Building a vehicle to tackle the parts of the world not covered by a road can provide a fun, enthralling hobby, but it can be frustrating if you aren't getting the performance you need. As with any vehicle, you can upgrade most systems to optimize your ride, including the engine, the intake and exhaust systems, or even the wheels and tires. For off-roading, the most important system that requires an upgrade over OEM equipment is the suspension system. How the suspension handles a particular terrain will do more to determine a vehicle's overall performance more than any other system in the vehicle. Install either or both of these components to improve off-road performance.
A lift kit from Rubicon Express, Rancho, Smittybilt, or another manufacturer will provide increased clearance with an improved ride-height profile. A higher ride height allows you to install a larger set of wheels and tires to clear obstacles, crawl over large rock formations, and to handle well over rough terrain. Lift kits can range from mild to wild, with 1- or 2-inch lifts providing enough clearance for average trails, or 4-, 5-, and 6-inch lifts that help you tackle serious backcountry wilderness.
You can purchase each component of a standard lift kit individually, or in an all-in-one package. Some kits include all of the hardware that you need for a complete installation, while others simply include the components. For the latter kits, acquire an installation kit that includes all of the bushings and fittings necessary.
Shocks and springs
Most lift kits include a set of shocks and springs, but if you already have a lift kit installed or the factory ride height of your vehicle is sufficient, simply installing an upgraded set of shocks and springs will greatly improve the suspension performance of your rig in most off-road environments. Depending on the style of driving, a set of Rancho or Rubicon Express shocks can provide a stable ride on even the roughest terrain. If you purchase a set of shocks and springs individually, you will need to purchase an installation kit that includes the fittings and miscellaneous hardware needed for installation.