Jump to content
BadDriver4x4

How Do You Properly Lift a Jeep Liberty for More Ride Height?

Recommended Posts

I'd like to get a 2 1/2" lift on my Liberty pretty soon to deal with the snow we should be getting any day now. What is the best setup in order to be safe, have good road performance, and not do major changes to the geometry? I wouldn't mind if it were on the lower end of the price range as well, but safety and reliability are more important.

I also have a related question about wheels and tire sizes I found a set of 16" Aluminum Dodge wheels and some great "used" Cooper M+S tires at a fantastic price, but the tires are P225 70 R16 instead of P235 70 R16. According to charts this is not an unacceptable difference, but what can I really expect from the tire size difference and the Dodge car wheels? We decided this was going to be the best bet for good winter tires quick. My cousin also owns the Used Parts yard where we're buying the wheels and tires so I have no doubts about the quality of the wheels or tires which I have looked at, and we fitted the wheels to be sure they would work before going ahead with mounting the tires and tire balance. Now we have time to get some good "All Season" tires for next summer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BadDriver4x4...Did some research to see what is currently available in mild lifts.  My main concern is that you have an IFS front end.  If you simply use longer coil springs or spacers and readjust the camber, caster and toe, that may not be enough.  The stock control arms will point downward at static vehicle height and eat up wheel travel.  Simply put, you shorten the range of travel for the front end.

The only "correct" lift will provide full travel, and it usually requires a redesigned upper control arm to facilitate full wheel travel.  Without knowing the quality of this kit, here is an example of one solution for the front suspension geometry and travel:  http://www.1aauto.com/2002-04-jeep-liberty-strut-and-suspension-kit-front/i/1asfk02088?f=887327&y=2004&utm_campaign=gb_csv_br&utm_content=SFK&gclid=CjwKEAiA7f-yBRDAgdv4jZ-78TwSJAA_WdMa6VlwA2EnSHhWfqsYD16-PR5yTDbA1bvwcRntwZPfPhoCY-7w_wcB.  I cannot speak for the product's quality or actual engineering but simply want to illustrate a concept that makes sense.

The rear lift is a no-brainer.  Spacers and springs with longer shocks work.  There are also more exotic solutions that provide additional wheel travel.  Here's one example:  http://jeeplibertyliftkits.com/index.php/jeep-liberty-lift-kits-2002-2007/2-50-kj-lift-kit-jeep-liberty.html.

As for wheels, backspacing is crucial.  The front end geometry and vehicle dynamics are impacted by the wheel back spacing.  The key concern is scrub radius.  Tire wear, handling and safety are important factors.  Check the backspacing on the Dodge wheels and compare to the Liberty.

Keep in mind that the Liberty can be tipsy, there is considerable weight up high.  My rule of thumb is that a chassis lift requires widening the wheel track width to restore the center-of-gravity.  This applies to the KJ Liberty, and one way to widen track width is with wheels that have shallower backspacing.  This moves the tire centerlines outward. 

Moses

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I guess I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit. I like the lift kit you linked to. It's in the right price range too. The problem now is that I might have to replace a rear upper control arm. The one in the Liberty now is pretty well shot. I also need to find out if the lower control arms have been replaced under the recall. It would probably be a good idea to make sure I don't meet a guard rail due to the wobble of death before I change the height of the Jeep. Who came up with that design? 

As for widening the track, will a simple set of wheel adapters do the job? I suppose there is a quick way and a right way. I'm beginning to think I jumped into this deal without all my ducks in a row, but sometimes you take a leap of faith hoping you come out ahead. The Dodge\Chrysler wheels fit well and I'll get some pictures up as soon as we get a decent day to take them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BadDriver4x4...Make sure the lift kit is both ends of the vehicle, some were front only...Yes, make sure you have safe components in place!

I'm not an advocate of wheel spacers, and generally with a lift, you'll install oversized tires that need wider rims anyway.  If so, the wider rims can be selectively chosen for their backspacing.  You end up getting both wider rims and more track width if you choose the correct backspacing at the same time.  

Backspacing also affects vehicle front end geometry and dynamics, so stay within manufacturers' recommendations for the Jeep KJ Liberty.  You're not striving for the "roller skate" look, just enough track width increase to offset the lift and center of gravity change.

Check out the online catalogs for Jeep wheels from major manufacturers, they all list the diameter, width and backspacing options for specific models.  Wheel center hole and bolt pattern diameter must be correct as well.

