'22 JLR 2.0T build progress/wheeling thread

Remorseless

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So, after about a decade of wheeling my 2012 JKR, I've sold it and picked up a 2022 JLR and am looking forward to starting a new project/build. My intent with this build is to go slower than I did with the JKR and take more time to figure out what mods I need for the wheeling I do, in what order I need to do them, and what kind of balance do I need to strike. In line with this, I intend to spend most of the first year or so with the Jeep wheeling stock to get a feel for what's good and what can be improved. I'm anticipating ending up with a 3-4.5" lift and 37s on beadlocks given my experience with the JKR, but I don't want to rush into it without validating my assumptions.

So, here's the old:

IMG_20201018_131549086_HDR.jpg



And the new:

IMG_20220430_121525041_HDR.jpg


So, what comes first on the mod list? Given that I want to keep stock suspension, and specified MTs from factory, all I am looking to do first is get the Jeep to 500+ miles to do a preliminary fluid change and toss on some skids, and then off to Uwharrie we go!

Obtained Mods

Here I intend to provide a list of mods as I buy them, my thoughts on why I bought them, as well as any install tips/tricks that might pop up for other folks interested in them
  • Skids:
    • Rancho rear LCA/shock skid
      • One of the few things I broke on my JKR was the passenger side shock mount tabs in the LCA/shock bracket. Put my bolt in wrong way around (stud facing middle of the Jeep and not towards tire) and didn't catch the mistake, but a rock sure caught it and ripped the bolt right through the bracket. The LCA bracket tended to be a rock magnet, and I intend to protect it better this go.
      • Installation post here
    • Rusty's frame-side rear LCA skids
      • As with the Rancho skid, this one comes from experience with the JKR. I caught on my rear frame-side LCA bracket a fair amount when I was running 35s, and even with 37s when I'd run harder trails. I intend for these to be sacrificial and protect the stock bracket.
      • Installation post here
    • M.O.R.E. skid system
      • 2.0T 2 door oil pan/trans skid
      • 2 door transfer case skid
      • 2 door gas tank skid
        • The engine oil pan and the trans oil pan are extremely exposed, in my opinion, on the JL and given that I plan to wheel stock, this needed protection. The stock transfer case skid looked strong enough, but didn't cover as much space as I'd like. I also like that M.O.R.E.'s gas stank skid bolts over the stock gas tank skid. My experience with the JKR was that the gas tank skid takes a beating, and while the stock one holds up OK, I'd prefer something thicker. I like that it bolts over the existing skid because honestly I'm too lazy to drop the gas tank or deal with ratchet strapping it in place to get a new skid on. The M.O.R.E. skid is simple bolt on, and I like that.
        • Installation post here
    • Rancho rear diff skid
      • Buddy of mine has been running these on his JK and seems to like them, giving them a go on the JL in lieu of aftermarket diff covers. We'll see if I like them.
      • Not much to this install, but pics of the install are here
    • Rancho front diff skid
      • This unit is just released for the late '21 and up JL/JT without the drain plug on the front axle.
      • Pretty much the same as the rear, install post here
That's it for now, will try to remember to update this as things change.

Potential/Planned Mods

These are things I know are likely to be warranted sooner rather than later before too much evaluation of the stock Jeep is performed.

  • Doors:
    • Mopar Tube Doors
    • Mopar Tube Door Mirror Kit
      • One of the things I loved/hated about my JK were the half doors. The factory half doors were great on nice days, but horrible on wet days. I was constantly fighting water intrusion into the cabin. However, they were great off road. So, I figure I'll just run tube doors on days I wheel. The Mopar tube doors are stupid expensive, but they seem to be about the best quality tube door you can get in terms of fitment. I'll probably just eat the cost and get the Mopar doors.
  • Exhaust:
    • Magnaflow "Rock Crawler" cat back
      • The stock exhaust in the JKs and JLs simply hangs low, especially the muffler. Willing to run the stock system for a while, but I'm fairly certain (judging by its similar location and size to the JK exhaust) that I'm going to beat the hell out of the muffler on the trail. A nice high tuck system seems to be the direction I'll head.
  • Rock rails:
    • Shrockworks frame-mounted sliders
      • Messing around with the Mopar "heavy duty" sliders I am seeing that they flex enough to probably make body contact if you drop the Jeep on them. Shrockworks appears to offer a no-drill frame mount option that seems very stout
  • Ball Joints:
    • Dynatrac HD ball joints
      • Ran the JK version of these for 70k+ miles without needing a rebuild, whereas the factory style ones would go out within just a few wheeling trips. Will run these again on the JL when I go to bigger tires or when the factory joints fail on the stock tires, whichever comes first.
  • Heat Reduction:
    • Poison Spyder Rubicon hood louver
      • I had the AEV vented hood on my JK and found it to be an awesome thing for heat reduction while on the trail. Since the 2.0T runs pretty warm in the JL, figuring these will be a nice option for venting the stock Rubicon hood.
  • Bumper reinforcement
  • Knuckles
    • 68477358AA - Front Knuckle, Right
      68477359AA - Front Knuckle, Left
      • Considering the Mopar steel knuckles when I get to the point of lifting. Would be peace of mind over the aluminum knuckles.

