By Kevin Massey - CarZone Employee & Jeep Owner

2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

In 1987, Chrysler corporation introduced the first Jeep Wrangler to the world as a direct descendant of the AMC Willy’s MB and the Jeep CJ from the mid 1940’s. The Jeep Wrangler is an American icon that stands as an expression of freedom, a symbol of duty, and a means of unifying millions of off road enthusiasts around the globe with its world renowned off-road capabilities. Northern Nevada is truly a Jeep paradise. It’s a rare occurrence for drivers not to encounter a Jeep Wrangler on the road, and once you’ve experienced what they can do, you might end up in one yourself! 

THE BASICS – Lift, Tires, Wheels, & Shocks

I became a Jeep owner in December 2016, when I Purchased a 2-door 2007 Jeep Wrangler. The wrangler JK is an aftermarket monster. The modifications available are nearly limitless. You can build a jeep that tackles trails, all the way up to a full blown rock crawler. To get the most out of your jeep as well as add your own personal flare to it, mods are a must. Installed on my 2007 Wrangler are a few mods that are a great starting point for anyone serious about off-roading. First installed was a 3” Skyjacker lift. Suspension lifts provides excellent clearance over rocks, plants, water and other obstacles. A lift also enhances the break over, approach, and departure angles on your Jeep.  

Lets not forget, no lift would be complete without off-road tires and wheels. There are many brands and types to choose from. If you plan on daily driving your wrangler while still being able to dominate the trail, you’ll want a nice hybrid type tire. Installed on my jeep is a set of 33” Mickey Thompson Baja ATZp3 tires. They are mud and snow rated and provide unparalleled performance in all off-road situations, as well as being engineered for excellent highway/city driving. They ride smooth and are considerably more quiet than other off-road tires. The tread wear is very slow, providing you with a quality tire that you can count on for many miles on and off road.

These tires are paired with a set of 17” Pro-Comp Alloy wheels. When riding on a bigger tire, less wheel means more grip, cushion, and flex in the tire while off-road. Besides being lightweight, the black wheels also provide a more aggressive look to the Jeep.

With a lift, wheels, and tires in place, one more crucial upgrade that  needed to be made was shocks. Most lift kits come with shocks, but by default they aren’t usually the best and will need to be upgraded. For my Jeep I’ve opted for as set of Bilstein 5100 Series shocks. These are solid high performance shocks. They feature a brushed aluminum finish, a monotube construction and are gas charged. In conjunction with other mods, these shocks will increase vehicle control in all driving situations.

In the short time I’ve owned my Wrangler it’s been put to the test and successfully navigated through intense mud ruts, rock canyons, extreme vertical hill climbs, deep snow, water, and sand dunes. While I’m able to go many places thanks to these mods, there are still plenty of off-road challenges to face that will require many more mods to allow my wrangler to conquer them.

2007 Jeep Wrangler Sport

COMPLETING THE LOOK – Exterior Modifications

The front and rear bumper come in plastic stock and can be easily scratched and dented by rocks, tree limbs, or even other drivers. Steel front and rear bumpers are the way to go, as they will help you plow through most anything without damage. There is a wide variety of styles to choose from.

One style is a short width, or “Stubby” front bumper with a stinger recovery bar, like this one made by Red Rock 4X4. Besides being slightly lighter than a full width bumper, it can also provide more clearance for larger wheel/tire options, while maintaining the ability to be outfitted with a winch and recovery bull bar or stinger, such as this one made by Barricade. I’d say the short width style is the more popular option among off-road enthusiasts, and probably the look I’m leaning toward for my jeep. The full width bumper provides more protection when navigating through rocks and vegetation, and also has room for you to keep the stock fog lights installed.

Rear bumpers are mostly full width and can include a spare tire carrier, which eliminates the vibration of the stock spare tire carrier when off road. I’ll be going for a simple steel rear bumper with a tire carrier, here's one made by Barricade. Much like the front, there are many options that provide more functionality such as a rear winch mount or rear LED lights. Eliminating plastic trim is a must. Once you’ve replaced the front and rear bumper you’ll want to replace those plastic fender flares as well. Over time they will fade tremendously, and are also prone to scratching and denting from off-road obstacles and debris. Steel fender flares are the next step in upgrading the look of your jeep, as well as adding a bit more protection from damage. Here's a set from DV-8 Off-Road.

The last couple mods are absolute musts for extreme situations. First is an LED light bar. While there are many configurations for light setups, from bumper to hood mounts, the 50” light bar mounted above the windshield is the most popular and effective option, especially when paired with pillar mounted lights. Check out this combo by Raxiom. Night time off-roading will essentially become daytime, increasing visibility for obstacles you may not have seen as soon without additional lights. Last but not least, one of the most important tools to have off-road is a capable winch. When trail riding alone or with others in the mud, snow, or tricky situations, a winch is your ticket to freedom when you’re stuck in a rut or need an extra push (or pull). Winches are available with pulling capabilities from 8000lb-15000lbs, but it is recommended that you know the weight of your Jeep, and get a winch that is capable up to 50% over your vehicles weight for maximum effectiveness. Here's a winch from top brand Rugged-Ridge.



Having said everything about these Jeep Mods, from the basic suspension mods to essential exterior mods, here are the links to my choice in most of the parts I had mentioned. If you’re planning on getting a Jeep, I hope this blog has informed and inspired you to build the Jeep of your dreams, or at least get it off to a good start! Hope to see you on the trail!