Home : Product Reviews : Steering & Suspension : Fabtech’s Jeep YJ Suspension System

Fabtech’s Jeep YJ Suspension System

Fabtech Jeep YJ Lift Kit

I got a call from one of my buddies the other day. His statement was simple enough, “I need a lift kit for my rig… desperately”. I started with my standard array questions of “are you trying to clear larger tires, and if so, how big?…” but before I could finish he cut me off mid sentence. “It’s already lifted, it just rides like a brick!”

 

We set out to examine why his rig ran like the axles were welded directly to the frame rails (really, this thing was a real kidney pounder) and we made some small tweaks, with no noticeable gains. We surmised that this “budget” suspension system (to be unnamed) just wouldn’t work for this daily-driver and weekend trail runner. We needed something softer and more supple.

 

Before the new lift...The next day I reached out to our friends at Fabtech Motorsports to get their help. Fast forward 3 shipping days and we began our installation of this Fabtech Jeep YJ 3.5” Performance System. The kit is comprised of heavy duty front and rear leaf spring springs that feature nylon glide pads between each leaf to reduce friction and provide a better ride. The front springs contain five leafs while rear springs are have a four-leaf pack. Both sets of springs offer a full military-style wrap for superior strength and dependability. The transfer case is relocated with a set of billet spacers that allow for the use of the stock skid plate and reduce drive shaft angles. This system also came with a drop pitman arm, extended sway bar links, track bar relocation brackets and high quality shocks.

 

 

Installation

Lifting a Jeep YJ (any leaf-sprung rig for that matter) can be performed by your average Joe in an afternoon, right in their driveway or their garage. All you’ll need are a few jack stands, a floor jack and some common hand tools. Oh yeah, you’ll need to read the directions too. However, here’s an overview of what it took to lift our Jeep YJ with Fabtech’s Jeep YJ 3.5” performance suspension system.

Front Axle Installation

Jeep YJ suspension lift by Fabtech Jeep YJ suspension lift by FabtechThe first step in installation of the Fabtech suspension system is to read the instructions a few times.With that accomplished, we set aside most of the tools we would need and secured the Jeep YJ with jackstands.

We then removed the forward leaf spring eyelet bolts and lowered the axle slightly. Next, we removed the anti-sway bar.

Jeep YJ suspension lift by FabtechFabtech suspension systemNext we removed the anti-swaybar “dog bones” from the leaf spring plate and from the anti-sway bar itself. After that, we removed both front shock absorbers by removing the lower and upper shock bolts.
Fabtech suspension systemWith the anti-sway bar, dog bones, shocks and both leaf spring eyelet bolts removed (and the axle and Jeep secure), we removed the nuts from the u-bolts that secure the leaf spring to the axle.
Fabtech Jeep YJ Suspension system installationHaving the old leaf springs and other sub-assemblies removed from our Jeep, we prepared all four of the leaf springs for installation. We applied a thin coat of assembly grease to the steel sleeves (inside and out) and to the bushings and spring wraps too. Fabtech provides high-quality polyurethan bushings so don’t get too carried away with the grease.
Fabtech Jeep YJ liftFabtech Jeep YJ liftFast forward a few steps, you can see that we’ve installed the new bump stops and the trackbar brackets (silver items in the picture). We also attached the new anti-swaybar “dog bones” and their respective polyurethane bushings. Don’t overtighten these nuts and bolts though, as you’ll need them to only be snug, otherwise you’ll limit suspension articulation and stiffen your ride too much. We then installed the new Fabtech shocks to the front of the vehicle along with their polyurethane bushings.
Fabtech lift kit Fabtech lift kitFabtech lift kitWith all of the Fabtech bracketry, shocks and leaf springs mounted to the Jeep, we went back an ensured all items were installed securely and torqued to specifications. Here you can see the new Fabtech leaf springs on the Jeep YJ. 

 Rear Axle Installation

Fabtech lift kit Fabtech lift kitFabtech lift kitOn to the rear axle. This isn’t our first Jeep lift, and we knew going into this that some bonehead would likely install the bolts backwards, thus requiring us to cut the heads of the bolts off to get the spring eyelet bolts out of the leaf springs. The only other option is to remove the exhaust system (on the passenger side), or the gas tank (on the driver side). We then removed the rear axle track bar from the Jeep, and finally we removed the leaf springs. Again, ensure that the Jeep and the axle are secured with jack stands and wheel chocks.

Fabtech lift kitWe then slung the new leaf springs into the spring hanger on the frame rail (as seen to the left) and placed a bolt through the eyelet.
Fabtech lift kit We only ran into one problem with the Fabtech suspension system… The stock spring shackes were not long enough to allow the Fabtech leaf spring to bolt into place. The military-style spring wrap was simply too large, so we had to make a set of temporary shackles for our Jeep with some 1/4″ steel plate. We’ll replace these soon enough, but I didn’t want my friend’s Jeep contaminating my shop for a week while we waited for replacements to come in the mail.

 Skid Plate Installation

Fabtech lift kit Installing the spacers on the skid plate is pretty straightforward. Using a floorjack, we carefully lowered the skidplate (and subsequently the transfer case) a few inches, thus providing enough room to slip the aluminum spacers into place. Once aligned, we installed the new, longer bolts into place and tightened accordingly. That’s it… the lift is done.

 
 

The Verdict

 
RockSplitter Shackles The Fabtech Jeep YJ 3.5” Performance Suspension System was a snap to install, except for the whole shackle problem that we ran into (see above). The installation took all of about 5 hours to complete and we only needed common hand tools to install it (yes, we cheated and used air tools). The instructions are detailed and easy to follow too – allowing even novice wrench-turners that ability to install a suspension system themselves.

The quality of the components used in the Fabtech suspension system is top-shelf, which is a big reason why we’ve always preferred Fabtech’s systems. Only the best nuts and bolts are used (grade 8, gold anodized, etc.), the leaf springs offer a full military wrap, the nylon slip pads provide easy movement between the leafs, and the poly bushings are nice too.

On the road, the Jeep ran MUCH better than before. My buddy was immediately able to ditch his kidney support belt, as the suspension was stable, yet far softer and compliant. My buddy was very happy at this point.

Fabtech Jeep YJ suspension system testingOff the beaten path – we took my friend’s Jeep to a local construction area and drove it in the dirt for a while. We found a few small ravines and tossed the Jeep into them at an angle to articulate the suspension. Immediately we gained about 2 inches of suspension travel over the previously installed “budget” suspension – and that was with the track bars and anti-sway bars still connected. The suspension was supple and compliant, yet very stable. Surprisingly so for a brand new suspension system – most take several weeks (or months) to break in and become supple.

Overall, we were very pleased with the Fabtech Jeep YJ 3.5” Performance Suspension System in nearly every situation. This is a perfect afternoon-install kit for your do-it-yourselfer.

 

Fabtech Motorsports
4331 Eucalyptus Ave.
Chino, CA 91710
Phone: 877-432-2832
Fax: 909-597-7185
Web: http://www.fabtechmotorsports.com
Email: info@fabtechmotorsports.com

About Rick Webster

Check Also

Mountain Off Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.) Shackle Reversal Kit

     Why install a Shackle Reversal? Because it allows the front axle to travel in a …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *