2 inch TJ Lift Install

I recently got 'temporarily motivationally challenged' on an off-road excursion - remember "REAL JEEPS DON'T GET STUCK!") So ‘twas time for some sort of a lift for the TJ. Since bucks are tight (as usual) I decided on the Rubicon Express 2" spacer lift with Doetsch Tech shocks. The kit comes with 4 rubber spacers, 4 shocks and 2 rear bump stop extenders.

To install it, your gonna need a set of basic hand tools (mostly metric sizes, but you may need SAE too - best to have both around), a jack - preferably a floor jack, a BFH (Big Friendly Hammer), some good spray lube and some TALL jack stands. Don't forget a Friend. Working on Jeeps is a bonding experience and you'll probably need some help anyway.

Anyways, we started with the rear first. Why? 'Cause I wanted to.

First - a few words about safety.

  • WORK SAFE! It's your carcass under that Jeep and it's heavy if it falls on you.

  • Make sure your install area is clean and flat (did mine on the driveway.)

  • Chock the wheels on the end your not working on - both in front and back of the tire. Don't want the Jeep rolling away whilst your trying to lift it.

  • Use jack stands. Don't use that wimpy little jack that came with the Jeep to hold it up while your working. Why? First off, it won't work. Secondly, we're gonna need it fer something else anyways.

  • If your Jeep looks like mine underneath, wear safety glasses to keep the mud outta your eyes. Or better yet, visit the local Wash-n-Slosh and use their pressure wand to clean out the crud.

OK, so we're ready to start.

Loosen the lug nuts on the rear tires so you don't have to fight 'em later.

Now lift that sucker up high and get the jack stands under the frame. Let it down easy and make sure it's setting solid on the jack stands before you slither up underneath of it. Remember, your Jeep is your friend, but gravity is a real PITA. Lay the tires under the rocker panels of the Jeep as a just-in-case. I put my floor jack back under the pumpkin to raise it up a hair to make working easier.

back end up

Loosen the bolt in the lower shock mount and take it out. Now take out the 2 upper bolts at the top of the shock. Jump outta the way so the shock doesn't whack you upside the noggin as it falls out. Pull the old shock outta the way and go back under and take out the bolt for the anti-sway bar end. While your there, pry the rubber bump stop out and wiggle it outta the spring. Did I mention that some good lube spray would come in handy?

Do the same thing to the other side and we're ready to start phase 2.

Here's the Friend part. Lower the floor jack from under the pumpkin to let the axle hang at full droop. Have Friend stand on the brake drum on one side whilst you pull and cuss that spring out. It'll come out a whole lot easier that it's gonna go back in. Once you got it out, let Friend come down off the brake drum and get back to work. There's a bolt up inside that little bell thingy where the bump stop lives. Take that out and the bell and spring isolator (the big floppy rubber thing) will fall out. Open the package with the bump stop extenders in it. From the new stuff, get 1 extender, the long bolt, and 1 spring spacer. Lube the inside of the spacer good and take your BFH and pound the bump stop extender into the middle of the spacer. Take the bolt and put it through the bell and the extender/spacer assembly and bolt it back into place. The lip of the spacer needs to point DOWN. Snug it up good and do the same to the other side.

OK, you got the spacers/extenders installed and you're ready to put the springs back in. Friend needs to jump back up on the brake drum and really push the axle down this time 'cause you got 2 less inches of space for that spring to fit back in. If necessary, you can try jacking up the one side of the axle to force the other side down, or you can disconnect the track bar. I didn't have to do either one to get my springs in. Find the bump stops that rolled away, lube them up and reinstall them. Wiggle 'em in between the coils and push up into the bell thingy. If they're tight going in, use a long screwdriver to push on the bottom until they pop into place. Once you got all that in place it's time to fight the shocks.

Now, ordinarily, changing shocks is a no-brainer. But these don't come with the little bar-pin at the top. What to do, what to do? Grab up the old shock and lube the bar-pin in the old bushing. Take your BFH and beat the bar-pin outta there. Try not to damage it as you go. Mine worked best to beat it part of the way out, re-lube it, and then go back the other way until it came out. Whew! That's been the hardest part so far.

