JKS Jeep Wrangler TJ Suspension Review
The ’97 to ’06 Jeep Wrangler TJ is one of the most capable out-of-the-box 4x4s ever produced. With an enormous amount of aftermarket support, the ability to customize your Jeep exactly to your liking has never been easier. By far, one of the most popular areas of modification is the suspension system. The stock coil-spring multilink suspension under the Wrangler is plenty capable for light off-road exploration and more than ample for the day-to-day grind. However, with just a little modification, it can drastically increase the off-road performance of the Jeep.
While there are plenty of suspension options, JKS Manufacturing’s new JSPEC TJ system is one of the best suited for a Wrangler that is looking to explore off-road, but continue its daily commuting duties. Building on some of the existing positives of the TJ’s factory suspension system, the JSPEC two-inch performance suspension is a modest lift designed to improve the vehicles off-road attributes, without taking away from the on-road ride quality. We installed one of the JKS systems on our daily driven ’03 Jeep Wrangler Sport and the benefits were immediately noticed off-road and on. Here, you can follow along as we install the kit with the Jeep experts at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Part of the allure of the two-inch suspension is that it doesn’t drastically increase the angle of the stock control arms. This allows the Jeep to keep its good on-road manners, while still providing enough lift to stuff on larger tires and increase ground clearance. Each JKS TJ kit includes an adjustable front track bar, four progressive-rate coil springs, four gas-charged shocks, track bar relocation bracket, sway bar disconnects, cam bolts, and all necessary hardware.
Providing the two inches of additional suspension height are progressive-rate lift coils. The dual-stage coils are excellently matched to the lightweight Wrangler platform and provide a true two inches of lift. Each coil is complemented with specially valved JSPEC gas-charged shock.
To properly center the front axle, JKS provides a heavy-duty adjustable track bar. The ¼-inch-wall DOM tubing track bar is engineered for 1 to 3.5 inches of lift and has a spherical urethane bushing at the frame end and durable rubber bushing at the axle.
Since JKS allows you to reuse the stock control arms, the company includes a set of cam bolts so you can properly position the caster of the axle. The benefit of reusing the stock arms is you take advantage of the stock rubber bushings, which are incredibly durable and allow the axle to freely move without binding. For those looking to explore harsher rocky terrain, you may want to look at JKS’s control arms.
Centering the rear axle is a bolt-on track bar bracket which raises the track bar’s mounting location at the axle. By doing so, it increases the stability and handling of the Jeep, both on-road and off.
As the originator of the sway-bar disconnect, it’s no surprise that the greaseable endlinks are included with the kit. To give you a spot to mount the bars when you are ready to disconnect and hit the trail, JKS provides these bolt-on frame mounts.
Just like the front, new progressive-rate coils and TJ-specific gas-charged shocks raise the back.
Increasing the off-road performance without sacrificing on-road comfort is the cornerstone of the JKS suspension system. To compliment this, the Jeep was fit with 33x12.50R15 Nitto Trail Grapplers, which are known for extreme performance in the dirt and quite ride on the road. While JKS recommends a 32-inch-tall tire for this kit, we opted for the 33-inch Load Range C mud-terrain radials since the larger foot print will allow the vehicle to excel in the muddy conditions it typically ‘wheels in.
Securing the mud-terrain radials are 15x8 Fuel Anza wheels. The cast-aluminum wheel set provides 3.75 inches of backspacing, which is perfect for this setup.
Since the suspension lift is only two inches, no driveshaft modifications were required. We were also able to re-use the Jeep stock brake lines with the addition of provided hardline drop brackets up front.
We’re enjoying the new setup so far, but our TJ build is far from over. Be sure to check back for updates on our ever-evolving TJ.
JKS Manufacturing, jksmfg.com