Rough Country 3.5” Suspension Install on Jeep Wrangler JK

Sep. 12, 2016 By Pete Bach
This is our old shop Jeep, but we were looking to find a great lift kit for our new daily driver moreso than a trail rig.

On any given week, we typically install seven Jeep Wranlger JK lift kits at Bach Crawlers Off-Road, Inc.  We’ve installed every type and brand on the market, including, long arms, short arms, mid arms, prototypes, cheap kits ($300), expensive kits ($8,000), street performance kits, flex kits… everything.  After each installation, a long test drive/shake down is part of the entire process, which also includes a quick trip up our RTI ramp to make sure each new suspension part is working properly and is coexisting with all of the factory Jeep parts.  You can say that we’ve experienced it all when it comes to JK suspensions. So when it came time to install a new lift suspension on our newly purchased 2016 JKU, we already had all the knowledge of each and every suspension kit on the market today. 

The shop already has two other JK Wranglers that are built mostly for the trail so this new 2016 JKU was purchased to display some of our favorite products that we’ve tested and installed over the years, as well as to act as one of our daily drivers. We were honest with ourselves when asking, “What is this Jeep’s true purpose in life?” A hard-core rock crawler is what it would NOT be, which narrowed our choices in a lift kit to something that was more civilized on road.  Something that would retain our factory JK ride quality, handle well on road but still be able to hit some of the mild trails when duty calls was in order. We also didn’t want a kit that did nothing more than relocate factory parts… and we didn’t want a kit that replaced too many factory components either.

This is the Rough Country 3.5” JK Suspension Kit we’ll be installing.

After speaking to several manufacturers and collecting data from years past during hundreds of installations, we decided that Rough Country would be our company of choice, who offers a 3.5” kit that we’d add to our brand new JKU Wrangler.  Yes, Rough Country. We’ve installed hundreds of suspension kits and systems from Rough Country alone, and customer satisfaction has been nearly 100 percent positive from Jeep owners.  Our own personal experiences on test drives and loaner vehicles that feature Rough Country Suspension kits have always given us favorable impressions as well. Interestingly enough, though, we had never installed a Rough Country suspension on one of our own personal or shop vehicles.

The front track bar bracket is excellent.

Rough Country’s 3.5” JK kit includes many of the typical components that other companies offer; however, a few noteworthy pieces are the track bar relocation brackets and front lower control arms. One of our favorite parts of this kit is the fact that it relocates the front track bar up for improved suspension and steering geometry after dropping the drag link. If you don’t want to drop the drag link via a new pitman arm included in the kit, you can choose to use a drag link flip kit offered by many companies instead.  Either way, handling is precise, crisp and predictable. The bracket itself is very stout with plenty of attachment points, and it also includes a new mounting location for the steering stabilizer shock.

The rear track bar bracket is raised for better handling.

Out back, the rear track bar gets a relocation mount as well that corrects roll centers for excellent tracking and stability on and off road. Back up front, two properly bent lower control arms that house factory-style Clevite bushings take care of caster correction. 

There are the heavy-duty lower control arms with Clevite bushings included in the kit.

The rest of the kit is what you’d expect from most manufacturers… springs, shocks, extended sway bar links, brake line bracketry, etc.  Yes, it’s a very complete kit. The springs are perfectly tuned for what is, perhaps, the smoothest ride possible for a 3.5” JK lift kit. Each part is durable enough for most medium rated trails, powder coated for protection from the elements and well thought out by the Rough Country engineering department. 

Rough Country 2.0 shocks are included.

Rough Country includes their own front and rear 2.0 gas-charged shocks with their 3.5” JK kit and we are happy with their performance, as we have not had a seal blow out as we had in the past with some of the older Rough Country shocks.  We are guessing that a new and improved seal has been added to their 2.0 shocks. As for dampening and control, we feel that while the ride quality is likely the smoothest ride on the highway it does suffer a bit around town and off road. A more firmly valved shock would be our choice to eliminate some body roll and excessive bounce and movement that is consistent with big JKs, especially since we decided to roll with larger 37-inch tires that are a little larger than the 35-inch tires we’d typically recommend for this kit. But don’t let this sway you… the ride is still second to none!
Typically, our shop’s recommendation would be a 35-inch tire with this kit, which fit perfectly and don’t interfere on any part of the JK body and look great as well.  However, we wanted to go a bit bigger and opted for 37” BFG KO2 tires.  While our 37s had few issues after the kit was installed we started to add weight in form of body armor, which then necessitated high-clearance flares. The 37s now fit with no problems and look all business, and with some trimming, our 3.5” Rough Country kit could handle 40” tires as well.

We were able to fit 37-inch BFGoodrich KO2 tires with no problem. 

Our shop’s new JKU is a dream to drive! Handling on road is excellent and only hampered slightly due to tire size. Running down the highway at 75 mph is a low drama experience with no white knuckles or tense fingers and hands. The 3.5” Rough Country JK suspension inspires confidence and leaves the driver feeling as though they are driving a stock Wrangler. Each component is well thought out and executed, which, by the way, comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty that should also inspire confidence. 

We think our Jeep looks and drives great with the Rough Country kit.

If you are looking for a well thought out suspension with ride quality that will impress you every time you drive your Jeep, take a look at the 3.5” Rough Country kit. You won’t be disappointed, they guarantee it.

Rough Country Suspensions
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