Rusty's 3" Grand Cherokee Lift
|Installation and impression of Rusty's ZJ lift||Short Cuts|
By: Randy Halvorsen - 9/2002
|Rusty's Off-Road Products 3" Grand Cherokee lift|
Over the last several years I have had several different lift variations installed on my '94 Grand Cherokee, beginning with the F>R lift which I documented 2 years ago here in the pages of 4x4wire.com. Since then, ZJ's have become much more common on the trail and more aftermarket parts are available now than ever before. At this years Grand Slam West, there were approximately 45 Grand Cherokee's, most of which were modified for off-highway use.
I ordered my 3" Rusty's lift through Crawford Jeep in Raytown, Missouri. Drew Cresswell, the parts-department manager at Crawford's, is very familiar with Jeeps of all flavors, and is a distributor for Rusty's Off-Road Products. One week later I had my new kit, and was ready to install it.
|The springs and rear track-bar extension bracket. Front springs on the left.||Old yellow Monroe and the new Hydra-shock. Notice the difference in diameter.||The old rear spring compared to the new Rusty's one.|
Because of the design of the Grand Cherokee suspension, as you lift the body, the axles are pulled to one side or the other. The preferred solution for this is to install adjustable-length track bars, so that the axles can be centered under the Jeep again. If you are not going with the adjustable trac-bar, Rusty includes an extension bracket for the rear track bar. I had installed this with a previous lift about 1.5 years ago, and when I was installing this lift, I noticed that the original trac-bar bracket on the axle had begun to crack. Rusty's extension bracket allows additional leverage to be placed on the factory bracket, causing it to crack, and eventually break, even with moderate use. For this reason, I recommend that you go with an adjustable trac-bar. These are offered by several manufacturers, including Rusty's.
For the front trac-bar, it is acceptable to drill an additional mounting hole in the trac-bar bracket on the axle. But there is only room for one hole, and if you do not get it right the first time, you don't get another chance. I opted to go with Rusty's adjustable front trac-bar. This gave me the ability to exactly center the axle under my Jeep.
First order of business is to get the Jeep up on some solid jack stands. After loosening the lug nuts on the front wheels, I jacked-up the front end and placed jack stands underneath the uniframe 'frame', directly behind the control-arm brackets. After placing a floor jack underneath the axle, to support the axle weight, I removed the tires, shocks, the axle-end of the control arms, and the axle-end of the trac-bar. Then, by lowering the jack underneath the axle, the springs will 'loose'. I also removed the spring retainer clip at the bottom of each spring. With a little coaxing, you should be able to remove the bottom of the spring, and slip it down off of the bump-stop tower which is in the center of the spring.
|Right front spring is in place.||Getting ready to pull the old rear spring.|
To make it easier to slip the new front springs into place, I removed the bumpstops. The bumpstop itself is just 'pressed into' the cup, and is not fastened in. So you just need to twist and pry onit until it pops out. Then there is a 15mm bolt holding the cup in place which you will need to remove. I taped the the bump stop and cup together, taped them to the inside of the spring, and then slipped the spring into place. A small pry bar may be necessary to pop the spring into place on the passenger-side, because the tie-rod won't let that side of the axle drop as far as the drivers side.
After the springs are in place you will need to reconnect the control arms, and install the new shocks.
The rear is easier because you don't have the steering hardware interfering with the install. As in the front, you need to disconnect the control arms, track-bar and remove the shocks. After the old springs are removed, slip the new springs into place. Verify that they are seated properly and then fasten the spring retainer down to the bottom of the spring. You will then need to re-connect the control arms, and your track-bar using the extension bracket provided with the lift kit.
Anytime you change the lift on the Grand Cherokee, you will need to have a front-end alignment. It is surprising how much the toe will change with just a couple inches of lift.
The lift helps enormously while off-road. I am much less likely to drag the undercarriage while traversing obstacles. The springs are quite soft, and allow very good articulation. The lift gave me an initial lift of about 4", but after a couple months it has settled to about 3.5". On the road, the ride is somewhat stiffer and I believe this is due to the shocks. Off the road, the shocks still have a hard time adequately controlling the weight of the Grand Cherokee. But they are a significant improvement of the Monroe's that they replaced.
For the money invested, I would not hesitate to recommend this lift to anyone who is looking to lift their Jeep. The one significant draw-back that I experienced is the rear trac-bar extension bracket. Mine has cracked the original factory bracket because of the additional leverage placed on it. Fortunately, I was able to weld some reinforcement onto the bracket to correct this problem. The answer for this problem is to go with an adjustable track-bar.
|This is how the finished product looked before I added the heavy bumper and rocker protection.||View with new ARB bumper and JED's rocker protection.|
9401 E. SR 350
Raytown, MO 64133