Suspension help! - Off-Road Forums & Discussion Groups
Jeep-Short Wheelbase All discussion of short wheelbase Jeeps: CJ, TJ, YJ and JK

View Poll Results: Which suspension is the best?
Rubicon Express 6 60.00%
Old Man Emu 3 30.00%
Full Traction 1 10.00%
CAGE 0 0%
Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
 
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Suspension help!

Hey guys, I have a lil bit of extra cash lately and I'm trying to pick out a good suspension system for my 03 Rubicon. I want something that is still road drivable but is pretty capable off road. I'm thinking a 3-4 inch lift and maybe a high clearance transfer case skid plate. I have it narrowed down to about 4 different kits. Give me some advice guys!

I like the Old man emu stuff even though it's only a 2 inch lift.
Old Man Emu 2" Heavy Load Lift Kit for 03-06 Jeep Wrangler TJ & Unlimited with Manual Transmission - Quadratec

I helped install a Rubicon express 4 inch superflex on my friend's jeep and I was pretty impressed with it.
Rubicon Express 4.5" Super Flex Lift Kit for 03-06 Jeep Wrangler TJ & Unlimited - Quadratec

I don't know anything about the full traction systems, but they seem pretty nice.
Full-Traction 4" Flex Arm Suspension System for 97-06 Jeep Wrangler TJ & Unlimited - Quadratec

But so far my favorite looks to be the CAGE system. I've never heard of them before, but the kit looks solid.
CAGE Offroad Products 4" Suspension Lift System with Heavy Duty Replacement Control Arms for 97-06 Jeep® Wrangler TJ & Unlimited - Quadratec
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 11:50 PM
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I love the Rubicon Express long arm suspension.

High clearance skid plate? The Rubicon uses the bigger transfer case - no room above to move it upwards.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 12:55 AM
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4" Is kind of a magic #. Below that, you don't really have to change much else. But at 4" and above, a lot of things happen.
Brake lines are too short.
Shocks are way too short
Driveline vibration
Possible bump steer
More road vibration due to LCA angles.

If the kit includes poly bushings/spacers....be prepaired to feel a LOT more of the road....including every pebble. The poly material is much denser and transmits more road vibration to your body....the stuff is highly over rated.

It's been my experience that Rubicon lifts tend to be a little stiff.

While many of the kits include newer lower control arms (LCA), they don't solve the problem of more vibration. Because of the increased angle, when your tire hits a bump and starts to go up, part of the movement is translated to rearward movement instead of upward movement...this means you feel it more. The only solution to reduce it is with a long arm kit. A long arm kit helps to reduce the LCA angle, thus reducing the vibration.

The lift also causes issues with the rear diveshaft angle. Without a CV driveshaft, you will most likely have some vibration....the only solution is with a CV driveshaft. Trust me, well worth the money. Don't even consider a transfer case lowering kit...defeats the purpose of a lift in the first place.

4" Also means you will need longer brake lines....and longer shocks. I am personally against the one size fits X lift. Every jeep is a little different on how it sits after a lift. I prefer the 'measure' method. Measure the distance from shock bolt to shock bolt...then measure the distance from axle to bump stop. It's not hard to then figure out what shock you should be using.

Have you considerd National Spring down in San Diego? You tell them what you want...they tell you to load the jeep like you want it...go down to a truck scale...weigh each axle...send them the data and they make you a set of springs to give you the lift you want....and it won't kill your kidneys.

Sorry I don't have more time or I would add more detail.

AKA DDawg16
84 CJ7, SOA, 5.7LTBI, 4L60E, 35"x12.5, 4.10 gears, F/Det, R/ARB, Full Roll Cage,
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 01:29 AM
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Gotta agree with Dawg on this. I am sure there are a lot of folks out there running 4" short arm kits and having a blast, but I vote to save a bit more coin and go long arm when you get the chance. Ride, handling and even off road performance should be much better.

Is this the only hammer you've got?
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 02:08 AM
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Dawg must have been thinking of leaf springs when he commented about Nat Springs making a set. Longer or bigger springs with stock arms spells disaster. The stock short arms aren't near strong enough to withstand much off roading.

