Ahh the age old dilemma – “To lift or not to lift”. For many of us there is only one answer to this question, but a more sensible person might want to consider things a bit.
“That really depends” seems sensible. But “depends” is a really stupid answer. It’s not even an answer. Its a stupid into to whats undoubtedly going to be a stupid answer. So I am going to go ahead and say no, your jeep will not get significantly unbalance or unsafe. As in yes, do it. You will be fine. Lift it!
Even though a lift, both body and suspension, raise the center of gravity of the vehicle – a suspension lift will do it more so, this is offset by a number of factors.
Wheels spacers help you keep your balance.
I got a 4.5 inch lift on my XJ – my daily driver currently. I really didn’t know how this would affect its handling. To offset it, I got 1.5 inch wheel spacers. That’t 4.5 inches of lift and 3 inches of track added. So even though you have made your Jeep taller, you have also made it wider and more stable. I don’t know if the two can be compared directly, but I am gonna go ahead and say that before I added the bigger tires, I had an effective 1.5 inch lift.
The thing is, even with an effective lift of 1.5 inches or more, whatever the actual math works out to be, I think my jeep is actually more stable than it was before due to this second factor.
Off-road Suspension probably performs better than your old factory pieces for on-road driving (provided you don’t remove and toss your sway bars that is).
Think an offroad suspension will make you a softie, increase your ability to absorb bumps? That’s what I though, until my lift kit arrived with front spring coils looking like they were twice as thick as my stock ones. One rear leaf spring seemed like weighed more than both of my wimpy ones combined. This stuff was for a tank!
The thing is that even though off-road vehicles have to absorb a lot more terrain that regular vehicles, which you would think would make their suspension soft, this is not the case at all.
The suspension is from a truck, because offroad vehicles have to absorb all those rocks and tree stumps and live to tell about it. They are stiff. In a road configuration, if you keep your sway bars, and get disconnects for offroad, your aftermarket lift kit will probably make your vehicle handle pretty well, even with a higher center of gravity.
I went from a tired, worn out, soft, sagging suspension, to a stiff monster. The thing had so little flex, I was wondering how it would ever be able to go over rocks.
I have very little body roll compared to before. I can actually drive aggresively on on-ramps and off-ramps (aggresively for a lifted jeep). Most days I find myself impatiently waiting for the bmw or Audi in front of me to gather up the balls to use something other than the brake while turning.
The point is that the new suspension actually feels better and more confidence inspiring. All things considered, you are still in a lifted Jeep, and when that tipping point comes, it will come quick so I try to not push it. But that’s not the point. The point is that your lifted Jeep will still be very roadworthy. Sound like an oxymoron? There is another one coming up.
Off-road tires have massive road grip (compared to the common belief that they are only good off-road).
With a lift, you are getting bigger tires. It’s a given. Don’t even.
But… what the hell? That doesn’t make any sense. You need slicks for maximum grip on pavement. Your mud terrain tires have big knobs on them, which makes for a poor contact patch with the asphalt. They have huge sidewalls, which would make them squishier in turns. The knobs look like they would wear down to nothing in a few thousand miles, wasting your expensive investment. They should be terrible driving on the road right?
Wrong. Offroad tires are good. I have 31 inch GoodYear mud terrains, and even though my Jeep sounds like a biplane going by, it grips and stops way better that my wheeny road tires.
Size is a key player here. Offroad tires in most cases have a significantly bigger diameter than stock tires – of course, exactly how much bigger all depends on which ones you choose. This makes for a much larger contact patch – same reason people choose 29er mountain bikes. Off-road tires are also wider in many cases = larger contact patch.
The knobs on your tires flex, generating heat, making the tire warm up faster = even more grip. The sidewalls are big and squishy, yes, but they are also reinforced with materials like kevlar, meaning they are much less squishy than they look.
So your contact patch with the road and along with it, your grip may actually increase over your stock street oriented tires.
All weather performance? Many of us would probably agree with the statement that all weather performance tires such in all types of weather and if the manufacturer adds a “performance” aspect as well, that just seems like a joke.
Your all terrains, mud terrains and rock crawlers rule all types of terrain. And they rule all types of weather on pavement also. Got rain? Ok. Hardly noticeable. If you look at the tires formula one uses for rainy weather, you will see – they have knobs on them! Why? because the extra heat generated from the flexing of the knobs means the tire can heat up, and stay at the right temperature for maximum grip in rainy weather. Rain? Check.
Snow? Yes please. I have very good grip on snow with my mud terrains. When we have snowstorms and all the parking spots are covered in 4 foot high snow banks, I just plump my Cherokee right on top of that snowbank. With the extra heat generated from off-road tires along with those massive tread blocks showeling snow out from under you like its their job, you may not even have to use four wheel drive that often in the winter.
Bad drivers – they stay away.
This may be funny, but ubderskilled, inattentive, and inconsiderate drivers pose a serious road hazard. But not to you. When you are barreling down the road, they notice, and they pay attention. Inconsiderate drivers stop being so inconsiderate, for fear you will just roll over their Honda and keep going if they cut you off.
Lift it already!
As you can tell from this article, I am fairly one sided on the “To lift or not to lift” issue. I think I made some good point though. If you agree, its time for you to lift it!