There’s a reason so many off-road enthusiasts love Jeeps. These simple, rugged vehicles are designed to take just about anything that rough terrain can throw at them. Unfortunately, they’re not designed to provide a smooth ride.
Jeeps sit far off the ground and have rigid shock absorber assemblies designed to withstand heavy impacts, not to keep riders comfortable. Even small bumps on the road can create large jolts for riders in the cabin. Those who love their Jeeps but want a smoother ride are in luck, though. They can read on to find out how to improve their vehicles’ suspension kits by following just five simple steps.
Step One: Install a Leveling Kit
Leveling kits are designed to raise the Jeep’s body away from its axles, allowing drivers to install larger tires and add clearance for better off-road performance. By installing a carli leveling kit, drivers can improve their factory shock dampers and coil springs with high-performance shocks and springs. While off-road shocks tend to be stiffer than road-friendly options, they’re the best bet for getting a smoother ride without sacrificing off-road capability.
Drivers who just like the way their Jeeps look and don’t plan to take them off-road can skip the leveling kit. Instead, they can install lower high-performance shocks and springs. Just keep in mind that this will lower the vehicle’s clearance and decrease its off-road capabilities. It’s rare for drivers to purchase Jeeps just for show, so most consumers won’t fall into this category and should instead ensure that they have plenty of clearance.
Step Two: Replace the Tires
Off-road enthusiasts who opt to install leveling kits can now switch to larger tires designed for better traction. Look for tires that have thick, deep tread patterns. It will reduce the jolts and bumps that drivers and passengers feel when driving either on the road or on the trails.
Most tire manufacturers make specialty all-terrain tires just for drivers who love taking their Jeeps off the beaten path. Just keep in mind that taking any vehicle off-road can wear down tire tread more quickly. Change the tires as needed to ensure that they have sufficient traction and are able to provide a smooth, comfortable ride on any type of terrain.
City drivers and commuters who drive Jeeps for show don’t need larger tires. Instead, they should replace their off-road tires with shorter commuter tires designed to generate less friction on highways and other paved roads. This will also lower the vehicle’s height, though, which can be a serious problem for off-road enthusiasts.
Step Three: Install a Camber Kit
Raising or lowering a vehicle places the wheels at a different angle in relation to the road’s surface. Installing a camber kit will straighten the tires. This will not only reduce the impact of road imperfections but will also help to reduce stress on the Jeep. If drivers lift or lower their vehicles but don’t install camber kits, the left and right sides of their vehicles will be left working against each other, which can cause premature wear.
Off-road enthusiasts should also consider an adjustable trackbar upgrade. Installing an adjustable trackbar and a swaybar will offer smoother steering over rough terrain and help to keep the Jeep’s front end tight, reducing wear. Some leveling kits come with optional trackbars and swaybars to make it easier for drivers to do this work themselves.
Step Four: Have the Wheels Aligned
After upgrading the suspension system and tires and installing a camber kit, trackbar, or swaybar, it’s time to head to a tire shop. Many Jeep enthusiasts are mechanically inclined enough to install new components on their own vehicles, provided they have all the right tools and equipment. Few have access to the specialized equipment required to perform accurate wheel alignments.
The purpose of a wheel alignment is to get the Jeep’s axles and wheels squared up so they are moving in the exact same direction. A mechanic at a tire shop will adjust the toe, thrust, camber, and caster with the help of an alignment machine that ensures precise measurements of these suspension angles. Keep in mind that since Jeeps and other off-road vehicles feature four-wheel drive, they’ll require four-wheel alignments.
Perfectly aligned wheels don’t just put less wear on the Jeep’s tires. They also provide a smoother ride. As the angles of the wheels stray further from perfect alignment, the ride will get bumpier. When drivers notice this happening, they can just return to the tire shop for another realignment.
Step Five: Add Weight and Learn how to Shift Smoothly
Jeeps are designed for rugged off-road driving, so they come with high-torque engines that tend to jump into each gear aggressively. This can make for a choppy ride. Drivers who are bothered by it just need to get a feel for their vehicles so they can learn how to shift smoother. Shifting at lower speeds can help to reduce choppiness.
Those who don’t plan to do any serious off-roading can also add weight to their vehicles to make the ride smoother. Instead of lightweight doors and canvas roofs, Jeeps can be customized with hardtop roofs and full-steel doors. Keep in mind that the extra weight will make for a smoother ride, but it may also affect off-road performance. Drivers who want the best of both worlds are better off keeping the factory standard doors and roofs and adding weight as needed.
The Bottom Line
Deciding what upgrades to make to a Jeep to improve comfort and reduce bumpiness requires evaluating its primary uses. Drivers who love the way Jeeps look but think of them as fashionable commuter cars can get a smoother ride if they lower their vehicles, install commuter tires, and replace lightweight parts with heavier doors and tops, but that would spell disaster for a true off-road enthusiast. Off-road adventurers should balance the desire for comfort against the need for adequate clearance, traction, and low vehicle weight. With leveling kits, camber kits, frequent wheel alignments, and careful attention to shifting, they can have the best of both worlds.