Grand or Grander
I recently purchased a nice one-owner ’98 Jeep Grand Cherokee, all stock with 68,000 miles. The Jeep thing is new to me, always having had trucks with suspension lifts. Now that I’m getting older I’m not wanting to do a 4- or 6-inch suspension lift on my Jeep, but rather a 2-inch lift with 30- or maybe 31-inch tires. I’ve been looking at some coil spacer kits. That looks like what I need. Can I put a 2-inch coil spacer kit on my Jeep without having to change my shocks? The shocks were just put on when I purchased it, and I assume they are stock-height shocks. Half the people I’ve asked say yes, I can. The other half say I can’t. I would appreciate your help in solving this matter. You always seem to have the correct answers in your tech articles.
The simple answer is you don’t need new shocks if you don’t take the Jeep off-road. But the ’98 Grand is such a great 4x4 that I would think you would love taking it off-road. And if you start four-wheeling it and maxing out the suspension, you’ll quickly find that the stock shocks are limiting your travel and reducing your performance. Get the spacers installed, and if you want more performance then upgrade the shocks down the road, after you get some more miles and it loses that new-car smell.
What Up Front?
I have an ’04 Chevy Colorado and want to replace the IFS with a solid axle and replace the rear axle with a stronger one. I’m new to building 4x4s and still learning all the good and bad parts to use and ways to build one. I have always heard that the Dana axles are great, but some of the people from the forum that I’m a part of have said to use a Corporate 10- or 14-bolt. I’m not sure what to use, and they have used several different ones. My goal is to get my truck to where I can use it on- and off-road as well as for rockcrawling. Any feedback would be great.
I am surprised that we are not seeing more of the Chevy Colorados built like you describe. For your truck I would recommend a Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear for up to 37/38-inch tires. If you are going larger than that, I’d lean toward a Dana 60 front and either a Dana 70 or Corporate 14-bolt rear. The Corporate 14-bolt and Dana 44 front are very similar in size and strength, but I feel the Dana has more options for aftermarket support.
As for suspension, I’d keep the rear leaf springs and build or have built a custom coil/link front suspension. This work can be done at home, but I recommend working with a qualified fabrication shop if this is your first project vehicle, as getting the suspension geometry correct is important for a safe on- and off-road vehicle.
Play Then Pack
I have a ’76 F-250 with a Dana 60 front axle. I have replaced the front wheel bearings two times already. The original bearings where shot, so I replaced bearings, races, and seals. Then three months later I had a bearing go out. This time I changed the axle seals, spindle bushings, wheel bearings, wheel seals, and all related parts. I recently pulled it apart to inspect, and I’m still getting water and crud into the bearings. These bearings are a month old and already need a repack at minimum. I’m getting a nasty rust-colored grease and water coming out. Where’s it coming from? I replaced all the seals last time and spent a decent chunk of change, and I don’t want to have to do this so often.
If you are playing in mud and water then you need to regularly clean and repack bearings. The seals may be new, but the spindle seal surface may be pitted or rusty, the axleshaft may be allowing water in behind the spindle, or the locking hubs may not be sealing up as well as they used to. If this is a closed-knuckle Dana axle there could be water getting in past the knuckle balls or axle vent, but I assume it is open-knuckle. The fact is mud that covers your axle hub for any length of time can find its way in. I know many frequent wheelers of the wet stuff who repack their bearings after a long weekend in the slop and replace them yearly.
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