Review & Install Video
I'm Ryan from extremeterrain.com, and today I'm going to walk you through the build of this 2007 2-door Sahara. When we got our hands on this Jeep, it was pretty much bone stock aside from some floor mats, and we definitely had to change that. This is not a hardcore wheeling Jeep, so the idea behind this build was to keep the budget as low as possible and install the fewest number of parts we could to get a little bit more performance and some more height out of the suspension and be able to fit a larger set of wheels and tires. So, let me walk you through the build.
With those goals in mind, we decided to install the Rough Country 3.25 inch lift kit with shocks. Now, this kit's available for both two-door and four-door JKs, so if you're considering it, make sure you get the right one for your Jeep. The idea behind installing this lift kit is it really is inexpensive, and it has all the parts you need to get your Jeep back on the road and rolling on larger tires. The parts that are included in this lift kit are, of course, the lifted springs. These are 2.5 inch lift springs, and a 3/4 inch coil spring spacer that give you that total of 3.25 inches of lift. This kit does include a set of shocks. It has rear sway bar end links, brake line relocation brackets, and a rear track bar bracket. Along with providing the lift that you're after, these coil springs will hold up weight better than the factory springs would. So if you end up adding steel bumpers, a heavy spare, a winch or other armor, these aren't going to squat as much as the factory springs would.
The shocks that are included in this lift kit are a hydraulic shock. And what does that mean? Well, the hydraulic fluid in a shock, when it's worked really hard in high speed desert racing or running over washboards or whoops at high speed, can foam and cavitate, causing a shock fade. So some shocks have a nitrogen charge inside of them which helps to control that foaming and that shock fade. The downside to the nitrogen charge is that it can add some stiffness to the shock and can ride a little bit harsher. So this hydraulic shock is going to ride a little bit smoother. However, it's not going to have that foaming control. For what we planning on using this Jeep for, which is not that high speed off-road desert racing, these shocks are going to work for us.
The rear track bar relocation bracket that's included in this kit really follows along with the theme of what we're doing here. It gets the job done. Now, there are some beefier track bar brackets included in other Rough Country lift kits or some more expensive lift kits on the market, but this one will get the Jeep back on the road and rolling again with larger tires, all without spending a ton of money. If you're driving down the road after you install this lift and you find that you have a little bit of sway in the backend, you can always upgrade and replace that rear track bar bracket down the line.
This kit includes one set of extended sway bar end links, and they're for the rear of the Jeep. Then you take the factory rear end links and move them to the front. This is a pretty common practice because the factory rear end links are long enough for a lot of lift kits when you move them up to the front. And chances are if you take your Jeep off-road, you'll want to upgrade to some quick disconnects, so you'll end up getting rid of those factory sway bar links anyway.
Another component that's included in this lift kit are the brake line relocation brackets. Anytime you lift a Jeep and especially when you're going off-road with disconnected sway bars you need some longer brake lines or at least relocation brackets so that you don't pull the brake lines tight when you're articulating off-road. The brackets that come with this kit are the simplest possible brackets you can get, and that's completely okay for the back of the Jeep. They work fine. There's nothing wrong with them. I don't, however, like that style of bracket for the front of the Jeep as much. In order to get the relocation bracket installed, you have to straighten out some of the factory hard brake line, which I'm really not a fan of doing. If I was installing this lift kit on my Jeep, I would install some longer front brake lines. The installs a little bit more involved, and of course, you have to bleed out the brake system, but in my mind, it's worth it.
So, those are the parts that are included in this lift kit. And as I keep saying over and over again, there's nothing wrong with those parts. They'll definitely get you rolling down the road again with a bigger set of tires on the Jeep. But if you're driving the Jeep for a while, and you notice that you want to upgrade it, there are a few areas to do that in. One of those is in the geometry of the front of the Jeep. Anytime you lift the Jeep, you're going to change the caster angle and the pinion angle. The caster angle can give you a bit of a flighty feel going down the highway because the steering wheel doesn't want to recenter like it used to. And if you roll the pinion enough, you can get driveline vibrations or premature driveshaft wear. Adding some geometry correction brackets or longer, lower control arms will correct both of those issues, and it's always something you can add down the line.
