|The WJ grows up!||Short Cuts|
By: Anton Cabellon - 1/2001
|WJ prior to lift.|
After owning my WJ for a period of three months, I decided it was time to move up in the world and get a lift. Since the relatively new Grand Cherokee platform (WJ) has just entered it's third year of production, the number of available modifications has been scarce at best. This scarcity also applies to the number of lifts available for the WJ, just two. Both of the lifts for the WJ are made by Teraflex, a Utah based company specializing in Jeep lifts and drivetrains.
The first lift for the WJ is a 2" Budget Boost (BB). The kit consists of four polyurethane spacers and four bump stop extensions. The 2" BB provides an economical way of gaining 2" of ground clearance from the stock height of the WJ. It also allows for the fitment of a 31" tire, the most popular size being the 265/70R16.
|2" TeraFlex Budget Boost installed.|
The other lift that Teraflex makes for the WJ is the 4" suspension lift. This lift consists of 4" springs, 4 lower control arms, 4 bump stop extensions, Tera Generation II Quick Disconnects, a dropped pitman arm, a track bar lowering kit, a transfer case lowering kit, an A arm spacer, and rear sway bar extensions. The 4" suspension lift allows for the fitment of a 32" tire (popular sizes 265/75R16 or 265/70R17), or with some modification to your bumpers, a 33" tire (popular size, 285/75R16).
Having had experience with both lifts, I'll relate my experience with each. The 2" BB is a nice economical way of gaining some additional ground clearance and allowing for the fitment of larger tires. The stock WJ, with it's unibody construction, sits a bit lower than its frame-on-rail counterparts, e.g. the Toyota 4Runner and other similar SUV's. Installation is fairly simple (requiring 2-3 hours) and requires the use of spring compressors to fit the polyurethane spacers over the springs. The ride quality is barely affected. Some owners have experienced minor tracking problems with the 2"BB. This is presumably due to the non-relocated front track bar shifting the front axle to the left a couple of centimeters.
|TeraFlex 4" lift installed.|
Another issue with the BB is whether there is a need to get new shocks. Teraflex has advised that new shocks are not required, but some owners with the standard non-Up Country shocks have experienced that the rear stock shocks on the WJ are too short for the 2"BB. There are many shock choices to be made depending on your choice for ride quality. Some owners have gone with the Rancho RS9000 5 speed adjustable shock and the specific part numbers are 9128 (front) / 9260 (rear). Other owners have gone with the Rancho RSX series shocks, Edlebrock IAS shocks, or the Monroe Reflex shocks.
A component that does not come with the 2" BB, but would improve the overall articulation of the lift, is a set of quick disconnects available from Teraflex or JKS. The 2"BB with 31's adds quite a bit more ability to an already capable off-highway vehicle, but if you are really ready to flex, the 4" suspension lift is made just for you. The 4" lift for the WJ is a complete suspension kit. It is designed well and superbly constructed. It consists of all the components listed above and while it's installation is a bit more involved than that of the 2"BB, it is basically a bolt on kit (requiring half a day to a day for installation for the mechanically inclined). The kit comes with a transfer case lowering kit. The installation of the transfer case lowering kit is optional and is reserved for those people experiencing a vibration originating from the rear drive shaft.
|With 6" of lift, the WJ really stands out in a crowd.|
Many owners have gone with the Rancho RS9000's for the 4" lift using 9255's in the front and 9010's in the rear. In general, the 4" lift rides very well on the road. Some have described it's ride as good as, or better, than stock . The 4" suspension lift for the WJ performs excellently off-road, with improved approach and departure angles. The articulation is awesome. The 4" lift allows an RTI of 864 on a 20 degree ramp, aired down and anti-sway bar disconnected. On a 30 degree ramp, the RTI score was: 413 with tires at 36 psi and the front sway bar still connected and 591 with the tires at 15 psi and the front sway bar disco'ed.
As with all lifts, some of the minor troubles, such as a proper alignment have to be addressed. Even with a proper alignment, some WJ owners have experienced death wobble. Most troubles of this sort have been solved with the addition of a steering stabilizer from Rancho. Some owners have experienced a noisy front suspension and this problem seems to emanate from a variety of sources, including the disconnects, to improperly tightened lower control arms, to a loosened bolt connecting the pitman arm to the drag link and etc.
|The WJ, all grown-up.|
Another problem surfacing from the kit is that the curvature of the stock front lower control arms is lost to Teraflex's flex arms (lower control arms). Most people have experienced rubbing of the inner aspect of the tire with the Tera flex arm at full steering lock. Also, most owners have experienced rubbing of the rear shocks on full compression, if they are running 265-series tires, or larger.
Finally, there has been the issue of the front drive shaft. The front drive shaft on some 2001 WJ's, and definitely the older WJ's, is of a slip-yoke construction and has been known to bind on full extension/flexion of the supension, with the disconnects removed. A new driveshaft is available for the WJ from Daimler Chrysler which consists of a u-joint construction at the pinion end and a double cardan joint at the transfer case. However, some lifted WJ's have experienced a harmonic vibration at different speeds (mainly at 50 mph) with the combination of the 4" lift and the new driveshaft.
|An impressive sight at any angle.|
Some individuals have been industrious enough to bring the WJ to 6" of lift. This has been accomplished by combining the Teraflex 4" lift and the Tera 2" BB. Additional modifications are necessary to obtain this amount of lift. These modifications include the creation of an adjustable track bar, dropping the rear brake lines, running adjustable front upper control arms, and replacing the stock upper ball joints with 2-degree offset upper ball joints. The WJ's ride at 6" is a bit more harsh than at lower heights.
|Ready to tackle most any trail.|
Six inches of lift appears to be the maximum lift that can be had using the short control arms provided by Tera. Going any higher than 6" would probably entail the fabrication of a new lift using a long-arm set up.
This write-up was designed to give the WJ owner a brief look into what one may expect when lifting the WJ. It doesn't cover all the problems encountered when lifting the WJ, as each WJ will have it's own idiosyncrasies when lifted. As the WJ model line ages, expect to see the number of lifts available increase. Look for a possible 5.5" WJ lift to be introduced in 2001.