Moses

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For some reason I can't ask a new question in this area of the forum, which doesn't bother me too much as this is question is of a sensitive nature. Is there a way to defeat the seat belt alarm by removing a particular fuse, without disabling the engine? My name is Bad Driver isn't it? Still talking about the 2005 LIberty.

I do know where there is a set of norml black steel wheels that are center offset. Would those be suitable to compensate with a small lift? I like the lift you linked to it looks well made at a decent price point.

Edited by BadDriver4x4
Addition

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Problem. Seatbelts are not required in New Hampshire, and we go there quite often. Just hoping I didn't need to sit on the seat belt while there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Found a junk yard fix to the seatbelt alarm issue. Grabbed a belt buckle clasp and modified it to fit. No noise, and belts are still 100% safe.

Too bad that didn't stop the need for complete brake work with e-brake rebuild, steering rack, new muffler and final exhaust pipe replacement. (Muffler was good except for the part leading to the rusted off pipe.Couldn't be saved economically.) I'm sure there is something else major I'm forgetting. The most recent "repair" was a new transmission mount and U-joint. If it weren't for the fact that it's the only inspected and running vehicle at our disposal right now I wouldn't have done that much more work on it. The rocker panels are about gone past the center of the vehicle, and rust in other areas came on quickly. The rear suspension is also shot. (Uninspectable in Vermont without $1000.00s worth of repair, and not worth that.) 

I doubt I'm the only one to have these problems with a 12 year old Jeep by Chrysler, but it has convinced me that I will NEVER buy another Chrysler product EVER again. It seems as though they all die on me way too soon. I'll stick to Willy's and AMC era Jeeps from now on. Looking for a newer SUV now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BadDriver4x4...Chrysler product or not, sounds like rust has taken its toll on this Liberty KJ.  There was a time when the Rust Belt was limited to the Midwest, but the insidious use of salt and brine on winter roads has spread across the country.  Our home State of Nevada, one of the driest and least likely states in the country to see rust develop on a vehicle, is now headed into the abyss.  Highways, roads and the Interstates are getting a thorough saturation with brine before each winter storm, and the brine becomes live and active when rain, sleet or snow arrive.

In the past few decades, vehicle manufacturers have used more galvanized and niche metals or plastics for rust resistance, but they are hardly a match for salt brine and crystals.  We need to press for the elimination of oxidizing corrosives on winter highways.  As ingenious as chemical manufacturers can be, there must be cost-effective ways to combat ice and snow on highways without using rust-causing agents.

As for Chrysler, some of their vehicles are less evil than the competition.  No better way to put it.  Our 2005 Dodge Ram/Cummins 3500 4x4 (purchased new) has many virtues along with its share of engineering shortfalls.  On the downside, I have dealt with the weaknesses of the 48RE automatic transmission, the power steering gear and the driveshafts.  At some point soon, I will remove the entire dash assembly to fix the flaps and actuator mechanisms in the HVAC assembly.  The telltale lack of floor-directed heat is just one sign that the plastic HVAC parts are crumbling.  This problem is epidemic...Really?

 Compared to competitive brands, we're "better off".  Were this a G.M. or Ford diesel pickup built that same year, I could be facing major, chronic engine troubles.  The Ford 6.0L diesel is an utter disaster.  The G.M. Duramax is no panacea.  Next to our Cummins 5.9L or a 6.7L, I'm the winner.   I also like the front beam axle of the Ram—AAM's 9.25".  I've only recently replaced the two unit hub bearings at 163K miles.  Though some  Ram 4x4 owners have dealt with ball-joint and steering linkage trouble, these systems are still intact on our truck.

I understand your point, though I'll take it a step further.  People either want or have been coerced and mandated into wanting much more car-like "content" on light trucks and SUVs.  They expect car-like ease of operation and trinkets.  This ultimate leads to trouble and expensive repairs. 

The focus of this magazine and its forums is consumer support, and I would be quick to note that we would all be better off, at least from a vehicle maintenance, service access and long term cost standpoint, with 1970s and to some degree 1980s 4x4 technology.  If you want to control the "climate" in your pickup truck or SUV with just a single knob, you may get to remove the massive dash assembly to access and fix the HVAC.

Our 2005 Ram and 1999 XJ Cherokee are each "experiments".  If they do not deliver well or fall short in the ease of repair realm, they will be our last late model vehicles.  As a point of interest, the models that have served us best in the past were 1971-91 beam front axle G.M. 4x4s, which include the K10/1500, the K20/2500 and K5 SUVs.  These were non-IFS, conventional pickup, Suburban and Blazer/Jimmy trucks that held up remarkably well and could be readily serviced when necessary—which wasn't too often or "out of the blue" like the Ram's plastic heater/AC blending, ventilation and re-circulation flaps just waiting to fail.  My favorite 4x4 picks of the G.M. bunch were the 1971-79 models, followed by 1980-86 pickups and the Suburbans or Blazers through 1991.  For Ford aficionados, I'd stick to the 1976-79 F-series 4x4s.

