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We got a 3-inch lift kit and new tires for our 2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
We ordered everything from the 4WheelParts store in Nashville …which took a long time. The lift kit was setting in our foyer for weeks before the wheels arrived at the Nashville store. Then the tires took even longer for some reason.
That said, it was the best thing we ever did for the Jeep!
Here’s the scoop.
But first, some before (top row) & after (bottom row) shots:
The stock tires we had on the Jeep (with 47,000 miles on ’em) were shot!
Plus, the alignment was way off, and any time you drove over 50 miles per hour, the entire Jeep shook violently.
It just wasn’t safe.
So thank goodness, we *had* to get new tires when we ordered the new lift kit.
What We Got:
- 3-Inch Pro-Comp Lift Kit — I talked about it here
- Matte Black Wheels — We wanted these wheels — but they were sold out, so we got these wheels — 6 openings instead of 5 (The technical stuff: PXA 7189-6865 16×8 5×4.5 4.5″ BS)
We don’t love the wheels, but they’re fine.
We took the Jeep in at 9 in the morning, and they had everything done by 6 that evening.
Things I Learned After The Fact
#1 – The Odometer
Yes, I knew the mileage would be affected by larger tires. But I thought that just meant “you’ll get worse mileage.” Period. I can live with that. It’s a price we were willing to pay for something FUN.
Well, actually, there’s more to it than that. The larger circumference of the tires means that your Jeep’s odometer no longer records distances traveled properly.
In our Jeep, with the new tires, it appears that distances measured on the odometer are about a 10th of a mile off. Not so bad, but it adds up. So you can’t really rely on your tripometer to measure the distance between Point A to Point B anymore.
But also (and here’s the worst part, if you ask me)… your speedometer no longer measures your speed accurately. Turns out, ours is off by about 6 mph. So that means when the speed limit is 55 mph, I have to remember to keep it around 50 mph in the Jeep.
Jim says there’s a way to *legally* change the way your odometer reads. I’d love to get that done. (Too much math for me on a daily basis!)
Now, onto the superficial things that don’t really matter much at all…
#2 – The Garage
Your garage must be able to accommodate your new lift and new tires. Seriously. I never thought about this. So when we pulled into the garage after getting the new gear, we were surprised to see that the roof of the Jeep nearly scrapes the top of the garage door opening. (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is close.)
Plus, the drop-down cord that you can pull if you want to open your garage door manually dangles into the Jeep’s open soft top (when I park in the middle of the garage, like when Jim’s out of town). I’m thinking that could possibly get caught up during the garage door-opening or closing phase — especially since it’s got a long T-shaped handle on the end of it.
Another minor garage technicality… the taller and wider tires mean less space between your cars while parked in the garage. (Or between the Jeep and the inside wall of the garage.)
#3 – Getting In & Out
No, we didn’t add any additional steps or ledges, but I might be interested in adding a grab-bar soon. Not exactly sure yet. It’s definitely awkward for a girl to get in this Jeep now — and I’m tall (5’9″).
In an attempt to fine-tune the ease with which I enter and exit the Jeep with its new lift kit and wheels, I’ve tried a number of different scenarios, like:
- Starting with my right foot on the stock step that’s affixed underneath the door
- Then, starting with my left foot on that same step.
- Then, just trying to scoot in butt-first somehow.
- Oh, and of course most of these attempts involved grabbing the steering wheel and dragging my body into the vehicle.
All are rather hilarious to watch (I should charge admission!). Once, I lost a sandal in the process, so I had to get out, retrieve the shoe, and then get back in again. That one was at a gas station… and it was crowded, so doing 2 entrances at once was not fun.
I haven’t quite perfected the process quite yet, but there is one thing that I do each and every time: make sure no one’s watching me first! Then, I just quickly attempt to jump in somehow, someway. It’s getting easier, but I don’t exactly have a system that works the same way each time yet.
#4 – The Ride
I love the higher ride. Sitting higher up than most drivers is really cool — mostly because you can see way ahead in the distance, plus on all sides. (Our stock Jeep was always higher than most vehicles anyway, but now it’s usually the tallest one out there — just barely though.)
For me, the safety and security factor is also noticeable. I mean, those chunky tires feel like they mean business underneath you. I love that.
As far as road noise, we don’t really notice any difference. (Whew!)
The guy at 4WheelParts said that since our Jeep is an Unlimited, we might need an additional part that lowers the transfer case. He couldn’t be sure until we got it up to highway speeds. Turns out, we didn’t need the part. But supposedly, if you hear a humming/whirring noise at high speeds, then you probably this $30 part.
So there you go… 2 thumbs up for the new Jeep lift kit and tires!
And to think… we haven’t even taken the Jeep offroad since we added this new set-up! Can’t wait, that’s for sure.
We did get a “Lights Out” adapter for the Jeep doors that turns off the interior dome light whenever you take the doors off your Jeep.
Now, we’re ready to start ridin’ dirty!
Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have owned 5 Jeeps (3 Wranglers and 2 Grand Cherokees). And when we’re not driving our own Jeep, we’re usually renting one (a 4×4 Wrangler on vacation). We keep a Jeep Bucket List of places that we’d like to go next, and we're always crossing more states off our list of 'Places That We’ve Jeeped in the USA'. As our daily driver, we keep the soft top on our Jeep Wrangler year round (and the back window permanently rolled up) so the dogs can enjoy the ride. Yep… even in the winter! I've been sharing my best Jeep ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998. When I’m not Jeeping or writing about Jeeps, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).