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Mild Lifting with OEM Parts

Root Moose

NAXJA Forum User
ON, Canada
Good Day!

I've been away from modifying XJs for about ten years. I have a moderately built XJ (32s, long arms, armour, etc.) that has been completed and used for the last ten years and I have a couple of stock XJs and an MJ project that needs some love.

One of my XJs (2001 Classic) has been sitting for the last ten years and I am going to put it back on the road this winter. For this build I was going to do a mild "OEM+" build. The idea being to use as many factory parts as possible to make a very usable, comfortable XJ on 29-30-31" tires (whatever works and is reasonable). No body/chassis cutting or welding ideally. These Jeeps are starting to get collectible so I want to retain the option to put it back to stock (rust free Jeep).

I could have sworn there used to be a sticky in forums that talked about how to use ZJ springs, WJ arms, and other bits and bobs to do this kind of a mild lift. Maybe my searching is not very good anymore.

I'm also interested in any related/workable steering or braking fixes that can be done. I have WJ brakes on my other XJ and I love them for their stopping power but I'm not a fan of the fiddling required when changing the rotors. I also really like the WJ steering but will that work with a lower lift? Maybe there are better options nowadays. The Jeep will be used for towing up to the rated limit.

Can anyone provide any pointers or links to get me up to speed?

Thanks, All!
Oh, and what's the largest size tire that will fit in the back? Am I mis-remembering 30"?
I'm on a 2" lift. With 31's. Actually, metric tires near 31". I do have WJ Big Brakes. I used 2000-2001 XJ 16" rims. Crown does sell 1.5" lift or Up Country springs. I put a Ford 8.8 in the rear for 3.73 gears and a ZJ front for 3.73 gears. I did have another XJ with 31's and 4.10 gears. Much better on hilly or mountain grades. I'd say 1/2 mpg less on the highway.
On Big-bro I run WJ brakes with the factory XJ steering (Currie), and in Lil-sis I carry a 31x10.50-15 in the factory spare mount inside.
I have built several XJ's with budget boost DIY lifts for myself, and for members of my local Jeep Club.

Unless severely abused, XJ coil springs last almost forever, so coil spring spacers of your choice are functional and acceptable. Coil spacers are easier to find and have a more predictable outcome than junkyard coils. The rear stock leaf springs can be boosted with a store bought Add-A-Leaf or with and extra leaf or two from a junkyard leaf pack. XJ leaf packs and GM S-10 are suitable donors.

My 2.5" full length Rubicon Express Add-A-Leaf is installed in and working well in XJ number three.

At 1-2" of lift the stock control arms and the track bar are OK. 30x9.5 tires will fit nicely. At 2-3" of lift you may want longer lower control arms and some sort of track bar changes. Longer fixed lower control arms are not expensive. 31x10.5 tires will fit but may rub. Light trimming of the plastic parts usually solves that.

I started out with a stock 2000 XJ and installed a 2" budget boost lift, that was replaced by a full 3.5" lift, that was upgraded to 5.5 inches. Almost every lift kit part was purchased used from other XJ and TJ owners who were upgrading.
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If you plan on taking it back to stock, I would advise against WJ arm swap.
I did that (upper and Lower) on my stock MJ and found that I have a clunk. Doing a little more research, the WJ uses SAE or Metric bolt and the XJ is the opposite. When comparing the two, the WJ bolt is slightly larger and when using XJ bolts, it floats around just enough to cause a clunk and be annoying. this can be fixed by drilling out the xj mouts to 14mm or whatever size for the larger WJ bolt but then you cant go back to the smaller stock arms later.

I dont know if the arms are different lengths or not but when turning close to lock, the tires seem to fold over and force the steering wheel into full lock. As soon as I pony up and buy some solid stock length arms, Im swapping these out.
Thanks for the replies. Appreciated.

At the moment what I'm thinking is 255/70-16 or 255/65-17. Basically something around 30" tall and a little less sidewall than a 15" wheel/tire combo. Something with good highway manners for towing and cruising but adequate gravel road/trail prowling.

I'm guessing that means ~2" of lift. Liking the spacer idea. Do I need adjustable front arms? What height is adjustable arms desired?

I should not need an SYE at that lift height? What is the height where an SYE becomes required?

I guess I'll stick with the WJ brake/steering option. Just re-familiarized with the JKS site and the parts are not super expensive.
Typically at 2-3 inches of lift an SYE is not required, and longer lower control arms will be optional, the stockers should be fine. Each XJ is it's own universe, so you may or may not want a transfer case drop. At about 3 inches of lift longer lower control arms will be beneficial.
Sorry, reading comprehension wasn't that great when I posted last. Lots to unpack.

Under ~2" of lift stock length arms are fine? The stock arms are such flimsy things maybe I'll upgrade to adjustable in the future but for now they are fine. WJ arms are the same length?

Boomerang shackles and an extra leaf should match 2" front? Maybe a little block with the shckles would work better? I guess I won't know till I get it mointed up. The original leaves "only" have ~160k kms on them but have seen gravity for 22 years so who knows how flat they are really...

Thanks, All.
Ha, our posts passed each other at the same time.

Thanks for the additional SYE note.

I won't do a transfer case drop just on principle. Ha
You will only find out if need a sye after the lift. I own (2) 20000's and 1 didn't need a sye at 3" and the other one "did" and both xj's are identical models!
I should that the one jeep didn't like a h-n-t, I had to go with a HD sye!
The stock control arms are are surprisingly robust, their design allows for a bit of flex if necessary, but they snap right back.

My 98 has +284,000 miles on the stock leaf springs, an Add-A-Leaf plus an extra stock XJ leaf inserted into the leaf pack fixed the slight sag and gives it 3" of lift.