Buying a Jeep doesn’t always mean it’s off-road ready-to-go. In fact, most OEM or factory Jeep Wranglers, Cherokees or Liberty’s are designed with tires, suspension and undercarriage components that are made for the street primarily – and not for aggressive off-road conditions. Due to this reality, it’s important to make sure your Jeep is properly prepped for safety, maximum efficiency and comfort while navigating trails or anywhere the road ends.
Listed below are three must-have accessory upgrades that all Jeep owners should have before attempting aggressive off-road driving.
First – Start with Jeep Wheels & Tires
While a Jeep usually rides higher than most SUV’s, they are not always equipped with tire and wheel packages that can handle off-road conditions. One of the biggest mistakes new Jeep owners assume is that upgrades like the Rubicon have off-road tires and wheels, when in fact, they simply have off-road appearing tire packages. Sure, the tread might seem aggressive, but the factory tire is likely a P-rated, four-ply which will puncture easily when rubbing against rocks.
So, before you take any Jeep off-road, make sure you can check these requirements off your tire and wheel package checklist:
- Make sure tires are All-Terrain.
- Tires should be Light Truck, six-ply rated
- Tires should have an aggressive tire pattern with open chambers to clear mud easily
- Sipes are also critical for clearing snow, mud and even loose sand. They also help you drive on icy roads
- Wheels should be designed for off-road
- Bead Locks are a smart investment for climbing
Second – Make Smart Jeep Suspension Upgrades
While bigger and stronger tires and wheels will improve road clearance, they pale in comparison to having a raised suspension. However, there is a difference between having a Monster Jeep and making smart improvements to suspension. The key is to ensure you have enough clearance to make sure you don’t impale your oil pan or other undercarriage components with debris – like a huge rock. Generally, a one to four in suspension lift kit is recommended for general off-road performance. Anything higher than that should be carefully considered, as it will impact stability. Anytime you consider raising your Jeep, make sure to follow these important steps:
- Only buy a FULL SUSPENSION LIFT KIT. Don’t attempt to buy individual pieces as you’ll have compatibility issues likely.
- Make sure to follow the aftermarket manufacturers recommended steps for install.
- Always verify that the suspension kit you buy is designed for your specific year, make and model of Jeep.
- Always take your Jeep to a professional alignment shop to have the suspension adjusted before driving more than 30 miles.
- Make sure to add an upgraded track bar. This will reduce the potential of “death wobble” and keep the suspension solid.
Third – Protect the Undercarriage
The sound of a huge boulder hitting an oil pan or transfer case is literally worse than having teeth drilled. Not only can this cause considerable damage, but a carefully placed rock can render your Jeep dead and incredibly difficult to limp back home. If you’re thinking about doing serious off-roading, you need to protect the undercarriage of your Jeep with skid plates.
Although it’s understood that a new Jeep should be upgraded before taking it off-road, it’s also important to verify that a used Jeep with “upgrades” is in good shape before attempting off-road trips. The cost of installing new wheels and tires, a new suspension lift kit and skid plates is much less than the cost of trying to have your broken-down Jeep towed back home or destroyed.
If total cost, value and high-quality is important to you, make sure to purchase your next set of Jeep wheels from ShopJeepParts.com. When you shop Jeep parts online at ShopJeepParts.com, you can be confident that you will receive the highest quality aftermarket parts & accessories at wholesale prices, plus all parts we sell come with a minimum one-year full warranty.