What Jeep lift should I get? We frequent some online off-road forums. Lots of time the same question gets asked over and over. What Jeep lift should I get? Short answer: You should not get a Jeep lift – yet.
Honestly, a lift is pretty low on the list. A stock Jeep is pretty well capable from the factory. Yea, yea, cookie cutter tires, short with not much ability to get over a ledge. Hogwash. But, I understand, you have a new toy and want to spend some money? First up, some recovery options, depending on what Jeep you buy, it may or may not have hooks and other bits. Start there. Now, recovery options are not limited to hooks. Think shovel, strap, winch if you can swing at one, hi-lift or tractor jack, gloves, etc. I know most Jeep folks will gladly work hard to pull you out if you are stuck. I also know that we will be happier if you made a modest effort in making it easier. Personally, I will work hard to get you out, and not leave you stranded. I will be more pleasant to be around if we are getting your strap dirty and not mine. After you are safe I will raze you till the cows come home. I may even go so far as to suggest to your woman that a real man would not let that happen. Truth be told, it happens, so, plan for it. Dollar one should be some recovery options and gear.
Next up? Basic tools, and an air compressor to deflate some tires. Trust me here. More traction can be had by “airing down” than most other mods. Somebody that has no recovery gear, tools, or compressor, and asks the question “What Jeep lift should I get” is really in over their heads.
One quick and easy modification that will help is a set of sway bar disconnects. Rubicon’s have electric disconnects. Others, well, cheap and easy. Get some. Don’t understand why? Hmmm…. OK, it allows the suspension to work better. A quick video for you is at the bottom of this page.
While you are saving up to answer the question “What Jeep lift should I get” go out and drive. Find some folks, plenty of online clubs, etc. Most are friendly folks, go meet up with them and run a few trails. Don’t plan on the biggest or badest run to start. Let the group know of your experience and ride, they may suggest to sit that run out. Most importantly, they will help you out should you get stuck. Spend the time going off road and learning about technique, how to read lines, what to avoid, etc.. Avoid the temptation to ask what Jeep lift should I get while with the group. More times than not, it is the driver, not the car, that makes the difference. One memory of mine is of being a passenger in a ten passenger van at Phoenix Raceway with a Bondurant driver behind the wheel. He cooked that corner. Nine grown men squealing, one (the driver) just smiling. Our corner times in formula Ford’s were slower than his corner speed in a ten passenger van. His times in the formula Ford? Impressive.
OK, some basics are solved. Is it time to ask “What Jeep lift should I get?” Nope. Not quite yet. Next up, armor the soft bits. Stock plates work for a bit and are not bad, but yes, get some protection for the underside. We run a full skid plate, transfer cases, diff covers, etc. That “thunk” sound is much easier to take when you have good protection for the expensive bits. You will “thunk.” When I see folks with Jeep lifts and no plates, pretty well tells me they have no plans to go where we go. Quick story, we were out with some friends in a fairly remote area. Old man local was watching the world go by at the start of a trail. He told a buddy of ours, who had a 6” Jeep lift on 35” tires, “you will not make it.” At the time we were leveled, but no “Jeep lift.” Full skid plates, etc, he said “you will be just fine.” Buddy made it through the trail, in part due to his experience. We made it though, in part, due to the plates.
Now is it time to ask “What Jeep lift should I get?” Sure. But let’s be honest. I like the look of a lifted Jeep, I suspect that you may too? So, how much of this is “look driven” and how much is need driven? Seems to be a goal of running 35” tires. Ehhh…. That may require gears, so not just a Jeep lift. Above 35”? That is gonna cost you. Don’t get me wrong. A good Jeep lift can help, and some, when done well, look really great in my opinion. Also consider your other uses for the Jeep. Daily driver? Maybe back it down just a notch? What ever you decide: Save some money up and do it right and well once. Spend the time going off road and learning about technique, how to read lines, what to avoid, etc. A Jeep lift will enhance your skill, not overcome a lack skill. But now that you have some skill and time into it, chances are you have found what brings you YOUR joy.
For us, no desire to rock crawl. Had that been the plan we would be much lighter and a little taller. Our joy comes from camping and exploring. We needed a balance. We stayed relatively low for center of gravity issues and road worthiness, addressed the weight we carry, and know we can get out of most any stuck. We also added clearance via some after-market fenders. Not to run bigger tires, but to avoid rub when articulated. Did you know with the right set of fenders you can run 35” tires on a stock JK? Crazy right? Do your research on the options. Ask lots of questions and be honest with yourself and your wallet. If you did all that is listed above, you will know the answer for YOU on “what Jeep lift should I get,” before it is even time to get a Jeep lift.
What Jeep lift should I get?