Actual downsides to spacer lift

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LucasD

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So I know there are some controversies over using spacer lifts, however i can never seem to find why. All I see is buy OME. I don't have the money to get an expensive lift and all that right now but a $100 spacer lift isn't that bad. I'm not trying to get the best and most capable kj out there, I just want to give it a little meaner look with a lift and all terrain tires so when I do go out here and there it's easier. I honestly would only get a 1-1.5 inch lift. Is there anything that actually is bad about the spacer lifts or is just unoptimal ?
 

bwood97

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I went this route at the beginning, a cheap top plate lift, new OEM springs, and my springs were shot in 6 months and had me just sitting again at factory height, with a top spacer on.

I did it properly this time, ordering the parts over the span of a month or so, so split between 2 cheques (the parts are even more expensive here in Canada vs the states). It was an excellent decision to upgrade to a proper OME lift.

A cheaper route you can go is the OME 927s upfront with the cheaper Rancho line RS5764 I think it was.I got them on a wholesaler closeout deal on RockAuto for $30 a shock, and they actually ride great. They're a lot cheaper than the Bilsteins everyone recommends.

Everyone will call me out for saying this, but for the rear, I have been using the OEM shocks for months still, even with off-roading, and they haven't blown yet. I do suggest replacing them with extended rear shocks, but if you're trying to keep the cost down, you can do the rear shocks a few weeks later, they will work with a 2-2.5" lift for a bit without blowing. I do plan on replacing mine soon now, since I have new ranchos upfront but old OEMs in the rear still.

The jeep rides so much better with the heavier OME springs too, it rides like it was meant to now, stiff but very smooth.

I was in the same boat as you, reluctant to spend the bigger money on a proper kit, but I ended up doing it anyway and wasting money on my first try to cheap out on it.

For upper control arms, if you want them too, they've kept my suspension angles perfect with 2.5" of lift, there is a new cheaper brand "Deeke's" available on US Amazon for about $200 instead of $609 for JBA upper arms. I do recommend replacing the ball joints that come with the Deeke's lift UCAs though with Moog K6292s.

For my UCA and ball joints, Springs and shocks, I spent about $1000 in parts and did install myself, if you just did springs without UCAs and budget Rancho shocks, you could do it for $650-750 probably and have a jeep that rides and drives much better on and off road. The OME lift greatly improves on road ride and handling too in my opinion, it's not a purely off road benefit.
 

duderz7

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With the ifs you are limited in movement much beyond factory. Ome with no extra clevis or top plate spacers are still within factory suspension parameters just riding higher. You can squeak out a bit more with the above mentioned clevis and top plate but not much. With a spacer lift on top of the shock you are now allowing the suspension to extend way beyond it's capacity and also spring stacking at bottom out. Both of which are very undesirable.
 

RazorKJ

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As said above you can run what you want in the rear shock wise but a cheap alternative is get the rear shocks for a Durango. They are long enough to work with the extra lift and the shocks are a little bigger to handle the added weight of the heavier tire if you go a little bigger than stock. Have also heard but never tired it, but you can run the JKU rubicon rear springs (you have to cut a bit of the pig tail off for them to fit) and it will give you an 1-1.5 of lift in the rear. Like I said haven’t ever tired it myself.
 
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u2slow

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I don't get the 'pre-loading' critique with spacers. Spacer on top pushes the wheel hub further away from the body. That's lift. What's the pre-load? The vehicle's own weight?

As soon as I added the Teraflex top spacer, the geometry was too far off to be aligned, at all. Aftermarket control arms (rocky road) fixed that. The balljoints are greasable, and have lasted 10 years now. (140,000km). Rear has been improvised with 4runner coils and load-assist Durango shocks.

I feel like the naysayers must have stocks or kickbacks with OME, JBA, or whatever.
 

Rokk

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I put in a spacer lift and ran it for 30,000 miles. It didn’t do great things for the ride quality, but nothing grenaded. My springs didn’t immediately sag since I didn’t use the lift that adds preload to the front springs, and my ball joints didn’t pull out immediately which is something else I’ve heard people claim. It gave some clearance, which is greatly needed on these rigs and gave me time to decide if I wanted to spend the money on the higher quality parts. I was able to buy better tires first and didn’t have to do the more expensive lift all at once. If you don’t mind doing double work and less than optimal geometry I say try the spacers.
 

Luke

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Like everything in life there is a happy medium… you won’t find a much better explanation than Kai’s. Pre-load 8:40 followed by brief spacer discussion.

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Rokk

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That guys videos are great, however he is working with Toyotas. I don’t think I ever found an “under the top spacer” for the kk, nor have I heard anyone advocate for a lift via preload. The lift I used completely replaced the top plate and the other spacers I’ve seen bolt on top. I noticed darting in my steering which suggests a change in caster, but I was still able to get it aligned within spec so camber was fine. The aftermarket upper arms for the liberty fix the castor issue. I actually lost about half an inch in static droop when I switched from the spacer to the ome springs but of course gained no up travel. The shape of the control arms I bought (rro with bump stop plate) reduces up travel a tiny amount I think, so I lost total wheel travel with the spring lift and control arms but ride quality improved markedly.
 

Rokk

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I went from stock tire size to 255/70 r16 when I had the spacer lift, as well as a 2in wheel spacer. I added the wheel spacers to prevent fenders rubbing on embankments and such, but this set up did require hammering of the pinch weld behind the tires. The improvement off-road from the lift and inch larger tires was more than I thought it would be, and was totally worth it. After installing the ome lift it handles beautifully on the road. It would be nice if the Liberty had the aftermarket support that a Tacoma has, but it’s just not the case.
 

Erskine

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H&R springs are not expensive and will give you a 1" lift equating to hub centre to arch height of 20" and use standard length shocks.
Nice ride too.
 

ikuo78

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So I know there are some controversies over using spacer lifts, however i can never seem to find why. All I see is buy OME. I don't have the money to get an expensive lift and all that right now but a $100 spacer lift isn't that bad. I'm not trying to get the best and most capable kj out there, I just want to give it a little meaner look with a lift and all terrain tires so when I do go out here and there it's easier. I honestly would only get a 1-1.5 inch lift. Is there anything that actually is bad about the spacer lifts or is just unoptimal ?
There are various spacers,
If the strut length is extended like a top spacer, the knuckle will touch the strut.
Since it hits the knuckle rather than the arm, thrust load is applied to the ball joint.
If the strut length does not extend like Daystar 1.5, the coil will contract too much at full bump.
Both require some kind of countermeasures, but you can ride normally without them.
All you have to do is go slowly through the knolls and potholes.
 

wheeee32

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OME and the other higher cost options are usually recommended due to less headaches popping up after installation. I did mine back in 2014 and have only replaced common wear items since and the ride has been nice. My alignment has also never needed much correction anytime I take it for an alignment. It comes down to pay a bit more now and a little later instead of the opposite. But, if you like living with multiple papercuts that ensue when you try and upgrade on the cheap by all means go for it.
 

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