Talking about the long arms: """""Ride, handling and even off road performance should be much better"""""

Not should be, IS!

Lifter short arms will give a choppier ride - no matter what kind of lift kit. It's just physics at work. The angle of approach is too great.

I get the chance to see, repair, redesign, and re-do all kinds of lift kits - NONE have the quality or fit as the RE Long Arms. None have the reliability or performance either.

After installation of the RELA's, customers immediatly comment that it handles and corners better than stock. After using it off-road they comment it's awesome.

The only complaint - the Johnny Joints need to be rebuilt and greased every 20-30,000 miles. They get noisy and wear a little. They can be tightened up, but you have to take them off to do it. There's a trick to help with greasing it, but they still need to be tightened up. There's 6 of them.

The absolute WORST - Fab Tech!

Get out and talk with owners, drive a few. Don't succumb to advertising lies! Remember - write-ups in magazines are written to please their advertisers!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
 
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wow! You guys all seem to really know your stuff! So are there any real downsides to a long arm kit? Living in NC my jeep only ever really sees mud and trail, with the occasional bog. So is long arm really the way to go?

Also, RRich, I did the JKS 1.25 inch body lift on the jeep, do you think that's enough to be able to do the high clearance plate?
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 02:51 PM
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Dunno - I don't know how much the tummy tucker lifts it. Stock it only has about 1/2 clearance between the body and T-case.

Body lift it much and the shifter doesn't work right. There are fix-it kits for that too.

If you go with a long arm, you won't need the Tummy tucker anyway. Most come with a new skid plate/t-case mount anyway. They use that to mount the long arms to.
Avoid the ones that cut out pqrt of the stock skid plate to make clearance for their mounts. They are super weak and will fail (like Fab Tech.)
The RE skid plate is 1/4" thick, and braced inside. Plus it has a removable center section to access the trans/t-case. Many don't! With those others you have to remove the suspension just to get to the trans, t-case, clutch etc.

He He - I don't sell RE, even though it may sound like it, but when I'm asked to install a lift kit TJ's, Cherokees etc, unless it's a RE I pass. But then I also do a few mods to it to make it even stronger (just can't leave well alone.)

Give them a call - ask them why they are considered the top. They have always been very friendly and knowledgeable when I've talked to them. I think they are in Sacramento, or close to there.

If you go RELA, you should go with a rear CV too. Don't get the kind that attaches to the stock vibration damper - too many issues with those.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Dawg must have been thinking of leaf springs when he commented about Nat Springs making a set.
No, I was thinking coil...National does coils springs as well.

Anyway...for the kind/mix of driving that you are wanting to do...the long arm kit is the better way to go. You don't have to use the same manuf for the long arm as the lift...

I would still suggest National for the springs....they are not going to try and pawn a poly spacer off on you....give the guys a call and see what they say about long arm kits.

AKA DDawg16
84 CJ7, SOA, 5.7LTBI, 4L60E, 35"x12.5, 4.10 gears, F/Det, R/ARB, Full Roll Cage,
D44 Flat top in progress...
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 04:20 PM
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I like National for springs, but I think it's best, and cheapest to get an entire "package" from a suspension mfgr. for long arms. If the truth were known, probably many are Nationals anyway.

The only thing I don't suggest is using their shocks. Sure, they are OK, but I've found using RS9000's - adjustable, is the best way to go. You need different settings on and off road.

Any "kit" maker that supplies spacers or blocks should be avoided like the AIDS.

Trying to piece together arms from one place, arm mounts from another, springs from another, etc., will only get you problems. Some of the cheapo kits do exactly that.

Now - if you like the stock suspension and want to keep costs way down, you can go with the National springs for a bit more height, then strengthen the upper and lower arms so they can take the off-road punishment.
Seems like I posted some pics how to strengthen those arms easy, just takes some welding.
But still you end up with short arms, so the ride is sacrificed.

But it's a Rubicon, seems terrible to go cheap on it.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
 
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I have to agree with you about the Rubicon thing! I mean I guess I've started out strong, so I have to keep up with that. So with the RE longarm kit, are there any downsides or drawbacks, or is it just superior to the short arm kits all around?
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