 
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mikem20

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Beautiful! That green and tan top on a 2 door. 🤤
 
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Got the Rancho skids installed this past weekend, and got started painting up the Rusty's skids. Installation was straight forward, minus issues lining up the shock eyelet, but more on that later.

Before removing the axle side LCA bolt, in order to ensure you're not fighting to get the bracket hole/LCA bushing lined up, just pop a jack under the axle casting and snug it up (don't lift the Jeep) and this'll keep the axle from rotating when the LCA is released. Just be sure to release the jack before torquing the LCA bolt to spec to ensure the Jeep is under its own weight when doing final torque on that side, and do one side at a time.

IMG_20220529_124754820.jpg


All told, these skids seem solid and went on relatively easy. Only issue is getting the shock eyelet lined back up when reinstalling the shock. Typically, prying inside the eyelet or underneath the shock end to line up the shock with the mounting holes is all that's required. However, since the Rancho skid design has two tabs, completely surrounding the shock, you end up prying against the skid itself in order to line up the shock, which causes things to misalign themselves, making it a pain in the rear to get the bolt in. I found that by placing the jack underneath the skid and applying pressure to hold it in place, I was eventually able to pry enough to get the bolt started and use a rubber mallet to tap it through. I considered jacking the rear of the Jeep up from the frame to have the shock fully extended and let the raising of the frame raise the eyelet to where it needed to be, however my creative cussing got the bolts in without needing to attempt that.

IMG_20220529_162923161.jpg


I like the protection this skid looks to offer, but the shock install was a pain. Rusty's LCA and shock skid is a single tab design and might be an easier install. Will keep this in mind for the future if this becomes a massive pain when eventually lifting and installing much longer shocks. The reason I think this might be a better design for serviceability/installation is that you can use your prying tool to lift the shock eyelet into place by leveraging against the stock bracket on one side, preventing you from misaligning the skid as you're not pushing against a skid bracket.

Preview of the Rusty's frame-side LCA bracket skids below. One is fully sprayed with a POR15 DTM top coat, the other will get finished soon once work/life allow me the opportunity. Not doing full rust preventative, they're skids, they're consumable and will get beat on. No need to get too fancy.

IMG_20220529_123407585.jpg


IMG_20220529_123418962.jpg


On the passenger side, there is an imminent issue I can see coming up for installing these - the gas tank skid plate will interfere with the bolt that goes through the existing hole in the frame. Getting the nut in there seems as though it will be difficult without bending the skid back with a prybar or something. Even then, I believe the bolt may make contact with the gas tank skid once the skid is released by the prybar after the bolt is installed. Options I'm considering are a thick rubber cap on the butt of the bolt so that it making contact doesn't really matter (with this option, I worry that the bolt will simply wear through the rubber "cap"), buying a shorter bolt (not sure at the moment if there is one that'll be short enough to make it through the frame and engage the threads on the nut but not make contact with the skid), or clearancing the gas tank skid with the dremel (my worry with this option is that the bolt may be long enough to make contact with the gas tank itself once a slot is ground into the skid).

One of those options should work, will get it figured out and follow up in the next install update.
 
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Pile of skid plates waiting to go on. Scheduled a wrenching day with my group on July 17, but might start picking at this before then...

IMG_20220612_144332811.jpg
 


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Well, got the Rusty's frame-side LCA skids put on this past weekend. Passenger side definitely needed a little grinding and is a little jankier than I'm happy with, but will have to do for now.

IMG_20220619_104609257_HDR.jpg


The supplied hardware is nice enough - all grade 8 stuff, nylon lock nuts.

