Now, because we're running a 33-inch by 12-inch tire on 17-inch wheels this time, we do have a little bit less sidewall than I'm used to, but the idea is still the same, that you need to make sure you have the correct tire pressure in these bigger tires. It is going to be a lower tire pressure than what's recommended for your stock tires in your owner's manual, but when you get the tires aired down properly, they're going to ride better, they're going to handle better, and the feel is going to be a lot better on the road.
If you have these tires up too high, you're going to feel every little pebble on the road and it's going to be really uncomfortable no matter how good the shock package on the vehicle is. First impression is that the Jeep rides pretty well. It feels pretty comfortable, it feels pretty planted. We only did two and a half inches of lift and we didn't do any sort of caster correction as far as geometry brackets or control arms, but because it's at two and a half inches, it's right at that line and it doesn't feel too platy. The steering wheel does feel like it wants to center itself pretty well, and I'm pretty happy with that.
The new stronger trackbar on the Jeep isn't something where you're going to immediately notice a huge difference unless you've been driving around for a while with wornout bushings or with a stock trackbar and large tires, where you had a lot of trackbar flex. Now, because our Jeep used to be stock, we're not going to notice a really stark contrast between this new trackbar and the old one. We didn't have a lot of trackbar flex before because we were running the small stock tires, but it is nice to know that now, even with our large, heavier wheel and tire package, we're not going to have to worry about the trackbar flexing at all and we're not going to end up with any weird feedback through the steering or any type of wobble.
The steering stabilizer is another one of those parts where, unless you've been driving around for a while with a broken one, you're not going to notice a huge difference when you add a new one. However, our steering stabilizer was leaking for a while, so having the new one on there does feel a lot better. We're not getting nearly the amount of feedback through the steering wheel that we used to be on every little bump and pothole in the road. Now, obviously the bumper isn't going to be something we're going to be able to feel while we're driving around, but it's definitely a head turner.
If it doesn't turn anybody else's head, it turns mine when I'm walking away from the Jeep after parking it. It looks a lot better than that factory bumper did, especially with all the attitude we added from the lift and the wheel and tire package on this Jeep. It is nice to know that if we do end up hitting a trail on the weekend, we have some recovery points, we have some additional light mounts, so we can upgrade to auxiliary lighting down the line. If we ever end up getting into more hardcore wheeling with this rig, we can add a winch without having to add any additional winch plate or any other hardware.
The overall idea of this build was to take an otherwise stock Jeep and give it some attitude. We wanted to do that by putting it on a set of 33-inch tires, two and a half-inch lift, add some supporting mods with the trackbar and a steering stabilizer, and give it a nice big, beefy off road looking front bumper. I think we accomplished all of our goals. The Jeep definitely looks better than it did, it has a lot more attitude, and we didn't do it at the cost of drivability. I would be happy to drive this thing as my daily driver and to take it out on the trail on the weekend. So, for more Jeep builds and other great Jeep content, make sure you keep an eye on ExtremeTerrain.com. I'm Ryan. Thanks for watching.