Need some advice/reality Check

#1
Ok, after 18 year gap without a Jeep, I am now the proud owner of a Jeep TJ.
00 TJ, with 4.0 1-6 with 5-speed manual. Sport edition. Stock.

Needless to say, I want to start building out my rig and would love to throw $$$ at it and upgrade it to the hilt. Given I have 1 kid in college, 1 starting next year, and 2 more to come I still want to be prudent (and stay married :))

Ideally, I would like to lift her and do it right so, I'm looking at the 3.5 short arm MC lift with 35s.

Unfortunately, I am running into a multitude of opinions on what MUST be vs. what needs to be upgraded at the onset when I put in the lift. So, I'm reaching out to see what would be the recommended upgrade path in order of priority.

SYE with new DC Driveshaft
Regear (4.88)my Dana 30 with chromoly axles.
Rip out my Dana 35 and replace with a D44 or Ford 8.8 (with 4.88 gears)
Upgraded steering
Brakes
Tummy tuck?

Please help a n00b
 

JeepnDel

Administrator
Staff member
#2
My 21 year old 97 TJ has been thru all of that...and those mods...a few times. Here's what one old timer told me about builds and upgrades: You can either drive it til it breaks and fix it; or slap a bunch of money into now -- and maybe still break it depending on how you drive. The key is to have a purpose for the build or mod. Why are you doing this or that? I would call the shop guys at Metalcloak and ask about your idea. Seems like a 3.5 for 35's would be nice. And not something that would start breaking things right off the bat.
If you are going to re-gear just to get lower gears (with the 35's), then you should consider beefing up the rear pumpkin. There's nothing like a good 44; well, again, my old TJ has sported a Ford 9 all these years (Currie).
But....forget all the gears and pumpkins; are you thinking you will want an Atlas twin stick t-case some day? Maybe start there. Drive it till it breaks.
Just thinking out loud here..
 
#3
I agree with Del about thinking what you want from the build, and the kind of trails you want to run.
Rocks, dirt trails/roads, mud?
Each needs a different build in my opinion.
I have the short arm kit from MC, and love it. Running 35" tires also.
I have done a tummy tuck and installed a Currie F9 in the rear end.
We installed an Atlas after we broke our stock transfer case.
I am running the stock D30 up front with stock axles and not had any issues. I am pretty easy on the gas and let the low gears help the Jeep just crawl along in the rocks.
We are running 4.56 gears to give us some highway speed, and they allow us to slow down pretty good on the trail with the 4.0 Atlas.
You should be able to find a D44 from someone that upgraded their axle from their TJ so you don't have to be cutting and welding brackets on and worry about angles and all that.
I have also upgraded the steering components and went with the Currie correct link system. I have bashed it on the rocks and it stays straight.
As far as brakes go, I have disk brakes that came on the F9 that I ordered from Currie. We have upgraded pads and rotors up front, but they are still stock size.
Find folks with a built TJ, and ask them what they did right, and what they would do different.

Good luck, and welcome to the MJ family.

Todd
 

TJDon

Wrench guy
#4
Welcome back to the Jeep world nOOb!
Like Todd asked, what type of off-roading do you plan on mostly doing? Obviously, a good quality lift such as Metalcloak is a great start. I wish I had a Metalcloak lift, I hope to one day. I have riden and driven a lot of MC lifted TJ’s and hands down the Jeeps ride is great and flex very well!
I recently swapped out my 30-35 for 44’s and got extremely lucky finding the 44’s. 44’s have become the unicorn’s of finding affordable diffs for TJ’s. Of course they are available new, just depends on how deep your pockets are. I installed 4.88 gears and I also run 35” BFG’s and a stock 231 T-case. I kind of wish I had gone 4.56 gears being my highway RPM is pretty high now. But for crawling slower it’s pretty good.
Steering upgrade from the spindly stock linkage is a good idea to upgrade sooner than later.
And also consider recovery stuff. A winch and bumper to handle it. And if you’re running 35’s, a good rear bumper with tire swing out mount will be a must. The tailgate will thank you lol
 
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