You have decided you are going to lift your Jeep Cherokee (or you already have, and are looking for tires). You know which lift type you are going to go with, you know which brand, and you have a decent idea how many inches it’ll raise the Jeep. What you don’t know is what tires to run.
That’s where I come in.
This article is meant to be a general guide only. Most lift manufacturers include the recommended tire size for each kit or system, but depending on your plans, those recommendations can be modified. Read on to see why.
In general, a one or two-inch lift is nothing more than adding coil spacers (pucks) and extended shackles most times. Doing this will allow you to run larger tires, technically, but probably no bigger than 29s or 30s unless you trim fenders, as well.
One popular lift size for the Jeep Cherokee is 3.5″. It’s a great kit and it rides really nice and will allow for a 31-inch tire with no fender trimming. If you trim things a little bit, 32s or even 33s are possible, but realize you’ll have to cut the front and tuck the rear wheel wells.
The 4.5″ kits are by far the most popular lift size for the Jeep Cherokee. It’s a wonderful all-around size that will allow for 33″ tires comfortably. If you disconnect your sway bars and do any real wheeling, I still suggest trimming the fenders so the 33s don’t hit the body when the suspension flexes. Many who go with the 4.5″ kits and 33″ tires change their axle gearing to 4.56:1 to keep the power band and speedometer where they need to be.
5 inches or more
Some companies, such as Rubicon Express and Rough Country, offer 5″ and higher lift kits for the Jeep Cherokee. The Rubicon Express 5.5″ is really popular, as is the Rough Country 6″ kit. Once you are up in the six-inch or higher range, 35″ tires become a reality. Just remember that the stock axles may have a tough time with the big rubber and that the stock gearing will need to be changed. 4.56 gears are popular with 35″ tires, and you can even step up to 4.88s if you trail your Jeep Cherokee hard.
One way to reach big height is to install a 4.5″ kit (for instance) and then install 2″ coil spacers in the front and extended shackles in the rear. This will lift your Jeep Cherokee approximately 6.5″ to 7″ higher than stock on paper. In the real world, it’ll probably be more like eight or nine inches higher depending on year and spring sag.
The author’s personal Jeep Cherokee sits on a 4.5″ Rusty’s kit in combination with the aforementioned 2″ coil pucks and extended shackles. It rides on 35″ tires and has 4.88 gears front and rear. The front Dana 30 is beefed up with chromoly axle shafts and a locker, and the rear Dana 44 has the same modifications.
Be advised: You can install a lift kit with a decent tool set and some know-how in the driveway but if you don’t know what you are doing, ask for help. Join NAXJA (North American Jeep Cherokee (XJ) Association at www.NAXJA.org) and post in the appropriate forums that you need assistance for the lift. Alternatively, you can pay a shop to install it but that is going to cost big bucks.
I hope this article helps a few of you get a better idea of what to expect as far as what tires you can run with what lift kits. Keep in mind that if you trim the fenders, you can always stuff bigger rubber onto the rims, and don’t be afraid to ask for help with that, either; there are a lot of guys who can trim fenders almost in their sleep.
Have fun and wheel safely!