Lowered Jeep Wrangler: How-To Guide (5 Steps)
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A Jeep Wrangler features a high ground clearance or ride height so that you can drive them on several terrains without damaging their underbody. Some owners, though, prefer a lowered Jeep Wrangler mostly because they stopped traversing off-road trails or have a new off-road capable Jeep. Although naturally, you can actually drive Wranglers on a smooth road or highway, lowering the unit correctly can make the ride smoother and help you save fuel.
So, how can you have a lowered Jeep Wrangler that can perform well on smooth surfaces or highways? You can consider five methods or steps that mostly involve modifications in the Jeep Wrangler’s suspension system. You can also mostly do them on your own as long as you have the right skills.
Since we all have different skillsets and budgets, one method might be suitable for one and not for the other. Some procedures are also more tedious and risky than the rest, so it’s best to understand each of them before deciding. Let’s look into the steps you can take to lower your Jeep Wrangler successfully and possible issues if the procedures are done incorrectly.
How Do I Lower My Jeep Wrangler?
Every car manufacturer designs their units with unique specifications and features to ensure they perform well. Nonetheless, modifying them is a car owner’s personal choice, especially with off-road vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler.
Issues With Improperly Lowered Jeep Wrangler
Since you would be modifying your car, the effects of these changes can either be negative or positive, depending on how well you performed the task. Some of the problems to watch out for are:
1. Improper Suspension Alignment
Generally, vehicles will gain a camber of approximately -0.75 degrees for each inch you lower it. A negative camber might have an advantage in terms of corner grip and tire rollover, but it can increase tire wear. Also known as tramlining, your Wrangler’s wheels might also start following the contours of the surfaces on where you drive it regularly. This will lead to lane control difficulties.
Fortunately, you can easily correct negative camber problems, especially if the new ride height isn’t too low, by adjusting it. If not, you can get the right alignment by opting for coilovers with camber plates, getting new camber plates, or using adjustable control arm or camber bolt.
2. Imprecise Roll Center and Center of Gravity (COG)
Similar to any other 4WDs (plus RWDs), the COG and rear roll center of the Wrangler must be set precisely. Any imprecision will lead to the ineffective loading of tires under throttle. It will also make it at risk of wheel hopping or the wheel moving more freely within its well than it should normally be.
The good thing is that you can find kits that will help correct lowered Wrangler roll center issues and possible bump steers. These kits come in many names like RCAS (Roll Center Adjusters), drop knuckles, and Bumpsteer Kit.
3. Incorrect Drivetrain Angle
Whichever type of axles your current Wrangler has, once you lower the vehicle too low or incorrectly, it can cause binding, wheel hopping, axle wrapping, quicker drivetrain wearing, vibrations, and increased drivetrain vibrations.
Steps To Lower Your Jeep Wrangler
You can effectively reduce your Wrangler’s ride height using five different steps or methods recommended by most mechanics. They are:
1. Use a Shorter Spring
Like most cars, you can find your Jeep Wrangler’s spring between the frame and the wheels. It is part of its suspension system and responsible for maintaining your car’s set height and allowing movement.
Replacing the spring with a shorter one is among the easiest and safest way to lower your vehicle. After all, Jeep Wranglers last long, so you’re probably deciding to modify an old model anyway, which would require part replacements.
You can do either of the following:
- Buy a New Spring With a Shorter Length – The best thing is that you can easily find a lot of aftermarket springs compatible with your Wrangler’s suspension system in several auto-part shops or suppliers. That is both online and physical retail stores.
- Adjust the Spring Length – If you prefer not to spend on a new spring or the original spring hasn’t worn down yet, you can adjust its size. There are several ways to do it, depending on the type of spring your Wrangler has.
Older models usually have leaf springs, and to shorten the length, you can remove the springs and bring them to an auto-shop for de-arching.
You can also reverse the setup by installing a flip kit that will move the axle from under the spring to the top. You can do this on your own or let someone with the right tools and skills do it for you.
An auto-mechanic must also install a lowering block after installing a flip kit. This is the recommended option if you want to lower your Wrangler to the lowest allowable height.
However, you might also need to purchase a C-notch that the mechanic will place above your car’s rear axle. It will help ensure sufficient clearance between the axle and frame. That said, there are flip kits that already come with a C-notch, such as the Belltech 6850 Flip Kit (view on Amazon).
