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  1. #1
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    2.5" Rancho Jeep XJ Cherokee Lift Installation Write-Up

    After picking up our used 1997 Jeep Cherokee or, "XJ" as most people like to call them, we wanted to give it a modest lift and run bigger tires as soon as we could. Of course, we didn't want to spend a more than we needed to on a lift kit and if at all possible, we didn't want to go any taller than we had to as well. With this in mind, we decided to get a Rancho RS66000 2.5" lift as we found to be very budget friendly, just the right height and it came very complete. The only thing we did differently was to skip the add-a-leafs that come with the kit and opted for the optional 2.5" leaf springs you could get separately. Also, knowing that we would be running big tires for such a small amount of lift, we also picked up a set of aftermarket bump stop extensions front and rear as well as a set of Bushwacker Flat Fenders to help mitigate rubbing at a full stuff. While the Rancho lift kit does come with good instructions, this write-up should help fill in a few blanks and see how we decided to address a few things.

    What you will need
    • Rancho RS66000 (Chrysler 8.25 rear axle) or RS66001 (Dana 35 rear axle)
    • Rancho RS7000 MT Shocks (or shocks of your choice)
    • 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21mm Sockets & Wrenches
    • 9/16, 3/4" Sockets & Wrenches
    • Ratchet
    • 3" & 6" Ratchet Extension
    • Torx T-40, T-55 Bits
    • Torque Wrench
    • 3 lb. Hammer
    • Floor Jack (2 would make this job easier)
    • 4 - Jack Stands
    • White Lithium Grease
    • PB Blaster
    • Drill
    • Unibit or Appropriate Size Bit (as needed)

    Here's a shot of what all we got with our Rancho RS66000 kit plus the optional 2.5" leaf springs. You will also see that we picked up a set of Rancho RS7000 MT Shocks and a Rancho RS5000 Steering Stabilizer to complete the kit.


    Additional parts we got include a pair of JKS Quicker Disconnects, replacement Crown bump stops to replace the crumbling ones we had on and front and rear Ruske bump stop extensions.



    Front Instructions
    1. Park your Jeep on a level surface, set the parking brake and chock the rear wheels. Then use a 3/4" socket or lug wrench to just loosen the lug nuts on your front wheels.


    2. Use a floor jack to raise the front of your Jeep from the axle and then set it back down on jack stands placed under the frame rails near the front lower control arm mounts.


    3. With the front axle still supported by your floor jack, use a 3/4" socket or lug wrench to remove the lug nuts on your front wheels. Pull the wheels off and set them aside.


    4. Using a 15mm wrench, remove the nut securing your front sway bar links to the sway bar arm.


    5. Using a Torx T-55 bit and an 18mm wrench, remove the bolt and nut securing your sway bar link to the axle. If you bought new sway bar links, you can discard your factory ones.


    6. Using a 13mm socket and wrench, remove the two bolts securing your front shocks to the axle.


    7. Open your hood and remove the nuts securing your front shocks to the fender using a 14mm wrench.


    8. Using a Torx T-40 bit, remove the bolt securing your front brake hard lines to the frame of your Jeep.


    9. Using a 15mm socket, remove the track bar bolt from the axle.


    10. Using an 18mm wrench, remove the nut securing your steering stabilizer to the mounting stud on the drag link.


    11. Using an 18mm socket and wrench, remove the nut and bold securing the steering stabilizer to the axle.


    12. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the cotter pit from the tie-rod end stud as shown.


    11. Use a 19mm socket to remove the nut securing the tie-rod end to the knuckle.


    12. Using a 3 lb. hammer, strike the end of your knuckle solidly as shown in this photo until the tie-rod end comes free.


    13. Use a 13mm wrench to remove the bolt securing the coil retainer on to the axle.


    14. Use a 21mm socket and wrench to remove the bolt and nut securing your passenger side front lower control arm to the axle mount.


    15. Use a 21mm socket and wrench to remove the bolt and nut securing your passenger side front lower control arm to the frame mount.