IMG_20220619_104618504.jpg


Again, keeping the axle from moving too much with the jack to keep the LCA from being too misaligned with the bolt hole on the frame side. Stock bracket is fairly light duty.

IMG_20220619_184511928.jpg


Driver's side goes on stupid easy. Yes, I did rattle can the bolt heads - washers pulled up paint off the skid while torquing down, didn't want the bare steel to corrode/rust. Just easier to rattle can over them than it is to be uber precise with it. Skid lines up well and should do good to protect that bracket from getting mangled.



IMG_20220619_114710082.jpg


The passenger side, above, is where the dilemma can be seen - the forward-most bolt used to locate the skid on the bracket and to keep it from rotating around has less than 1/4" clearance between the stock bracket and the gas tank skid.

IMG_20220619_165354408.jpg


Solution was to Dremel back the lip of the gas tank skid to clear a low-profile 1/2-13 nylon lock nut. Gas tank is close enough to the skid I wanted to clearance as little as possible, even though a nut with no washer is less than ideal - fortunately all this bolt does is locate the skid and prevent it from flopping around. That skid may be thin, but it's hard steel. Chewed through 3 Dremel grinding bits - although they did have to be narrow bits in order to fit in the space.

IMG_20220619_170302785.jpg


Cleaned it up with a bit of rattle can to cover the bare steel.

IMG_20220619_173952269.jpg


Nut now barely clears the skid, just a few thousandths really - but clearance is clearance and she fit. Packed it full of thread locker, should hold.

IMG_20220619_174009185.jpg


The other part of the workaround is to stack washers beneath the bolt head for this bolt - it's an odd sized bolt, like 4-3/4", and if you're hitting this issue you really need like a 4-1/4" bolt. Nobody carries a 4-1/4" 1/2-13 grade 8 bolt in your standard hardware stores. So, stack washers we do to shorten it up so it holds tight. You can order a 4-1/4" bolt and I might do so if this gets hung up on stuff or bothers me too much, but for now it's in and holding tight.

Another option may be starting with a stubby 1" or 1-1/2" bolt inserted from the inside of the bracket and through the outside hole with the nut on the outside instead of the inside, or a stubby bolt threaded into a flag nut where the flag sticks out the front of the bracket.

Probably going to send this info to Rusty's - either the clearances between the bracket and skid are different on a 4 door (everyone seems to be oriented towards 4 doors these days), or this is one of those rolling changes Jeep has made with the 21's/22's, or it's just a Jeep-to-Jeep variation in clearance. Either way, skids are on, but something's up with passenger side clearance.
 
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Nothing major this weekend, just installed the rear Rancho diff skid. Buddy of mine likes them on his JK and figured I'd give them a go and see if I like them. Waiting on Rancho to release one for the fronts on the '22s with the modified casting to do the front.

IMG_20220626_130020944.jpg


IMG_20220626_130033583.jpg
 
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No issues mounting the Rancho rear skid? I noticed on their instructions it only says 18-20 Jeep JLs are compatible. Just wondering before I order one myself!
 
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No issues mounting the Rancho rear skid? I noticed on their instructions it only says 18-20 Jeep JLs are compatible. Just wondering before I order one myself!

No issues, bolted right up to the stock rear D44. I've even got the rear axle without drain plug and no issues.
 

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Nice pics, info and links.
 


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Nothing major this weekend, just installed the rear Rancho diff skid….

IMG_20220626_130020944.jpg
When you install this rear diff skid is there enough pressure from the top bolts that oil doesn’t leak out when you have to remove the lower bolts to install the skid? Or do you have to drain, install skid & bolts then refill the oil?
 
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When you install this rear diff skid is there enough pressure from the top bolts that oil doesn’t leak out when you have to remove the lower bolts to install the skid? Or do you have to drain, install skid & bolts then refill the oil?
I did the cover bolts first to help hold things in place to do the pinion strap bolts. No oil leakage whatsoever, the factory gasket holds pretty well for not being RTV.
 