In the future, we might find ourselves driving a restored 1987-91 Suburban 3/4-ton 4x4, a '71-'86 Chevy/GMC SWB 1/2-ton 4x4 or a '71-'86 3/4-ton G.M. 4x4 pickup.  We'll see how much humor I have left after removing the entire dash assembly to upgrade the plastic and nylon HVAC flaps on our Ram.

Moses

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't mean to bash anyone's choice of vehicles, but I haven't owned a domestic Chrysler that didn't treat me badly. I have owned a few, and the best were those that didn't have American roots. Even those ran afoul of rust or time.

I used to have a Jeep Cherokee 4 cylinder, I think it was an 85? (Always thought it was under powered, and no 4x4 goodies in early 90s for it.) I still have a new bumper, bumper hangers, and headlight rings for it. I haven't owned it for 22 years, but I haven't sold those parts yet. I've had a Plymouth Colt, a Plymouth Arrow pickup, a Plymouth Sundance (Junk, major electrical problems.) I owned a Plymouth Acclaim (Good engine, bad body - rust) I owned a Dodge Dakota RWD (Bad motor)  Now, this Jeep Liberty. (And the Jeep Cherokee that I bought for my younger ungrateful daughter. (That is a book I won't start here.) ) So, I have good and bad stories about many cars, but Chrysler products in particular have been my Jonah. ( I also owned a 1974 Plymouth Roadrunner. My first big mistake in car trading as a teenager.)

BTW, I own a 2004 Ford F-250 Super Duty Diesel that has had no problems. I have a Ford Windstar that has never been a problem until....well, let's just say an accident put it out of commission. I'm buying a parts car this coming Monday to get the parts I need to get the Windstar back on the road without costing a small fortune. 

So, I like Ford, and even Chevrolet, and had no, or relatively few problems with both. Even rust is slow to overtake them. I do of course have the '79 Jeep CJ 7 project sitting in my yard. Even though it sounds like I have a car collection we live on a shoestring and I now have to do much more work myself, so I'm learning how to do body work and the only car on the road right now is the Liberty, that is until the end of December. If we don't have a "new" car by then we will be walking for a while until we can afford to get the F-250 inspected. (Vermont just enacted some Draconian inspection "laws", and prices for inspections doubled, and in some cases tripled. That's before you buy a single part.)

Moses, I fully agree with you. I would much rather have the old mechanical connections to motor and drivetrain. For cars designed for new gadgetry It's all well and good, but trucks should never try to be cars. (I do like a nice lowered '69-'70 Chevy C10 though.)

So, please, don't think that these things will or must happen to you if you own a Chrysler product. I've just had bad luck with the ones I've owned.

Side note: Does anyone else think that car dealers have found more ways to rip you off than most thieves? IE: a Government Fee? What's that? (No, not taxes)

Happy Thanksgiving all, and have a Merry Christmas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A sensible topic to discuss, autos and trucks are an embedded facet of our culture.  We're each impacted, often in similar ways.  See my comments below...

6 hours ago, BadDriver4x4 said:

I didn't mean to bash anyone's choice of vehicles, but I haven't owned a domestic Chrysler that didn't treat me badly. I have owned a few, and the best were those that didn't have American roots. Even those ran afoul of rust or time.

I've owned and registered vehicles since the age of 14 (54 years ago) and have come to practical conclusions about various models, makes and, mainly, vehicle components.  Sensible to review and make sense of this...The parts make up the whole, a smart basis for choosing a vehicle. 

I used to have a Jeep Cherokee 4 cylinder, I think it was an 85? (Always thought it was under powered, and no 4x4 goodies in early 90s for it.) I still have a new bumper, bumper hangers, and headlight rings for it. I haven't owned it for 22 years, but I haven't sold those parts yet. I've had a Plymouth Colt, a Plymouth Arrow pickup, a Plymouth Sundance (Junk, major electrical problems.) I owned a Plymouth Acclaim (Good engine, bad body - rust) I owned a Dodge Dakota RWD (Bad motor)  Now, this Jeep Liberty. (And the Jeep Cherokee that I bought for my younger ungrateful daughter. (That is a book I won't start here.) ) So, I have good and bad stories about many cars, but Chrysler products in particular have been my Jonah. ( I also owned a 1974 Plymouth Roadrunner. My first big mistake in car trading as a teenager.)

