I think I am going to go with an AEV lift for my new and unmolested 2017 Rubicon Recon JKU. I am considering doing the lift myself on my garage floor. Three things concern me. My age with getting up and down from the floor all day, actually wrenching on such a new vehicle (I'm Skeered), and most importantly, those unexpected problems that seem to arise with any install.
So my question is posed to all of you folks out there that have installed an AEV lift. What little issues came about with the install that were not foreseen in the instructions? What problems should I be ready for? How well did AEV answer your questions if you had to call them? Any tools not mentioned in the literature that might be of help? Any other advice you might like to share?
Thanks! I appreciate your help.
I tried to remember how many AEV lifts I have installed. At least 6. From 2007 to 2014 JKURs. All of these were either the 3.5 or the 4.5 inch lift. You didn't say specifically which lift you were planning to install. My comments relate to the two that I have installed.
1. As mentioned, two floor jacks really help, but not mandatory (I am not 100% certain as I always have 2 floor jacks anyway.) You will need some nice tall, sturdy as shit jack stands. I think Harbor Freight has some decent ones (4.5 tons??) for about $30. You need 2 at least. I used 4 as having the jeep tilted that much made me nervous. Didn't seem stable to me.
2. You will need all the basic metric hand tools, from 8 mm up to at least 22 mm (from what I remember). A couple of nice ratcheting box wrenches in 18 and 19 mm really help as well. Lots of those damn nuts to take off.
3. You will need to drill out the knuckle for the high steer kit (depending on which lift you are installing). Use a good quality step drill bit that has the final size in the hole size you need. (I think it is 7/8".) Home Depot sells them. The Irwin brand seems like a decent one. Much, much easier to get a straight and true hole with a step bit than with a twist bit. You will be amazed at how easily it cuts through that knuckle.
4. Torqueing all those damn bolts (actually you torque the nuts, not the bolts) is a real PITA. You can use a torque wrench and struggle your ass off trying to find the right angle with the right extension and then you can turn it about 15 degrees at a time. Too many people (IMO) are way too OCD about hitting exactly 125 ft lbs or 90 ft lbs or whatever. Its metal on metal, do you think 135 ft lbs is going to do some "harm"? No. Okay, I am on a soapbox, but I am going somewhere with this rant. Instead of busting your ass with a torque wrench, lying on your back (or side) cramped as shit, use one of these:
It has 4 speed settings which if you "calibrate it" you can dial in a specific torque setting that will be "close enough". I played around with this tool and made a little cheat sheet. Setting number 1 with 3 bumps of the trigger after contact is XX ft-lbs. Setting number 2 is YY ft-lbs. And so on. The tool maxes out at like 220 ft lbs (from memory) so its not like you are going to break the bigger bolts on your suspension if you overshoot a bit.
5. I don't know what FCA is using to clamp the front brake lines in place on a 2017, but in the past, freeing the brake lines from the stupid ass clamps has been a real PITA. I have a giant, and I mean giant pair of slip joint (plumber's ??) pliers. They must be 2' long. That gives you the leverage to open that damn clamp. Again, not sure what it is on the 2017s, but be prepared to spend some time on that step.
6. Don't install any lift, at least one that involves new springs, without installing one of these:
The POS factory track bar bracket is worthless. It will oval out and allow death wobble sooner or later. If you install this with the springs out of the way, it will take 10 minutes. If you install it with the springs in, you will be at it for an hour or more fighting to get the bolts in!
So there you have it. Now get out there and do it. You will know everything you need to know about your lift. And when your jeep is making a funny noise on the trail someday, you will be able to pinpoint it, because you know what is going on. If you take it to some shop, it will all be a mystery. And most shops won't be as thorough as you will be!