Updated: Dec 17, 2020
#SaturdayRant There are only three things we won’t install at Bull Run 4x4 no matter how much you want to pay us to do it.
1. Jeep grills without seven slots 2. Halo RGB Headlights 3. Rough Country Lift Kits
So let’s start with a brief history lesson about our loyalty to the Seven Slot Grill design and why we think it’s taboo to change it out for something else.
It was not until the release of the first widely available civilian Jeep, the 1945 Willys CJ-2A, that the grille was reduced to the prominent seven slot design that it retains today and has become so well-known for. So, why did Willys choose to use seven slots? Obviously, Ford had tooled up to produce the 9 slot fascia so that numerical design option was off the table. Respectable sources lend heavily in support of the notion that the Jeep was the first vehicle to have been deployed to serve on the soil of all seven continents during its tour of duty in the course of World War II. Having served in seven different theaters of war around the globe certainly deserves a high level of acclaim, or maybe a vertical bar for each? Just as a soldier might return home from his or her military service proudly displaying the medals that declare his bravery and accomplishments, the Jeep would return stateside, to the home it left behind, in the form of a civilian vehicle; always defiantly proud of the places it had been and the triumphs it had achieved. It had changed; it had adapted to its new lifestyle and yet it was fundamentally the same. An automotive model of resiliency.
Now onto halo projector lights. Not only are they illegal by definition under Virginia law and safety inspection regulations, they are just plain stupid looking. Okay now that we have that covered, onto the next thing...
Finally why won’t we install your Rough Country lift kit? Well for one, they ride terrible. There really are differences in the way a lifted Jeep rides when comparing one brand of lift to another. Just as the name implies, they ride rough. Really ROUGH! Now onto some more technical reasons... the geometry of these kits are not correct. How do you lift a Jeep 3 or more inches and not have the ability to correct your caster angles? Death wobble and poor steering/handling characteristics can be introduced in a variety of ways but other than worn ball joints, worn tie rod ends, loose pitman arms and worn track bar bar bushings, the number one reason we see Jeeps with poor handling is that they don’t have enough positive caster in their alignment of the front axle. On a Jeep JL, we like to see 5.5 to 6.1 degrees of positive caster. On a Jeep JK we like to see 5 to 5.5 degrees of positive caster. On a Jeep TJ or LJ, 6-8 degrees of positive caster works really well for eliminating poor steering/handling and the only way to do that is with adjustable control arms.
Have you ever seen a $499 Rough Country kit with adjustable anything? Yeah, neither have we. That’s not to say you can’t add them to the Jeep later but after you piece meal all of the parts together that should have came with a quality lift kit from the start like adjustable upper or adjustable lower control arms, quality shocks, adjustable front (and rear) track bars to center the axles under the Jeep....well you should have just bought a kit with all of those components to start with to save you the headache.
Another major issue with Rough Country lift kits is the fact that they LOVE to use a dropped pitman arm and a bolt-on front raised track bar bracket on their taller lift kits. We have seen their pitman arms work their way loose over time and cause death wobble and very sloppy steering which we consider borderline too dangerous to drive. Along with the dropped pitman arm they couple that with a bolt-on raised front track bar bracket. This is a big no-no in a solid front axle steering setup as the track bar takes a significant amount of force since it's a steering axle. The track bar bracket is best suited if it's welded in place. We do high steer kits on Jeeps all the time however when we do a high-steer kit, we weld an Artec or Barnes 4WD HD raised front track bar mount in place and use the OEM pitman arm to achieve the best angles possible for your steering geometry.
While we don’t want to bash others tastes in Jeep customizing, we do want to live by a certain set of standards. Look at these as our guiding principles, if you will. We want our builds to stand apart from the rest of them and use top quality components while not inheriting a look as if our Jeeps were imported by the dozens in a sea container from China. #EndRant