Wow, that's a lot of Chrysler exposure to draw upon!  The early XJ Cherokee 2.5L was not a performance firebrand but often lasted 250-300,000 miles.  The unitized body vehicle became iconic for its utility and relative service simplicity (unlike changing spark plugs in the Liberty!);  the parts you have kept would be a ready sale on eBay.  We've had our share of regrets about buying and selling, ironically the new 2002 Liberty KJ purchase was not only a disappointment, we let our '87 Grand Wagoneer go for a pittance at the same time.  Not sure which judgment call was worse...As for our children and cars, we all have our share of stories, ours is brief:  we gave our daughter the beloved, higher mileage though pristine 1976 Datsun 280Z, and her boyfriend got distracted and ran it into the back of a truck loaded with overhanging pipe.

BTW, I own a 2004 Ford F-250 Super Duty Diesel that has had no problems. I have a Ford Windstar that has never been a problem until....well, let's just say an accident put it out of commission. I'm buying a parts car this coming Monday to get the parts I need to get the Windstar back on the road without costing a small fortune.

I like the "not costing a small fortune" working model these days.  Sounds like you should be equally grateful that you can do this work yourself and avoid the pitfalls of new vehicles that have $30K-$70K price tags with no assurance that they will be trouble-free once out of warranty.   

So, I like Ford, and even Chevrolet, and had no, or relatively few problems with both. Even rust is slow to overtake them. I do of course have the '79 Jeep CJ 7 project sitting in my yard. Even though it sounds like I have a car collection we live on a shoestring and I now have to do much more work myself, so I'm learning how to do body work and the only car on the road right now is the Liberty, that is until the end of December. If we don't have a "new" car by then we will be walking for a while until we can afford to get the F-250 inspected. (Vermont just enacted some Draconian inspection "laws", and prices for inspections doubled, and in some cases tripled. That's before you buy a single part.)

I'm sensitive to the cost of vehicles and parts these days.  Way too much of our income goes to cars, trucks and transportation in general.  My aim with both free (at the magazine) and streaming rental (Vimeo On Demand) how-to videos is to help folks professionalize their approach to specific restoration and rebuilding tasks that might otherwise be inaccessible.  There are many millions of drivers dependent on transportation but unable to afford the $90-$120 per hour labor charges at dealerships and independent shops.  Parts costs are bad enough, the labor is crippling.  There's no discussion in the news about how many people depend on higher mileage, aging vehicles.  It's like the "Emperor's New Clothes", we're led to believe that everyone is just a step away from the next new vehicle purchase.  As a matter of principle, our 2005 Ram 3500 4x4 will likely be the last new vehicle we'll ever buy, it would cost $50K-$55K or more to replace this truck in the current market.  That's a lot of money for something that will wear over time and depreciate like a rock.  We bought a comfortable smaller house at Oakridge, Oregon in 1990 for $54,900.

Moses, I fully agree with you. I would much rather have the old mechanical connections to motor and drivetrain. For cars designed for new gadgetry It's all well and good, but trucks should never try to be cars. (I do like a nice lowered '69-'70 Chevy C10 though.)

I would like a 1971-72 Chevy K10 4x4 SWB or 3/4-ton Suburban 4x4...Disc front brakes and a bulletproof, accessible drivetrain!  Same body style as your favorite.

So, please, don't think that these things will or must happen to you if you own a Chrysler product. I've just had bad luck with the ones I've owned.

No point in being apologists for FCA.  They're doing exceptionally well, producing trucks and Jeep vehicles in record numbers whether the HVAC plenums fail prematurely or not.  

Side note: Does anyone else think that car dealers have found more ways to rip you off than most thieves? IE: a Government Fee? What's that? (No, not taxes)

The dealership model is simple:  Each area of the store must return maximum profit.  This makes "Service Department" an oxymoron.  Our local Ram dealership charges $118 per hour and does add shop supplies and similar fees that, we should assume, have to do with disposing of waste materials?

Happy Thanksgiving all, and have a Merry Christmas.

Yes, there is life beyond auto-mobility and our dependence (addiction in some cases) on motor vehicles.  Many of us like technology and mechanics, processes like wrenching and welding, which actually satisfy an instinctive need for us as a "toolmaker" species.  I've maintained my sense of appreciation for tools and still enjoy the satisfaction of restorative work that adds another whole life to an inanimate mechanical system...and yes, have a wonderful Holiday Season with family and friends!...Moses

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...