Owning a Jeep can be incredibly fun, especially if you enjoy going off-roading. However, stock Jeeps often lack the ground clearance and suspension travel needed to tackle more intense trails. Thankfully, there are several modifications you can make to improve your Jeep’s off-road capabilities.
Install Larger Tires for Jeep’s Off-Road
One of the easiest ways to immediately improve your Jeep’s off-road performance is to install larger, more aggressive tires. Larger diameter tires effectively increase your ground clearance and allow you to roll over larger obstacles. Wider tires with deep, rugged treads provide better traction in mud, snow, and sand. When choosing new tires, make sure to pick a size that doesn’t rub while steering at full lock. You may need to install lift kits or modify the fenders to fit larger tires.
Consider Suspension Lifts
Lifting your Jeep’s suspension is one of the best ways to improve its off-road prowess. There are several options when it comes to suspension lifts. Truck and Jeep suspension lifts range from simple spacer lifts to more complex suspension component swaps. A 2-3 inch lift kit increases ground clearance for clearing obstacles while still allowing for reasonably smooth on-road handling. For major rock crawling, a suspension lift of 4 inches or more may be required. Be aware that lifting your Jeep’s suspension will impact the ride quality and may require additional modifications.
Upgrade Your Suspension Components
Beyond just giving your Jeep a lift, you can upgrade key suspension components to improve wheel articulation and handling over rough terrain. Consider installing stronger coil springs to prevent sagging under load. Upgrade to heavy duty shock absorbers with increased travel and damping force. Swapping in a new track bar and sway bar disconnects can also improve articulation for increased traction. Make sure to install steering stabilizers and adjustable control arms to realign the suspension and steering. Replacing worn ball joints, tie rods, and bushings will also tighten up steering.
Add Protection for the Underbody
When driving over rocks, roots, and ruts, your Jeep’s underbody takes a beating. Adding skid plates and guards can help protect vital components like the engine oil pan, fuel tank, and differentials from impacts and debris. Quality steel skid plates bolt onto the frame to provide durable armor for the underbody. You can also install suspension component guards over control arms, sway bars, and steering links prone to hits. Increased clearance from lifts and larger tires can help prevent underbody strikes as well.
Re-Gear Your Axles
If you are running much larger tires on your Jeep, it may be wise to re-gear your axles with lower numerical ratios. This allows the engine and transmission to better operate with the increased rotating mass of larger tires. Re-gearing improves acceleration and torque while also reducing strain on the drivetrain. Properly re-gearing the axles requires special expertise to get the optimal gear ratio based on your setup. Most serious off-road enthusiasts will upgrade to stronger axles with lockers while they’re re-gearing.
Making a few key upgrades can take your Jeep’s capabilities to the next level. Just be sure to modify your Jeep responsibly with trail etiquette in mind. Head out and enjoy exploring those off-road trails in your enhanced Jeep!