Take the newly-extracted bar-pin over to your friendly grinder. Grind one end to a slight taper so's it'll go in easier, lube that end real good, point that end into the upper shock bushing and whack it into place. Do that for both and your ready to install your new shocks. Attach the lower bolt first but leave it loose. Extend the shock and put the top bolts back in. Now, tighten the lower bolt. Re-bolt the anti-sway bar end. Might need to jack under the pumpkin again to get it high enough to attach.

Check over all your bolts once more, put the stickers on the shocks and slap the tires back on. Wait! What do you mean they won't fit? Yup, you gotta jack the pumpkin up a little more so's the tires will slide back on. That extra 2 inches made the jack stands too low. Snug up the lug nuts and jack it the rest of the way up so you can pull out the jack stands. Lower it all the way to the ground and torque the lug nuts to 90 ft-lbs.

Stand back and admire your work so far.

OK, that's enough lollygagging. We still gotta do the front!

Here we go again. Loosen the front wheel lug nuts and jack and support the front of the Jeep. Fling the tires under the sides again and we're ready to start. Support the underside of the axle with the floor jack same as you did before. Unbolt the two bolts on the bottom of the shock - ACHTUNG! - these have nuts underneath that you gotta hold - use a socket on the bottom and a wrench on the top. On the top of the shock there's a nut that screws down onto a stud welded to the shock. You gotta hold the stud with an eenie-weenie little wrench so's you can loosen the top nut. Once that's done, yank the shock out. Then unbolt the anti-sway bar link on the end that attaches to the axle. It takes a T-55 Torx bit for the bolt. Go do the other side the same way.

The driver's side spring has a little retainer on the bottom. Remove that, too. Passenger side doesn't have one. Go figure.

Lower the jack from the center and move it so's you can jack up one side of the axle. Put Friend on the other axle end and pull the spring out. Get Friend off the axle. Yank out the bump stop. Wipe the mud, leaves and other riff-raff from the bump stop tower. Remove the bell thingy, lube up the tower and cuss a spacer onto it - again with the lip facing down. BFH is handy here. Reattach the bell thingy and get ready to fight the spring back in. The rear ones are tight going in. The front springs are TIGHT! going in. Now do the other side.

Ya might remember that I said that you'd use the wimpy stock jack sometime. Well, here's your chance. Put jack in so the top is sitting on the axle and the bottom is aimed at the frame. Yup, put 'er in there upside down. Run it up so it pushes the axle and frame apart so's you can get the spring in. WATCH OUT FOR THE BRAKE HOSE!!! Don't stretch it too far. Now you can insert the spring real easy-like. Lower the jack back down and remove it. If your doing the driver's side, put the spring clamp back on. Move the floor jack over and do the same thing on the other side.

jack pushing axle down

Now the shocks. The front shocks come with a new bar pin. Drive it into the bushing with BFH and bolt the bottom in place loosely. Extend the shock and put the top through the hole in the shock tower. Put the nut on it and tighten it down. What's that? You got 1 big nut and 1 little one? Yep, put the big one on and tighten it down and then put the little one on as a lock nut. Tighten the lower bolts and go do the other side the same way. Don't forget the stickers.

Jack up the front axle and reattach the anti-sway bar links. BTW, this is a great time to install some of the quick disconnects if ya got some extra shekels burning a hole in your pocket.

Recheck all the bolts and nuts fer tightness, slap the wheels on, remove the jack stands and lower the monster to the ground. Torque the lug nuts to 90 ft-lbs and your done!

Go inside and treat yourself and Friend to a cold one.

Two final things. One - get the front end aligned. After I did my lift, the front felt kinda wobbly. Turned out that the toe-in was toed-out 89 degrees. It should be toed in 15-45 degrees. Ya don't wanna ruin your brand-spankin-shiny-new-soon-to-be-muddy-big-tires by skipping on the alignment. Two - check the torque on all the bolts after a week. Mine loosened up and started clunking.