JL Wrangler Lift Kit Buying Guide

JL Wrangler Lift Kit Buying Guide

Last Updated February 5, 2020 | Sam Padgett

A lift kit is one of the most impactful upgrades available for your JL Wrangler. A lifted Wrangler is what comes to many people’s minds when they think of an ultra-capable off-roading rig, and adding a couple of inches to your JL Wrangler will help dominate some trails.

There are several ways to lift your JL Wrangler, and not all of them are equal. This guide is going to help you decide which type of lift to consider for your Jeep and what to keep in mind during the lift kit shopping process.

Options for JL Lift Kits

First off, let’s take a look at the main different types of lift kits available for your JL Wrangler. There are a variety of options across a large swathe of prices, so your budget is an important thing to consider right off the bat.

If you are lifting your JL with the intention of giving it a serious performance boost, then you could be spending around a thousand dollars or so, and investing a good chunk of time into the installation as well. If you just want to raise your JL a few inches to give it a better look, then you can achieve your goals with a handful of hours and a few hundred dollars. It all depends on what direction you want to take your JL.

JL Lift Kits on a Budget

First off, the cheapest and easiest lifts for your JL Wrangler are what are broadly known as body lifts. These types of lift kits are generally comprised of front and rear coil spacers, and potentially other pieces like bump stop extenders, that lift the body of the JL farther up from the frame.

Certain types of body lifts with minimal parts are called economy or budget lifts, and these generally consist of the front and rear coil spacers. If your main goal is just making your JL Wrangler look tall while spending as little money as possible, then this is your option.

Wrangler Suspension Spacer

Body lifts don’t really offer too much in terms of performance benefits. While certain body lifts can help you run larger wheels and tires, their amount of travel will remain restricted.

One thing to be wary of is that a lift kit and a leveling kit are different things entirely. Though some types of lift kits (particularly body and budget lifts) are very similar to leveling kits, they don’t serve the same functions. Leveling kits are much more focused on improving your Wrangler’s looks, adding uneven amounts of lift to the front and the rear of the Wrangler to make it appear entirely level. If you have any major mods or upgrades on your JL that upset its weight balance (like an oversized rear spare tire for example), then a leveling kit will eliminate its sag and give it a better look.

Coil Spring Lift Kits for the JL Wrangler

If you aren’t looking to break the bank, but you still care about your JL Wrangler’s performance, then a coil spring lift is a great way to lift your JL Wrangler. These lift kits can contain some of the elements of a body lift, but they also contain larger springs and shocks that allow for more wheel travel.

There are two types of springs that you can find on suspensions systems: Progressive springs and linear rate springs. Quickly put, linear rate springs are what come stock on a JL Wrangler and are generally the most comfortable on pavement. Progressive rate springs are more expensive, and while they offer better traction, they can be rough on the pavement. Progressive rate springs are the more expensive option of the two and should only really be considered if off-roading is your JL’s main duty.

Red JL Wrangler With Aftermarket Wheels

Coil spring lifts are a great way to lift your JL Wrangler, but there are limits to their effectiveness. There is a soft limit to how much a coil spring lift alone can raise your JL Wrangler, typically around 3 inches. Once you begin to raise your Wrangler off the ground, the ride quality will deteriorate regardless of the spring and shock quality. This is where custom control arms come into play.

Short and Long Arm Lift Kits

Long and short arm lift kits are the heavy-duty performance options. Both of these are essentially coil spring lift kits that come bundled with a customized control arm. As you might imagine, the length of this control arm determines if a specific lift kit is a long or a short arm.

There are some rather important differences between long and short arm lift kits that go beyond the length of the control arms.

If you really want a lift kit that excels with rock crawling and other complicated and low-speed off-roading scenarios, then a short lift kit is your go-to option. If you plan on doing more high speed off-roading and continuing to use your lifted JL Wrangler as a daily driver, then a long arm kit would fit your needs better.

Long and short arm lift kits are also by far the most expensive and difficult lift kits to install. If you want to know what it takes to install one of these lift kits on your JL Wrangler, then watch this video tutorial from CJ Off-Road’s YouTube team.

Odds and Ends for Lifted JLs

There are several ways to go about lifting your JL Wrangler. Remember, there’s a reason they are called lift “kits." There are a variety of pieces bundled in each of these kits, and that’s because there are plenty of potentially upgradeable parts of your Wrangler’s suspension. Here are some of the additional parts that are sometimes bundled with a lift kit, sometimes bought individually, that you should be aware of.

First off, a steering stabilizer is a great addition to consider that can help keep your lifted JL Wrangler easy to control. As the inches get added and the JL gets more lifted, the factory alignment can be thrown out of whack, and your handling can take a serious nosedive. In order to compensate for some of the changes to your Wrangler’s handling, a steering stabilizer can help you keep your JL under control.

Wrangler with Suspension Lift

If you're worried about your shocks getting dinged up by errant debris, then you should consider putting a shock boot on your shocks. While they look like the flexible part of bendy straws, shock boots can help keep your shocks clean. Beyond that even, they come in a wide variety of colors, so they can add a little flair to your JL and really accentuate its upgraded suspensions system.

Finally, if you gave your JL a big lift to take it off-road, then don’t forget to protect its undercarriage. The added lift makes the delicate parts placed underneath your JL more prone to injury, so a skid plate or rock rails are a great way to bolster your Wrangler’s defenses.

There’s more than one way to lift a JL Wrangler, and this guide should help you get started. Once your Jeep finishes its growth spurt, be sure to check out some larger wheels and tires, and a few engine upgrades to get those wheels rolling like they never have before.

JL Wrangler Lift Kit Buying Guide

If you're looking to lift your JL Wrangler and are overwhelmed with the number of options, then this guide is for you.