    16. Slowly lower your floor jack so that the front axle drops down from your Jeep and then remove the passenger side coil as shown.


    17. If you are adding bump stop extensions, follow the instructions provided to determine what size drill bit you will need to install them on your axle. Use that bit to drill a hole on top of the lower spring perch as shown.


    18. Using the self-tapping bolt provided and some cutting oil, tap the hole you just drilled. Remove the bolt and leave it out once you are done.


    19. Gather the control arm bushings and liberally apply white lithium grease on them.


    20. Liberally apply white lithium grease to the inside collar of the control arm joints as shown.


    21. Install the bushing into the control arms by pressing the 2 halves in as shown and then install the zerk nipples provided.


    22. Apply a liberal amount of white lithium grease inside the bushing hole and on the crush sleeve. Then, install the crush sleeve into the bushing by pushing it in as shown.


    23. You will need to sort through and determine what bushing spacers you will need for your install. Early model XJ's will require 2 thin spacers and later models will require 2 thick spacers. Apply a light coating of white lithium grease to the spacers you will be using.


    24. Slide the lower control arm up into the frame side mount with the spacers and secure it in place by inserting the factory bolt through the mounting hole as shown. If significant effort is required to get the control arm in, remove one or more of the spacers so that it just slides right in. Secure it in place with the factory nut.


    25. Slide the lower control arm up into the axle side mount and secure it in place by inserting the factory bolt and nut. Use a 21mm socket and wrench to tighten both the axle and frame side bolts and nuts to 125 ft. lbs. of torque.


    26. As mentioned earlier, the factory jounce stops had totally crumbled away and were just sitting on the axle inside of the coils. I made sure to replace them with new stops before proceeding.


    27. While holding the front bump stop extension inside your new Rancho coil, work the coil up the jounce stop tower and then slip the bottom of it onto the spring perch on the axle as shown. You may find it necessary to lower your floor jack as low as it can go to get the coil in.


    28. Rotate the coil until the bottom is indexed into the spring perch on the axle. Then, use a 13mm wrench to reinstall the factory coil retainer.


    29. Insert the mounting bolt into the bump stop extension and then slip in a ratchet with 3" extension and appropriate sized socket through the coil to tighten the bolt and secure the bump stop to your axle.


    30. Repeat steps 14-29 on the driver side of your Jeep.

    31. Use your floor jack to raise your axle up until you can reinstall the bolts securing your brake hard lines onto the frame. You will need a Torx T-40 bit for this job.


    32. Using a 19mm socket, reinstall your tie-rod onto the steering knuckle and tighten the castle nut to 65-70 ft. lbs. of torque. If needed, tighten the castle nut a bit more as needed to allow you to reinstall the cotter pin.


    33. The photo below shows what the bushings and hardware top of your front shocks should look like once installed.


    34. With just the bottom washer and lower bushing installed on top of your front shock, push the stud up through the mounting hole on your fender while locating the bottom of the shock on top of the axle mount. If you bought gas charged monotube shocks like the new Rancho RS7000 MT, you may find it easier to install if you lower your axle a bit.




    35. Secure the shock to your axle using the factory bolts and nuts. Tighten them to 45 ft. lbs. of torque. You will need a 13mm socket and wrench for this job.


    36. Install the bushing, washer and nut on top of the upper shock stud and then use a 14mm wrench to secure it in place. Tighten the nut to 17 ft. lbs. of torque or until the rubber bushings just starts to bulge.


    37. Reinstall the track bar onto the axle mount using the factory bolt and nut. Use a 15mm socket to tighten them to 62 ft. lbs. of torque.


    38. Install your new Rancho RS5000 steering stabilizer or old stabilizer onto the draglink mounting stud and secure it in place using the factory hardware. You will need an 18mm to tighten the nut to 35 ft. lbs. of torque.


    39. Using an 18mm socket and wrench, secure your steering stabilizer to the axle mount using the factory bolt and nut. You will need an 18mm socket and wrench to tighten them to 55 ft. lbs. of torque.


