What Lift Fits?

What lift fits?

I realize there's going to be a lot of contention about this one, but I wanted to include some generally-accepted info about the various Jeep models and what size tires will fit.

One thing you need to realize is that the marked size on the tire is often not the actual size of the mounted tire. Additionally, varying rim widths will change the mounted height as well. Typically, a wider rim will shorten the overall height of the tire by fractions of an inch. My focus will be on what tire size will fit and allow good performance off-road. Typically, one size larger can be used on-road but may rub severely off-road.

Most Jeeps are actually good off-road vehicles in stock form; you don't have to put a mega-lift and large tires on to enjoy some excellent four-wheeling capability. I wheeled my 89 XJ stock all over Arizona for years. That's the best way to learn the vehicle and how to drive it anyway; once you learn what you can't do it's easier to spend money on what you need and it helps make you a better driver anyway. NASCAR drivers don't start at the top, running in Winston Cup races; they had to move up through the ranks from dirt tracks and such, all the while learning the subtleties of racing. Four wheeling is the same way. While you can throw $50,000 at a new rig and make it 'bulletproof' that means nothing if the driver doesn't know how to actually drive the rig. This damages not only the vehicle, but more importantly can ruin the trail and even lead to it being shut down from damage, real or perceived.
Jeep XJ Cherokee (1984-2001) General Guidelines
Lift Height Tire Size
Stock Height up to 235/75R15
Up_country (stock 1" lift) 30x9.50
2" Budget Boost 30x9.50
3" 31x10.50
4.5" 32s, some 33s with trimming and reduced backspace wheels
5.5" 33s, trimming also likely needed

I've seen this question a few times and decided to come up with a short answer.
How much Body Lift can I put under a Jeep Cherokee?

  • Short answer: None.
  • Long (and Explanatory) answer: Take a look under the Cherokee, you may notice the frame and body are one piece. To cut down weight, the XJ uses a 'uniframe' design that brings our weight down comparable with the Wrangler full-frame Jeeps.

Want bigger tires? It's time for new axles and other modifications. In 96, the NV231 transfer case had a redesigned output shaft. The new design prevented leaks when you were forced to remove the rear shaft, but introduced a design more prone to vibrations when lifted. See my slip-yoke eliminator writeup for more info. Many Up-Country models with a 1" lift from the factory had vibrations, and a TSB was performed to add a transfer-case drop to the Jeep.

Because of that change in 1996, XJ owners who install aftermarket lifts almost always have vibrations, and I can't tell you how many people I have run across who have spent countless hours trying to eliminate the vibrations through numerous means. The one fix that always works is a slip-yoke eliminator (SYE) and longer driveshaft. Of course, for every nine Jeepers that ultimately fix their vibes with an SYE, there's always one joker who doesn't need to use an SYE. More power to 'em, but you have to watch out for the length of the driveshaft as a problem then. The stock XJ driveshaft is fixed-length (see images) and a lift will reduce the amount of splined surface in contact between the output shaft and the slipyoke. Under some power, it's more possible to twist an axleshaft that way.

SYEs not only reduce the length of the output shaft and therefore reduce the leverage on the internal bearings, but the reduced length is made up by the longer driveshaft. This longer driveshaft reduces operating angles on the u-joints, extending their service life.

Many people ask, "How big of a lift kit do I need to fit a tire of a certain size?" I checked some manufacturers' sites and got the basic information on various lift kits. Teraflex S4T kit: 4 inches of lift, can accomodate up to 35" tires S3T kit: 3 inches of lift, up to 33" tires 3 inch TJ lift: no tire size specified 2 inch TJ lift: no tire size specified Rubicon Express TJ 4.5" lift plus 1" body lift: up to 35" tires TJ 3" standard or Superflex kit: up to 33"x12.5" tires TJ 2" kit: 31x10.5" tires Skyjacker Tire sizes not listed ARB/Old Man Emu Suspension systems are not advertised as a lift kit, though they provide one or two inches of lift Rancho TJ Rockcrawler 2.5 inch lift: up to 33 inch tires TJ 2 1/2 inch suspension kit: up to 32 inch tires Superlift 4" lift system: Tire sizes not listed, but the page shows a vehicle with 33" tires; another catalog I have shows this kit with a 2" body lift and 35" tires 1.75" lift: Tire sizes not listed Trail Master 4" lift kit: Up to 32 inch tires 2" lift kit: Up to 33 inch tires (note: this looks wrong; it seems obvious to me that a 4" lift would take bigger tires than a 2" lift)
Jeep TJ (1997-2006) General Guidelines
Lift Height Tire Size

e-mail Jim
created: Jan 22, 2004

Modified June 6, 2008