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drive this Jeep regularly on paved roads?"  If you've bought your Jeep so you can trailer it to the trail and back then this article is not for you.  You have too much money and I'm definately jealous.  So for the rest of us lets look at lifts.
    The first thing you really need to look at when deciding on a lift is what size tires and clearance you're looking for.  After doing more research on TJ lifts than NASA has on Moon landings, there are only three lift kits out there regardless of clearance and tires you want to run.  They are all Long Arm kits.  Long Arm kits are kits that replace the factory control arms that locate the axle to the frame.  Extending the arms and not only increasing articulation but also improving the factory driving characteristics.  The kiits are the Fabtech 6 or 8 inch Long Arm kit, the Rubicon Express 5.5 Extreme Duty Long Arm Kit, and the Full Traction 6 inch Long Arm kit.  I believe you can't go wrong with any of the kits so I will feature the highlights and shortcomings of each.
    The Fabtech kit features the elimination of the stock link pockets keeping the upper and lower links on the same plane.  It also includes non-adjustable control arms which keep the caster constant which improves on road handling but also reduces off road performance.  I would consider the Fabtech kit the middle of the road when it comes to installation.  I definately ranks first for price, offering shocks with the kit, and the best dollar for dollar performance.
    The Rubicon Express Kit features a some great advantages with adjustable control arms and a 3 piece Belly Pan.  RE is known for making the best Jeep kits in the business and has the loyal following of many a dedicated Jeeper.  The RE kit also features increased wheel travel for better traction off road, minimized axle steer through the suspension cycle, and decreased torque roll, providing a safer, more controllable vehicle.  The kit also tucks the driveline better than any other kit decreasing the chance of high centering.  Unfortunately, this feature also causes it to be the most intensive when it comes to installation.  Don't let just anybody install this kit.  The installer must be very compitent welder.  In addition to the severity of the install the kits sits slightly lower.
    The Full Traction kit is the only bolt on kit of the bunch and is also the most expensive.  The FT kit utilizes a true long arm rear 3 link, the upper triangulated bar pivots on a high-misalignment uni-ball joint. This eliminates the need for a rear axle track bar. The result, is incredible linear wheel travel and axle articulation, without the binding caused by the rear track bar.  According to the tech editor the FT kit offers the best rear artticulation of the group and improves on road performance.  Although the kit is completely bolt on you will have to completely customize the exhaust to install this system.  Unless your going to upgrade all of the exhuast components don't buy this one.
    All of the kits have great advantages and disadvantages.  You really can't go wrong with any of them.  All of the kits also require the use of a slip yoke eliminator and a CV driveshaft.  Both cost more money but are really necessary if you're going to take out your rig on even moderate terrain with even the slightest lift.  Now on to tires.
    What tires do we want and what size.  Well if you're not going to add either coil spacers or body lift or both, the largest tire size you will run with any of the kits previously discussed will be 35s or 36s.  The 37s that are ever increasingly popular on and off the trail really require some more additional lift.  Fabtech does offer and additional 8 inch kit if you choose to go with the 37s.   Lets take a look at 35inch tires because without immediate axle and gear upgrades they can be run right out of the garage with any of these kits.  
    Ok... I really don't know where to start.  There are more tire companies offering incredible off road extreme traction tires.  Now unless your budget is endless price will always be an issue and outside of the BFG Krawler most of us can offord a great tire.  Now I love some of the unidirectional tires that are offered out there, like the Yokohama Geolander, or the Mikey Thompson Baja Claw, or the economical Pro Comp Xterrains but I don't recommend unless you are very patient and can deal with swaping tires and rims constantly.  Of course your going to buy 5 not 4 tires.  Well how do you mount the fifth tire, for which side.  and if the other side punctures on the trail you'll have to run it backwards.  In addition it makes it a real pain to rotate the spare through to extend the life of these soft rubber tires.  Tires are as much a matter of what you like for looks as they are performance.  I really like the look of the Geolander and almost got a set even though they are unidirectional.  My top picks are either of these three.  The Goodyear MTR, BFG Mud Terrain, or the old stand by TSLs Super Swamper.  I don't believe you can go wrong with any of these tires just remember if you want traction you have to sacrifice for road noise.  There are no quiet, great performing off-road tires.  None!  So don't ask.  I like the Goodyear MTRs.  They are regularly seen on the pro curcuit and offer a very puncture resistant sidewal and aggresive tread design.  There are so many different write ups on tires that the information is readily available on every tire.  My only suggestion is to check www.tirerack.com for prices.  Even after shipping they are usually far less expensive than any local shop can do.  Plus no local tax.
    Well, with the lift kit installed and new tires, slip yoke eliminator, cv driveshaft, and rear bumper (to hold that new spare), you are ready to hit the trail.  So whats next?
    Well here is a short list of other items which you should address and add to your TJ:

Manual Front Hub Conversion
New Front and Rear Gears
Front and Rear Lockers
New Superior 35 Axle Upgrade
Additional Lighting

    The TJ is the ultimate in off the show room floor performance and requires much less than its parents popular parents, the CJ and YJ Wrangler.  If you have any questions or comments regarding this article or any other items on this site please feel free to drop me a line at scott@4x4garage.com .

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