    40. Reinstall your wheels and use a 3/4" socket or lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts to 95 ft. lbs. of torque. Then, use your floor jack to raise up your Jeep enough to remove the jack stands and lower your Jeep back down to the ground.


    If you purchased a set of JKS Quicker Disconnect Sway Bar Links, click on this link for instructions on how to install them.
    JKS Quicker Disconnect Link Installation Write-Up

    Otherwise, follow the instructions that came with the sway bar link kit you purchased before continuing onto the rear installation of this lift kit.

  2. #2
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    Rear Instructions
    Please note that the Rancho RS66000 kit comes with add-a-leafs which are intended to be installed on your factory leaf springs. I opted to get their new replacement 2.5" leaf springs and the following instructions only cover the installation of them. If you are using the add-a-leafs provided, please refer to the Rancho instructions to install them before continuing.

    1. Move your wheels chocks to the front wheels. Then use a 3/4" socket or lug wrench to just loosen the lug nuts on your rear wheels.


    2. Use a floor jack to raise the rear end of your Jeep from the axle and then set it back down on jack stands placed under the frame rails near the leaf spring mounts.


    3. With the rear axle still supported by your floor jack, use a 3/4" socket or lug wrench to remove the lug nuts on your rear wheels. Pull the wheels off and set them aside and then lower your axle so on to 2 jack stands. If you have 2 floor jacks handy, you can just use them to support your axle on either side of the differential.


    4. Using a 13mm socket and a long ratchet extension, remove the 2 bolts securing the rear shocks to the frame.


    5. Using a 19mm socket, remove the nut securing the shocks to the axle stud.


    6. Using a 13mm socket, remove the 2 bolts securing the bump stop to the frame.


    7. Using a 19mm socket, remove the nuts securing the U-bolts to the rear axle.


    8. Using a 21mm socket, remove the bolts securing the leaf springs to the frame mounts.


    9. Using a 21mm socket and wrench, remove the bolt and nut securing the leaf spring to the shackle.


    10. Apply a liberal amount of white lithium grease to the leaf spring bushings.


    11. Install the bushings into the leaf springs as shown.


    12. Apply a liberal amount of white lithium grease to the crush sleeve and install it into the leaf spring bushing.


    13. Place the leaf spring on top of the axle making sure that it's situated on top of the centering pin, place the factory U-bolt plate on top of it and then place the sway bar link mount on top of the U-bolt plate as shown.


    14. Install the leaf spring onto the frame mount and loosely secure it in place using the factory bolt. Use a 21mm socket to tighten the bolt to 80 ft. lbs. of torque.


    15. Use the new U-bolts provided with the kit to secure your axle to the leaf spring. Use a 19mm socket to tighten the U-bolt nuts to 55 ft. lbs. of torque.


    16. Slowly raise your rear axle until you can install the leaf springs into the shackles and the secure it in place using the factory bolt and nut. Use a 21mm socket and wrench to tighten them to 80 ft. lbs. of torque.


    17. Use the factory bolts to secure your new extended bump stop to the frame. Use a 13mm socket to tighten these bolts to 30-40 ft. lbs. of torque.


    18. Using a 13mm socket and a long ratchet extension, secure your new upper shock mount to the frame using the factory bolts. Tighten these bolts to 45 ft. lbs. of torque.


    19. Install your new shocks on to the axle studs and secure them in place with the factory nut. Use a 19mm socket to tighten the nut to 75 ft. lbs. of torque.


    20. Reinstall your wheels or, if you got new wheels and tires, install those at this time. Use a 3/4" socket or lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts to 95 ft. lbs. of torque. Then, use your floor jack to raise up your Jeep enough to remove the jack stands and lower your Jeep back down to the ground.

