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While I have no plans to get a lift right now, I will probably get one eventually. I understand the very basic concept, add more distance between the axle and the frame, thus giving you more clearance. But I do not have an understanding of all the details. How does an IFS handle the extra angle? If a 3" lift is added is there any increase in articulation, or just space? Is there a way to get articulation without a lift? Kits seem fairly small on parts... what about the control arms, sway bars, etc??

Can somebody point me to a primer? I tried a few searches, but I just don't know the vocabulary.

Drop bracket 6" kits don't increase articulation either. The lower control arm is the same one that came, stock. It still goes through the same amount of angular change up and down. The length of travel is still the same, from full droop to full compression. It just happens farther from the wheel well. The only thing that will increase the length of travel in front of an IFS system is longer control arms.

The reason to get a lift kit is NOT because of extra clearance in the wheel well. This is precisely the fallacy that many people fall into. If a given set of tires and wheels would rub without a lift, then it will rub WITH the lift too, unless something is done to stop the wheel from rising up all the way into the wheel well. This would be by way of dropping the bump stops (limiting up-travel) or else by using the drop-bracket technique which moves the entire arc of travel down out of the front wheel well.

If you want to make sure that a wheel clears the wheel well, then "clearance" the wheel well. That is, modify the wheel well itself in order to gain the clearance you need.

The role of a suspension lift kit is that it moves the underbelly up away from the ground. It increases ground clearance under many important parts of the vehicle. This is manifest mostly as an increase in breakover angle. Breakover angle is defined as the "complement of the greatest angle drawn between the wheel tangents and the under-surface of the car in a profile plan view". It does not increase the actual ground clearance which is the minimum distance between the lowest part of the vehicle (not on the wheel) and the ground. The lowest part of the vehicle is typically the differential housing in the axle, and the only way to raise this up is to go with a larger diameter tire or swap to a different design of axle.

A lift kit decreases the amount of times you hear your under-parts scraping on rocks.

Bigger tires help a lot too.

For the IFS FJ Cruiser, there are several options for mucking with the suspension:

1) Spacer lifts (with extended shocks for the rear)
2) Combined spacer/spring kits (with extended shocks)
3) Replacement shocks/springs for front and rear
4) Replacement rear links with any of the above
5) Replacement front upper or lower control arms with any of the above.
6) Drop bracket kits that drop the front lower control arm, with the above.


7) Totally redesigning the suspension and custom building it (solid axle swap)

Mostly, people do a "3 inch lift" which really just moves the existing suspension components down away from the frame a little bit. This is a good ground clearance upgrade without any significant issues regarding handling on or off-road. Many of these kits come with improved performance springs and shocks, which actually help make use of the potential suspension travel better than stock parts.

The least expensive lift is a spacer kit, and there are several available. Toytec sells a couple and they do hybrid options. Daystar makes a pure spacer kit. Revtek does too, and they'll sell you a decent pair of shocks along with it. These are moderate to advanced do-it-yourself projects or can be done by a shop.

Spacer kits utilize the stock springs which are fine. Everyone agrees that they feel stiffer than stock configuration, but I'm not exactly sure why. I've talked to people about it and it doesn't completely make sense that it should act stiffer, but I have to agree - having driven these things before and after, multiple times.

People typically do a wheel/tire upgrade along with their lift kit, in order to get the biggest improvement they can get, for their money. They often do the "body mount chop" which you can read about here with a search. The body mount chop is a fairly basic project for anyone who has rudimentary cut and weld capability in their garage, or you can get a shop to do it too.

My strongest advice, for anyone who is looking to upgrade parts on their FJ Cruiser, is that if this is your first 4x4, start by 4-wheeling the thing, stock, first.

This is because there are a ton of people here doing a ton of different things to their FJC's, and all for different reasons. Because of the different things that people mean by "4-wheeling", it's very hard to use the advice you get as gospel. My goals for my FJC may be very different than yours. My choices may be counterproductive for you.

Go wheeling with different people in different types of 4x4's. See what aspects seem to work better in the conditions YOU wheel in. Then, start looking at what you have on the menu, between available parts and budget.

Work backward from a goal to a plan.
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