One part that's not included in this lift kit are bump stop extensions. Now, the shocks do have a little bit of a bump stop built into them, but they don't serve all the same purposes as a traditional bump stop extension would. A normal bump stop extension will help to keep the tire out of the fender, and it'll help to keep the coil spring and shock from fully compressing which could cause damage. As with any suspension modification, after you get this lift installed, you will want to flex and articulate the suspension to make sure you don't have any clearance issues, and if need be, you'll want to add some bump stop extensions.
The reason for the lift kit is right over here. We wanted to be able to run these 35 inch tires under our Jeep, and we needed the clearance. So we decided to go with a Mammoth Boulder wheel and tire kit. That kit is available with wheels in both 16 and 17 inch sizes, and in three different finishes, black, charcoal, and silver.
There are a few different benefits to buying a wheel and tire package like this as opposed to wheels and tires separately. The wheel and tire kits available on this site are completely customizable, so you can really put together a package that's exactly what you're looking for, and they're really, really convenient. When they get to your house, you just open the box and put them on your Jeep. No extra trip to the tire shop necessary. Once you pick the wheels that you're interested in, then you'll pick the brand, style, and size of tire you want. You'll be able to pick whether you want four or a complete set of five tires with a spare. You'll choose if you want TPMS sensors installed. You decide whether you want the white lettering in or out. And then everything will be mounted and balanced for free, and filled with nitrogen, and shipped directly to your house.
Like I said, the Mammoth Boulder wheels that are included in this kit are available in both 16 by 8 and 17 by 9 inch sizes. I personally like the slightly smaller 16 inch wheel because it gives you a little bit more sidewall. That's a benefit off-road because you use that sidewall to grip rocks and different obstacles, but it's also a benefit on-road. That additional sidewall height will be a shock absorber when you're driving down the road to help smooth out bumps and potholes. The slightly narrower 8 inch wheel is a benefit when you go off-road because it allows you to air down your tire a little bit more without the chance of losing your bead. Airing the tire down gives you a larger footprint and more grip, but if you air down too far, you can actually lose a bead and have to change a tire on the trail. The additional sidewall pressure that you get from having a narrower wheel with a wide tire will help protect against that.
The last and maybe most important number you need to look at when buying a wheel is back spacing. When you're running a larger and wider tire on your Jeep, there's a chance that when you turn the steering wheel from lock to lock you could have some rubbing on either the frame or on the control arm. Having less back spacing will push the wheel and tire package away from the center line of the Jeep, giving you the clearance you need. Well, Mammoth took care of that with all of their wheels, and on this Boulder wheel, the back spacing is 4.5 inches. That's the perfect amount to get everything pushed away from the vehicle and allow you to run a larger wheel and tire without any clearance issues.
I know I said the idea behind this build was a minimum number of parts, minimum number of dollars to get an upgraded suspension that allows us to run larger tires, and we definitely did that, but we did add one other part. Whether you have a lifted Jeep on big tires, or it's just stock height and you want some help getting in and out, grab handles are a great way to go. So for this build, we decided to add the Barricade Extreme Sport grab handles. I like these grab handles for a few different reasons. They have three different straps, all completely covered in a hook and loop fastener which means that no matter how hard you pull on these, they're not going to come loose. The handle itself is a molded rubber which makes it really comfortable to grab onto. And they're completely adjustable, so they'll fit on a 2 or 3 inch sport cage. And you can install these on any Jeep from 1987 all the way up through the present.
