Jeep Grand Cherokee Project: BDS 4-Inch Suspension Install

Mar. 11, 2014 By Josh Burns

As most project go, slowly but surely, our Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ is finally getting off the ground – this time, literally. There are plenty of the 1999 to 2004 Grand Cherokees out in the world, and they can be had for minimal costs. Sure, they’re not as widely popular on the trail as Wranglers, but they also will probably cost you a lot less to buy in the first place. That was basically the starting point for our build, and we’re anxious to progress it far enough to get it on the trail.

While the WJ has the benefit of being the last stick-axle Grand Cherokee built, it still has its shortcomings for the trail, including low ground clearance and a major lack of space in the wheel wells for upgrading to larger tires. Our first step was to address the lack of wheel well space by adding Bushwacker fender flares. Our WJ also was starting to get some oxidation on the paint as well, so we found a decently priced cleat-coat paint job at a local MAACO shop.

Click image for more on Bushwacker Fender Flares Install & MAACO paintjob

Next we needed to really address the ground clearance with a lift, so we turned to BDS Suspension for its 4-inch Suspension Lift Kit. BDS Suspension was first started back in 1996, as the founders (who had worked for other suspension companies) were frustrated of companies advertised kits that were still in development or untested. The Michigan-based company backs its products with a “No Fine Print Warranty,” which means if you are the original purchaser of the kits and a part break, they’ll replace it.  We’ve yet to try what BDS has to offer, but word on the trail is their kits are solid and they hold up to abuse, so we figured it was time to find out for ourselves.

Although the lift kit alone is said to accommodate 31-inch tires on the WJ, after talking with BDS, other WJ owners and Bushwacker, we knew that the kit when paired with the Cut Out Flares would accommodate the 33-inch tires we desire (mind you, with aftermarket wheels with the proper back spacing).

The BDS 4-inch Kit for the Grand Cherokee WJ comes with new front (4-inch) and rear 3.5-inch) Pro-Ride Coil Springs, which BDS says are designed to withstand full coil bind and always return to original height. The kit also includes lower adjustable control arms that use large, black e-coated forged flex ends and Clevite rubber bushings. The arms use interchangeable bushings and can be easily converted over to polyurethane bushings if greasable bushings are your preference. A dropped pitman arm and track-bar relocation bracket are include to return steering angles to stock, while billet transfer case drop spacers help reduce steep driveline angles. The 4-inch kit also includes rear anti-sway bar links and a rear upper tri-link spacer. For shocks, the kit is available with BDS’s 5500 Series hydraulic shocks or Fox 2.0 Performance Series shocks. We opted for the Fox monotube shock upgrade for our kit.

One important note for the BDS kit is for owners with a V8, which may not be able to get the stated lift height due to the added weight of the larger engine. BDS also notes that a front driveline modification may be required, though we did not need to do so at this point. Along with the kit, we also decided to replace the stock stabilizer with BDS’s 9500 Dual Stabilizer Kit. BDS says the 9500 Kit is designed to help increase steering control and reduce potential steering wheel shimmy, and it will also help address any potential “death wobble” issues – something that longtime Jeepers might have experienced over the years with lifted vehicles.

SoCal SuperTrucks helped us with the install of our BDS 4-inch Grand Cherokee lift. The shop, which has eight installment bays and one aligment bay, may have "trucks" in the name, but rest assured that just as many Jeeps roll through its doors as do trucks and SUVs.

To help with the installation of the kit, San Bernadino’s SoCal SuperTrucks helped us out. The professional and experienced crew at SCST has worked on countless off-road vehicles, and in spite of the name the shop has nearly as many Jeeps through its doors as it does trucks. Having worked with shop tech Ryan Poe previously on solving our tire-clearance issues on our Toyota Tundra we were happy he’d help us on the BDS kit install. BDS provides detailed installation instructions for the kit, and realistically it’s a one-day job for the competent garage mechanic, provided they have the proper tools for the install. Without access to a lift, however, we were happy to turn to the professionals at SoCal SuperTrucks.

After removing the front sway bar links (keep the mounting hardware), lower the axle enough to remove the stock coil springs. This is obviously much easier with a full lift, but the garage mechanic can tackle it as well. Just make sure the vehicle is secure on jack stands.

Before removing the stock pitman arm, make an index mark on the arm and steering box sector shaft. Once the stock pitman arm is removed, transfer the alignment mark to the new drop-down pitman arm for proper alignment.

Remove the stock lower control arms.

The lower control arms that come with the BDS lift are adjustable. The stock front distance is 15 3/4 inches, and BDS suggests 16 1/8 inches for its replacement arms.

The 1/4-inch control arm spacers go on each side of the control arm bushing, while the 1/8–inch spacers go at the frame mount.

The center hole for the outer OE track bar mount needs to be drilled out to 1/2 inch.

The new BDS track bar mounting plate gets installed, held in place by the two motor mount bolts on the driver’s side and the lower track bar hole that was drilled out. BDS suggests torqueing the 10mm hardware to 30 lb.-ft., while the 12mm should be at 60 lb.-ft.

After removing the stock bump stop, the bump stop housing is removed and a spacer is installed.

Now the stock bump stop can be reinstalled (a little grease will help get it in there).

To access the top front shock mounts, lift the hood and loosen the top mounting bolt.


Here, the front sway bar links are installed.

Along with the 4-inch lift, we decided to install BDS’s 9500 Dual Stabilizer Kit for the WJ, which is designed to help increase steering control and reduce potential steering wheel shimmy (and potential “death wobble” issues). First, the stock steering stabilizer needs to be removed.


Next Page... WJ Project: BDS 4-inch Lift Install at SoCal SuperTrucks Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!