Review & Install Video
Hey, guys. I'm Ryan from ExtremeTerrain.com, and today we have a 2016 Black Bear Edition JKU. Now, this Jeep had a couple of mods on it, but we took care of the big ones. Let me walk you through the build. When putting together the list of materials for this build, we wanted something that would be able to take on the trails on the weekend but also still be a daily driver. We knew we wanted to put 35s under it, and we would need enough lift to accommodate those, but we didn't want to completely break the bank. I think what we ended up with is a really good mix of both form and function, all without completely destroying our budget. So with that in mind, we decided to go with the Teraflex 3-inch Lift Kit with Shocks.
We like this lift kit because it's really, really complete. It has everything you need to get the Jeep lifted and back on the road, from brake lines to bump stop extensions to your sway bar disconnects. It's literally everything. The only thing you might want to add would be a front adjustable track bar, but it's definitely not necessary. It's just something you can add if you want to completely re-center that front axle. Now we went with the 3-inch because we wanted to fit 35s under this Jeep. We needed some additional clearance for that. Now, flat fenders help and we'll talk about those in a minute.
This lift install is just like any other lift kit, and it really went on very easy. The first thing you'll have to do is support the Jeep from the frame so that you can remove or disconnect anything that keeps the axle from completely drooping. Once the axle is drooped, you can remove the springs, the shocks, all of those other components, put in the new stuff, and put it all back together. This lift kit is a little less expensive than some of the other ones on the market, but the nice thing about a lift is that you can always upgrade. You can change things like shocks and control arms as your needs see fit.
Any time you're lifting your Jeep in the 3 to 3 ½ inch range, you are going to throw off some of that factory geometry. Things like your castor and your pinion angle, they're going to change, and that's something you might notice going down the road with a little bit of a flighty feel where the steering wheel doesn't want to center itself like it did when it was stock. Now, there are a couple of different ways to fix that, one of those being control arms, but they can be expensive so with the budget in mind, we decided to go with these Rough Country Control Arm Geometry Brackets, and what they do is lower the mounting points and put the upper and lower control arms to get those specs a little closer to stock.
Now, the only drawback to brackets like this you can see right here. You will lower your ground clearance a little bit, so depending on what you plan on doing with your Jeep, that might be a drawback, it might not be. But for the money you save over control arms, a lot of people would say it's worth it. There are some additional benefits to control arms as far as articulation from better joints, so we have both options on the website. You really have to decide which is best for you and for your build. We knew we wanted 35-inch tires on this Jeep so we decided to go with a set of 315/75-16s which is roughly the metric equivalent. As far as wheels, we went with the Mammoth type 88s in a 16x8 inch size.
When you're shopping for wheels for your tires, there are a couple different specs to keep in mind and after that, it's all about aesthetics. We decided to go with a 16-inch wheel as opposed to a 17 because it gives us a little bit more sidewall, which is really nice for gripping obstacles and rocks off-road. We went with an 8-inch wide wheel instead of a 9-inch because when you mount a nice wide tire on there, you get some additional sidewall pressure, which is good for airing down off-road to make sure you don't lose the bead. The other spec to keep in mind with wheels is backspacing. These have a 3.75-inch backspacing which means that even when we have this big, wide tire mounted on there, you'll be able to turn the steering wheel lock to lock without rubbing on the frame or on the control arms.
As far as aesthetics go, I really like this wheel especially on a silver Jeep like this. There's a black center with a polished lip and these charcoal inserts here are completely removable so you can customize the color to whatever you like. So anytime you change the tire size, and especially the gear ration on your Jeep, you want to re-calibrate the computer so that your speedometer and odometer and all of those numbers that those two affect are accurate. I really like the Superchips FlashCal Programmer for that. It does all of those things plus more with an easy to use LCD screen and buttons as opposed to some of the other programmers on the market that use dip switches.
Now in addition to re-calibrating for tires and gear ratio, you also have some additional settings like headlight and turn signal, horn chirp, and you'll be able to read and clear check engine lights. One of the features I really like, especially for you guys who are running larger off-road tires, is that you'll be able to adjust your TPMS system. With a free download from the Superchips website, you'll be able to have full control of the TPMS system so you're not driving around with that light on the dash or that annoying dinging every time you start the Jeep. Now, one thing that it's really important to remember with this calibrator is that it will not increase fuel mileage. If you've been driving around for a while with larger tires and you haven't re-calibrated, you'll notice that your fuel mileage on the dashboard has gone down and when you re-calibrate, it's going to go back up, but you're not actually gaining fuel mileage, you're just getting an accurate reading now.
So the Superchips FlashCal puts a lot of features into a small, easy-to-use package all at an affordable price. Flat fender flares are great when running a large off-road tire. They give some additional clearance so that the tire doesn't come up and contact that factory flare and pop it off. If that happens, you'll be picking it up off the side of the trail and that's no good. And we installed a 3-inch lift kit on our Jeep so chances are we don't need the additional clearance, but we love the look of these so much, we just couldn't resist.