If your Wrangler has a coil spring instead of a leaf spring, you can adjust the spring length by removing the coil spring. Next, you can either have the coil springs shortened and softened by an expert in a trusted coil spring shop or auto-shop or precisely cut the springs in equal lengths using a cutting wheel, torch, hack saw, or grinder.
Keep in mind that if you have unequal lengths, your car will not be level, causing uneven and unstable rides. You can start by cutting the coil springs into half and then into smaller increments, depending on the length your Wrangler requires.
Although this is a more practical option, the DIY cutting process can weaken or damage the coil springs. That is most especially if you’re not skilled enough to handle the tools and perform DIY mechanical tasks.
2. Adjust or Change the Track Bar and Control Arm
Coil spring suspension systems rely on track bars to keep the Wrangler’s axles from moving from side to side. Some units have non-adjustable track bars, while others come with an adjustable one.
If your car has an adjustable track bar, carefully adjust each to a lower, acceptable height using a small wrench. On the contrary, if you have non-adjustable ones, you need to have them replaced with shorter ones. You also need to change your unit’s control arms. Of course, this is best combined with coil spring replacement or length adjustment.
3. Install a Lowering Kit
If you don’t want to go through the troubles of adjusting the coil spring and then the track bar, you can purchase a Jeep Wrangler Lowering Kit. It is easy to find one since there are already several brands offering these kits. Just remember that each kit will have different components. As such, make sure you choose one that has everything you need to lower your Wrangler safely and correctly.
Still, you won’t have to worry about miscalculations and part incompatibilities. These kits contain a mixture of or all (sometimes more) of the following car parts:
- Springs (leaf or coil)
- Stabilizing bars
The kits will also come with instructions, while others will have a manufacturer warranty for your peace of mind. Another great thing about Jeep Wrangler Lowering Kits is you can either install it on your own or have a professional do it for you.
If you plan to go this route, the Belltech 614 Lowering Kit (view on Amazon) is an all-in-one product that is worth considering. It also contains all the necessary alignment and installation materials you would need for the job. Even better, you can choose between a Nitro Drop or Street Performance kit, depending on the type of shock your car needs.
4. Install an Air Suspension System
Did you know that you don’t really need to have your Jeep Wrangler lowered permanently? That is all thanks to an airbag suspension system!
By installing one, you can adjust your Wrangler’s ride height to match your specific needs. Lower it when driving on smooth surfaces, or lift it when driving on difficult terrains or carrying heavy cargo.
- Coil Springs – With this method, you would need to remove your car’s coil springs and shocks and then replace them with an airbag unit. You would also need to install an air compressor, air lines, an air reservoir tank, and an activation switch. That said, this can be a DIY project, and you won’t need special tools and equipment.
- Leaf Springs – If your Jeep Wrangler has leaf springs instead of coil springs, you need to let a professional fabricator do the job. That is to replace the leaf springs with a four-link system.
5. Install a Hydraulics System
Like with an air suspension system, installing a hydraulic system allows you to adjust your Wrangler’s ride height accordingly. The difference is that this uses a fluid pressure system rather than air. Plus, this is far more expensive than an air suspension system; in fact, even maintenance would cost you a few bucks.
For this option, you can replace the coils on one, some, or all of your car’s suspension corners with a hydraulic cylinder. You would also need to install hydraulic pumps, an internal control system, and batteries for the pumps to function.
With such a setup, this system will work faster than an air suspension system. However, expect that it will consume a huge amount of battery power.
The best way to have a properly lowered Wrangler without any hassles and exerting a lot of effort and time is to have it custom-lowered by a professional. Of course, the convenience comes with a price, which is a higher budget.
You also have to choose wisely since not all mechanics and shops have the right training and enough experience to have your Jeep custom-lowered. There are specialty shops for this, so make sure you research well if there’s one in your area.
Having a Lowered Jeep Wrangler
As similar to any other car models, you can definitely lower your Wrangler’s ride height. It will, however, negatively affect its suspension alignment and geometry when done wrongly. It can also put unwanted strain on the Wrangler’s parts due to excessive drivetrain angles. So, make sure you measure and follow the steps properly and only lower the ride height to the acceptable limit.
Although there are several ways to have your Jeep Wrangler lowered on your own, having a professional adjust or replace parts of your vehicle is always the safest choice. If you have the right skills and enough experience with car DIY-ing, though, no one is stopping you from doing so! After successfully lowering your Jeep Wrangler, you might also need to purchase smaller rims (view on Amazon) and tires to match the new ride height.