There are a few different styles and versions of grab handles on the market. There are metal grab handles that bolt into the sport cage and the windshield frame, and those ones might be a little bit more secure, but the installation's also more difficult, they're a lot more expensive, and they hurt a lot when you whack your head on them. If you're looking for something that's inexpensive, gets the job done, looks pretty good, I definitely recommend the Barricade handles. One of my favorite parts about these grab handles is that they don't have a big logo or brand plastered across them. They're not a billboard. And in my book, that goes a long way.
The idea behind this build was to get it lifted so we could fit some larger tires and upgrade that tired factory suspension. I think we definitely hit the nail on the head with this build. I think it looks great. And I'm really excited to see how it handles. So let's take it out on the road.
Well, I always say that driving a Jeep after doing major suspension modifications like this is the second best part, only to seeing it on the ground under its own weight after you get it all put back together. And I have to say, this thing does drive pretty well for a lift kit that is as inexpensive as this one is. The Jeep does ride pretty nicely, and I think a lot of that has to do with the hydraulic shocks that are installed. Like we said before, nitrogen shocks do have a couple of benefits, but one drawback is that they can ride a little bit stiffer. These hydros give us a nice, soft ride, and it's pretty comfortable.
One of the first things you'll notice after doing major suspension modification and running larger tires like we are now is the first time you drive the vehicle, it's going to feel like you have a major performance loss. It's much harder to turn these big, heavy tires, and you're going to feel that when you step on the pedal right off the line. There are a couple of ways to fix that. One is by re-gearing the axles which will give the engine back its advantage in turning the tires, make it a little bit easier, and you'll get some of that performance back. If you're driving an automatic Jeep like this, it definitely pays to recalibrate the computer for the new, larger tires. What that's going to do is put all of your shift points back to where they should be from factory, and that will definitely help with some of that performance loss you get with bigger tires like this.
Something I like about running a 16 inch wheel with a 35 inch tire is that, like I said before, you have a lot of sidewall. We know the advantages as far as gripping obstacles off-road, but it's also an advantage on the road. When you're running the proper tire pressure in a large tire like this, which, as a reminder, is going to be lower than the recommended tire pressure for a stock tire, you're going to get a lot of suspension just from the sidewall of the tire. It's going to suck up a lot of those bumps and really help improve ride quality.
The grab handles we installed definitely help when getting in and out of the Jeep now that it has the big lift and the big tires, and it's a comfortable place to rest your hand going down the road. But where these are going to really shine is when you go off-road. You and your passengers are going to have somewhere to brace yourself when you're those off-camera situations or when you're bouncing along a rough trail.
Something that's really important to do anytime you do a major suspension overhaul like this is to torque everything down to spec, drive the Jeep for a few hundred miles, maybe a thousand, and then re-torque everything. Some of those bolts are going to loosen up, and you'll want to make sure everything's good and tight.
Something that's really important to note is with this wheel and tire package, even though we chose to go with the 35 x 12.50 tire, we have no rubbing. Even when I turn all the way lock to lock, forward and reverse, we have no problem with the tire rubbing on the control arm or the frame, and that is 100% because we have the proper back spacing with these Mammoth wheels. That 4.5 inches of back spacing pushes the wheel and tire package out just enough to give us the clearance we need.
So now that we've had a chance to take this Jeep out on the road and drive it, I can say I think we accomplished all the goals that we set out to accomplish with this build. We got rid of that tired, old suspension and upgraded it to something brand new, springs and shocks and all the components that go along with that. And that suspension package gives us the clearance to run a 35 x 12.50 tire which is what we wanted to run to give this Jeep a really tough, mean look. This Jeep is definitely daily drivable, but it's also going to be perfectly fine to hit the trails on the weekend. It's really well-rounded. And the best part of all, we didn't spend a ton of money. There is a lot of room to upgrade with a lift kit like this, but that's something we can do down the line as we use the Jeep, and as we find that we want to upgrade for how we use it, we can really customize this lift.
So, for more cool Jeep builds and other Jeep content, make sure you check out extremeterrain.com. But for now, I'm Ryan. Thanks for watching.