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Well, interesting weekend. The wife and I ended up catching the 'vid and so I had to cancel my wrenching day with my boys. However, our symptoms were super mild so she and I tackled the skid install without the boys. Went well, but was a long day under the Jeep and by the end of it our symptoms were kicking in hard. Either way, here's the write up:

IMG_20220717_094906231.jpg


Gas tank skid:

https://mountainoffroad.com/collections/skid-plates/products/jeep-jl-gas-tank-skid-plate-for-2-door

The install here was easy enough, it's just a heavy sucker. Definitely recommend having a second set of hands and a free floor jack or two to help with holding and maneuvering. If you're like me nothing is ever as straightforward as it should be, and your gas tank skid may shift once the OEM bolts are out of the skid. This can give the M.O.R.E. bolts a tough time bolting up. Pro tip here is to bolt up the M.O.R.E. skid using the OEM bolts you removed instead of the M.O.R.E. supplied bolts, as the OEM bolts have a tapered tip that help line everything up and shift the skid back where it needs to be. Then, one-by-one replace the OEM bolts with the M.O.R.E. bolts using your blue Loctite. The only issue I ran across with this install was that the rear crossmember about halfway down the gas tank had an approximately 1/4" gap between it and the OEM gas tank skid. A few stacked washers solved this and tightened everything up.

IMG_20220717_123350522.jpg


A little hard to see in the pic, but the M.O.R.E. skid is beneath the crossmember, which is sandwiched between the M.O.R.E. skid and the OEM skid. There's a bolt that runs through the M.O.R.E. skid, through the crossmember, and into the OEM skid. Just needed a spacer to tighten everything up, no big deal.

Transfer case skid:

https://mountainoffroad.com/collect...s/jeep-jl-transfer-case-skid-plate-for-2-door

This install was super straightforward and no issues whatsoever. Just make sure to install this skid loosely before you install the engine skid. There are two bolts that this skid shares with the engine skid, so you'll need to make sure to leave those out when installing the engine skid.

Engine/trans skid:

https://mountainoffroad.com/collect...l-turbo-2018-current-1?variant=40587980505199

This was mostly straightforward, just a little trouble with the driver's side bolt through the motor mount horn. The bolt-to-bracket-to-frame fit was super tight and had to be threaded through the powder coat on the M.O.R.E. bracket. Not a big deal, just a bit of a pain in a super tight spot. Recommend a ratcheting box wrench for this bolt, really hard to get a regular ratchet in there.

Overall thoughts:

This system ticks a few nice boxes for my use case - I like the option to revert back to stock skids by just dropping the skids and putting the OEM bolts back in. This does mean this system is a pure weight addition, which is something I try and avoid, but it's 3/16" steel instead of 1/4" like most of the other systems, so it's not entirely as horrible as it could be, but it's still not great in terms of keeping weight down. It's also a simple enough driveway install.

Build construction is good, and bolt quality is OK. The slide washers are awesome at first glance, but time will tell on how they hold up. Coverage is pretty good, but the stock skids weren't awful to begin with. Once the Jeep is lifted, I am considering keeping only the engine/trans skid in place and removing the others - but time will tell on this one.

IMG_20220717_152922210.jpg


IMG_20220717_152928574.jpg
 

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Very well thought out build. Thanks for the pictures too, they certainly help.
 
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Finally got our schedule aligned with my wheeling buddy's and get to go wheeling this weekend, just counting down the minutes. I've missed our day trips to Uwharrie, we usually go once a month-ish during open season and I haven't been since last October or November, so I'm jonesing. Uwharrie's not an overly hard trail system - a few lines on my normal route I may avoid since I'll probably get hung up being on stock suspension, but not that bad. Wife's insistent that she be my spotter for the first time out with it, so at least I'll have a good co-pilot. For those familiar with Uwharrie, we usually run Wolf's Den > Falls Dam > Dickey Bell > Rocky Mtn Loop > Back of Daniel and my goal is follow the normal route like I did in my JKR. Nothing overly hard (we don't run the front of Daniel super often, it's always getting so rutted out when people run it when it's wet, though it's also not too difficult, just got to pick good lines) but enough to make a day trip worth it (Dickey Bell is my favorite trail, enough technical to be engaging, but also very forgiving with line choice). Goal is to hit Uwharrie often and possibly Windrock a few times while stock, to help gather good data about how I want to set it up in the future.

Got bored and pulled the bumper caps off in preparation for the trip. Dig the look of the OEM steel bumper in its stubby config. Jury's still out on the rear bumper - dig the clean look, but we'll see how it holds up if it gets dragged. Still eyeing those Metalcloak reinforcements for that.

IMG_20220808_191300137.jpg

 
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