These are the Rugged Ridge Hurricane Flat Fender Flares which are a hybrid of a flat flare and a pocket style rivet flare. You usually get one or the other, but this is a really nice combination of both. These flares include everything you need to get them installed including the lighting and the wiring which is something that some other companies will leave out. These even include two different sets of rivets, one black and one silver, so you can customize the look for whatever you like for your Jeep. One of the features I really, really like about these flat flares is that they're designed to be used with a factory inner fender flares. You don't need to purchase other ones and you don't need to run without them. These are designed specifically to work with the trim factory inners and they give you instructions on how to trim them, and having the inner fenders is really important. I personally like the look better, but it's also functional. It'll keep junk and mud out of the engine bay, which is especially important on the passenger side where you have the wiring harness right there.
Now that we've got the Jeep ready to go off-road, we wanted to add some recovery gear. The winch is really nice to have if you find yourself stuck in a mud puddle, or high centered on an obstacle, or to help out a friend. We chose the rugged ridge 8,500 pound winch, but they also offer this winch in a 10,500 pound capacity and they offer both of them in a few different configurations. We really like Rugged Ridge for this application because it's a no-frills winch. This particular one has a steel cable. It doesn't have any sort of wireless winch controller. It's really no frills and all of those things help to keep the cost down. Now if you're out there every single weekend and you're doing a lot of really long hard pulls, you might want to look into one of the more expensive winches on the market. You generally do get what you pay for with these. However, if you're a weekend warrior and you're out there on the trails with your friends, this winch will more than do it for you and it'll save you a couple of dollars.
All right, so now for the fun part. We've got the lift kit installed, wheels and tires are rolling, we're calibrated, fender flares, wench, the whole nine. Now we get to drive it. It's the second best part after seeing it on the ground after the lift kit and wheels and tires are bolted on. And I've got to say, I thought that the Teraflex shocks were going to ride a little bit harsher. This actually rides really, really nice. I said before that some more expensive kits might have some nicer shocks that'll improve on road ride quality, and while that still might be true, there's nothing wrong with this as it sits. Right out of the box, this thing rides really, really well. It feels really stable and I think that has something to do with the rear track bar brace and the rear track bar bracket that come in the lift kit. You're able to adjust that roll center and even if you don't know really what that means, it's going to readjust your geometry so the Jeep rides much more like it would have right out of the factory.
Another benefit to running a slightly smaller wheel with a big tire is that additional sidewall. And we talked about the benefits off-road as far as being able to grip rocks and different obstacles, but it's also a benefit on road. You want to make sure that you're running the correct tire pressure in a big tire. It's usually lower than what it says in your factory service manual for your vehicle. But if you get the tire pressure correct and you have some larger side walls, they're actually going to help with cushioning and the suspension. They can create a little bit of a spongy ride if you're taking a corner really fast, but let's face it. This isn't a sports car. You shouldn't be doing that in a Jeep anyway, so if it helps your ride quality during your everyday driving, I'd say it's a good move.
So now that we're on the road, the calibrator really shows where it comes into play. This is an automatic Jeep, and having bigger tires on it means that without a calibration, the Jeep would be shifting in weird spots. It would be lugging the motor. We don't have any of that. We re-calibrated, and this thing shifts just like a factory Jeep would. On top of that, I can drive with confidence knowing that the speedometer is accurate, so I'm not going to be busted for speeding and the odometer is accurate, which is going to help from everything from oil change intervals to well, everything. You need your odometer to be accurate. Now I know that a calibrator isn't the most exciting part of building a Jeep, but you definitely need one, and the Superchips calibrator makes everything really, really easy.
Now that we've felt how it rides on road, let's take it off-road. We're not going to do anything serious today, but I just want to get a feel for how everything is on a little bit of a bumpy road. So we have the Jeep out here on a bit of a fire trail. It's not hard core wheeling. We're not rock-crawling, but we're off the road we're on a bumpy dirt road, and I just wanted to get a feel for the suspension. We're not disconnecting sway bars we're not going to flex it out today, we're just going to get a feel for it. And I've got to say, like I said on the road, this suspension handles the bumps really well. I mean, I'm cruising along here at 5-7 miles an hour, normal speeds that you'd be going off-road, and this is pretty rutted out. It's handling really well. It feels good. It's really smooth. I'm really happy with this.
Even though we're just on a fire trail and we're not really flexing out the suspension, you can still see the benefit of having the flat fender flares. The hurricane flares that we installed here are still wide enough to give you plenty of coverage from the tires throwing junk up on the body, but they give you that additional up travel clearance that will clear these big tires even when you do go over these big obstacles, and they look really good. It's great the first time you get to hit the trail after adding a bunch of new mods to your Jeep, and even though we're just on a fire trail now, it's always nice to have a winch just in case. When we started out this build, we wanted to put something together that would have great on-road manners that you can daily drive to work but also take out on the weekend and have fun on the trails with it, and after taking it both on the street and on the trail, I think we hit all of those points.
This thing works really good on road and really good off-road, and it's just really well-rounded. We did it all without completely breaking the budget. So for all the mods you need for your Jeep and for more cool content like this, make sure you check out ExtremeTerrain.com, but for now, I'm Ryan. Thanks for watching.