Lifting a YJ more than 3" with the springs under the axle has always been a compromise of a good ride for good ground clearance. I researched spring-under lift kits for quite a long time and flipped back and forth between that and spring-over. I wanted to go big, so I was looking at no less than 4 inches, but I also wanted something that wasn’t as stiff as a board. So, I was looking for good lift and good flex without the headaches of a spring-over.
Eventually, I came across the Rubicon Express Extreme Duty 4.5” kit. This suspension caught my attention. While researching this lift I couldn’t find much more than rumors. That was until I came across someone who had it installed and heard it from the horse's mouth, so to speak. This kit came complete, was said to maintain a good ride, and be pretty flexible for 4” arched springs.
I went to my local Jeep dealer that sponsors Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance, a club I am in, to order the kit since they are able to get parts through Rubicon Express. Even though I had heard people say that RE was backordered and waiting for parts, the kit arrived in a timely manner and I planned the installation with some friends.
Now this write-up is not being written to give you a set of instructions on how to install this lift. The purpose for this write-up is to give people an unbiased look into this particular lift. When I was researching for the lift I wanted, most of the magazines out there didn’t give the information I was looking for in any of the lift write-ups they did. Most, if not all, were just reiterations of the instructions that came with the lift, without numbers or good pictures to show the lift characteristics. So I hope if you are looking at installing this lift I can give you the insight that you need to make your choice.
The kit came with all necessary parts to make this suspension work great. Included were, 4” lift springs, 4 shocks, heavy duty shackles (front+rear), polyurethane bushings with grease zerks, polyurethane main eye bushings with grease zerks, transfer case lowering pucks, extended stainless steel brake lines (front+rear), 2.5 degree shims, drop Pitman arm, track-bar relocation bracket, and new axle u-bolts (front+rear). The only other recommended part was a slip yoke eliminator kit, which I have on order along with a longer rear drive shaft. (See our recent installation article on Tom Wood's Short Shaft Kit here).
No big problems were encountered and all was done in about 6-7 hours including breaks in there for food and drinks. Amazingly, we didn’t have to cut any old bolts off - they all came off with the impact wrench and some elbow grease. This was sort of a surprise since I live in southeast Pennsylvania where salt is put on the roads as soon as it starts to flurry.
We started on the front like the instructions said to do and had that done with no major problems. There was one small issue with one of the brake lines not wanting to come undone so it had to be cut slightly to remove it. We removed the other side with no problem so we have at least one line to carry as a spare. Once the front was done we took a break and had some lunch.
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