  3. #3
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    The Rancho 2.5" lift is really designed to be run with a set of advertised 31x11.50/R15's which have an "actual size" of about 28" tall. My goal was to try and run a set of 285/70R17's which have an actual size that is just shy of 33" tall. Basically, they'd be close to an advertised 35x12.50/R17 and way bigger than what this kit is intended for. In addition to running taller bump stop extensions to help mitigate rubbing at a full stuff, I have also opted to run a set of Bushwacker flat fenders as they really help to open up the fender wells. Of course, if you're on a budget, another option is to just remove the factory fenders flares and trim the body to open things up. Whatever you decide to do, here are a few shots to show you how to remove the factory fender flares.

    1. The plastic factory fender flares are attached to metal clips bolted onto the body. To remove them, you will need to lift up and pry the fenders off as shown.


    2. There are nuts behind the fenders that secure the metal clips to the body panel and they will need to be removed.




    Here's what our XJ looked like right after installing our new 2.5" Rancho lift kit and with the fenders removed. As you can see, the front bumper end caps will need to be removed and the rear ones will need to be trimmed as well.






    Again, to make this work, the outer fender lip with all the holes in it will need to be trimmed to provide enough clearance to run tires of this size. Or, you will need to run high clearance after market fenders like what Bushwacker makes. Here are a few shots of what our XJ looks like with the Bushwacker Flat Fenders installed






    Close up shot...







    And that should be it. I hope you found this write-up to be helpful. Please note that the instructions I've provided should only be used as a supplemental guide to help you along

  4. #4
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    Cool write up. Now I only need to get an XJ.

  5. #5
    Guy with a Red 2-Door cozdude's Avatar
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    Great write up! Thanks Eddie! Just shared this with one of my friends who is looking to lift his XJ more and doesn't want to pay a shop to do it
    October 16, 2013, wednesday early evening, east of the pacific ocean, selectee for truly random and boring Parking lot photo of the moment grand platinum prize winner!

    2011 JKS
    EVO Bolt-on Coilovers, EVO 1/4 pounder w/ stinger, 35 Nitto Mud Grapplers, PR44, and some EVO stuff

    Awaiting install-
    On Order-
    Want list- 37's, Evo carrier and skins, PSC hydro assist

  6. #6
    Caught the Bug
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    Great Job

    Love the detailed pics on this build. I've rebuilt Baconator 3 times, first with just extended shackles and longer shocks, then 3" and 31s, then 6.5" and 33's. I love how easy XJ's are to work and how cost effective they are if you buy one that wasn't abused to bad.

    Keep up these amazing write ups!


    Joshua
    Baconator
    "The Baconator"
    1996 Jeep Cherokee Country
    4.0L H.O, AW4, NP231, D30HP Aussie Locked,
    Chrysler 8.25, 3.55, 214K
    33X12.5X15 BFG A/T , 5.5" RE Coils /6.5"
    3.5" RE Leafs+ RC Shackle Relocation+ RC Ext Shackle
    Virginia Fab Stubby Winch Bumper + Rugged Ridge 8500lbs Winch

    Youtube Channel
    http://www.youtube.com/user/4x4WashedInMud?feature=mhee

    Our Jeeps Are Washed In Mud, But Are You Washed In The Blood????!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Nothing but a Thing Linebacker's Avatar
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    Thx for the writeup Eddie. Definitely a weekend + job. I'm thinking this style lift is the way to go for my '92 MJ. It's currently running 31x10.5x15's with 1 1/4" Spidertrax spacers, so 2 1/2" of lift will be plenty. It currently has a disc braked 8.8" rear axle from an Explorer (I think). Soon as I figure out an E-brake set up the lift is on deck with a rear locker.
    Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a beer which is pretty close!

  8. #8
    Been Around the Block
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    One of my XJ's in college was running 33" BFG KM's, and that thing had 4 or 4.5" of lift and still needed trimming. Nice job fitting those on 2.5".

    I may have missed it elsewhere, what are the plans for gearing on this? I seem to recall that most of the XJ's with the 8.25 were running 3.55 gears, and factory tires were 27 or 28" tall or so, but my memory may be slipping...



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