If you’ve ever looked under your Jeep Wrangler, you’ve likely noticed that Wranglers have a full set of suspension parts. When working properly, these parts allow you to achieve legendary off-road driving while still experiencing a comfortable journey down the road. Here, we’ll look at the components of a Jeep Wrangler’s suspension to get a better idea of how this system affects your ride.
What is a Suspension? Your Jeep Wrangler’s suspension is actually part of its chassis, which is comprised of all the important systems underneath the body of the vehicle. These systems include the frame, the suspension system, the steering system and the tires and wheels. Keeping this bigger picture in mind, there are three fundamental parts to the suspension system: anti-sway bars, dampers and springs. The goal of the suspension system is to support both ride quality and handling, which are constantly battling each other. Tuning a suspension involves finding the perfect balance between the two.
Both coil springs and leaf springs are designed to absorb vertical impacts such as when the vehicle travels over a hole or a bump. The car absorbs the force of the impact and distributes it throughout the spring. The shock, or damper, helps to tame down the energy absorption. In other words, if the Wrangler was only equipped with springs, it would continually bounce up and down following impact, and it would continue this motion until the energy in the spring dispersed. The shock harnesses some of that energy so that the bouncing up and down movement is significantly reduced.
A sway bar connects the right and left wheels to each other, both in the back and the front, to reduce body roll when you turn the vehicle. Essentially, as you turn to the right, for eample, the car will lean to the left, putting more weight on the left side and compressing the left suspension. In turn, the right side lightens, and if you make a hard turn, your right wheel will lift off of the road. The sway bar is designed to keep that wheel down and reduce the shifting of the Wrangler’s weight by distributing the energy of the pressure.
Signs Your Wrangler Needs Suspension Repair Your Jeep’s suspension system is something you may take for granted, particularly if you enjoy off-roading and pushing your Wrangler to the max. However, after supporting several tons of metal for several years, driving over rough terrain and climbing large obstacles, your shocks will eventually wear out. When this happens, a suspension repair is necessary.
Although some people believe the suspension is most important for a smooth, comfortable ride and that repairs aren’t as important as changing brakes or oil, driving on a bad suspension can significantly impact your ability to control the car, especially when you turn or stop. Here are several things to watch for that may indicate the need for a suspension repair.
1. Oily or damaged shocks. Look under the vehicle and locate the struts or shocks. If they look oily or greasy, there’s a good chance they are leaking fluid and aren’t working as they should.
2. Uneven tire treads. If you notice balding spots or uneven tire tread, this is one sign that your suspension isn’t holding the vehicle evenly. As a result, your tires suffer uneven amounts of pressure since only one area of the tire is making contact with the ground.
3. Nose dives or dips when you stop. If the shocks in your Jeep are worn out, you’ll probably feel the vehicle lurch forward and downward when you firmly apply the brakes. This can drastically affect your ability to quickly stop the car. In fact, a bad suspension may increase your stop time by as much as 20 percent.
4. Pulling or drifting when turning. If your Jeep has a bad suspension system, the shocks can’t keep the vehicle body stable against the turn’s centrifugal force, and when this happens, you are more likely to experience a rollover.
5. A rough ride. Most people can tell when their Wrangler’s struts or shocks are wearing out when every bump causes the car to bounce or when they start to feel every single bump in the road.
How to Choose a Lift Kit Once you understand the basics of the suspension, you may consider lifting your Jeep Wrangler to better tackle the demands of off-road driving. For most people, their Jeep is a combination of a camping vehicle, off-road toy, daily driver and a tow truck. If you’re searching for a lift kit to use in all of these ways, the key is to find one that has the proper balance between off-road suspension flexibility and on-road drivability. Keep in mind, though, that the suspension is only one part of the picture; you must also consider the Wrangler’s drivetrain, tires and wheels. Here’s how to choose a lift kit that allows these three systems to work together and provide the best possible traction regardless of where or how you drive.
First, ask yourself what you’re willing to spend on the lift, what tire type and size would you like to use and how you will be using your Jeep. Then, think about how much you want to raise your jeep. For instance, smaller lifts with 31” tires are inexpensive, easy to install and rarely lead to mechanical issues. On the other hand, medium lifts with tires between 32” and 34” offer amazing clearance at a reasonable price, your off-roading capability is noticeably greater and your Jeep will ultimately look better. Finally, bigger lifts with 35” tires are most expensive and may come with complications since some lifts re-design the entire front-end of the vehicle.
Conclusion With 4x4 capabilities, height advantages over most cars and the ability to take on rugged, rough or hazardous terrain, these cars are perfect for the adventurous, outdoorsy driver. However, that fun can be cut short quickly should the suspension fail as you’re off-roading in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on the way the car handles and take note of anything unusual that could indicate a problem with the suspension.