I’ve had a few people ask me how I cleared my 35’s, so I figured I’d make a post about it. I am by no means an expert, and started this project not knowing a whole lot, learning as I went. I think that gives me a unique perspective. I am a very novice welder and fabricator as well,
- A few things before we get into it.Lift does not clear larger tires. This is a common misconception, but the purpose of a suspension lift is to give more suspension travel and better approach/departure angles. The suspension still flexes and when it does, clearance from the lift is negated.
- Before you start, adjust your LCA all the way forward for the most body clearance right off the bat; aka less cutting. This can be done by turning the forward cam bolt all the way inwards (shown below) and the rear camber bolt all the way outwards, opposite of the picture below.
- This will change your camber, so SPC adjustable control arms are recommended to bring camber back into spec. Camber an be adjusted on the UCA by sliding the large nut on the top of the arms.
- If you dont have SPC arms, you may have a hard time getting the maximum clearance with the LCA and staying in alignment.
- Nobody had any clue what SPC setting gives the most clearance, but after testing and a ton of research, I found that setting F or G on the SPC arms will give you lower caster but the most clearance (G gives a ton of camber so I stuck to F).
- As your suspension flexes, your tire will move upward at the angle of your caster, so a higher degree of caster will actually bring the tire closer to the body when you flex.
- I have 1.25 in spacers. These increase the radius within which you turn, meaning you'll cut more with spacers than without. Without the spacers I would rub on the upper control arm and possibly the frame though. A healthy wheel offset (between -10 and -38 or so) MAY be a happy medium. If you're in that camp, I'd recommend messing around with it before adding spacers. If you clear the frame and the UCA, you'll have to cut less.
To start, you’ll want to take your coilover out and disconnect your sway bar end links. This will allow you to use a jack under the lower control arm and easily raise it to full bump stop.
Before cutting, go inside the vehicle and take off the trim panels under the dash. You’ll need to remove the door sill panel first, then the panel under the dash. Behind that panel will be a lot of electronics and a control unit for 4WD (on the drivers side) assuming you have it. I disconnected everything possible and pulled the rest away from the sheet metal to avoid cutting it. You can use a bungee cord to pull the wiring back as well. Leave the key in the ignition so you can turn the wheels by hand as well.
Now for the repetitive part. With the suspension at full bump stop, turn the wheel as far as possible towards the firewall, cut what it touches, and repeat. Over and over and over again. The first side is much worse than the second, since you have no template.
If you get to the end and you’re hitting the body mount, your LCA isn’t adjusted enough.
Depending on what bump stop you’re running, you may be into the fender at the top of the tire, especially if you have flares. I chose to just get some extended bump stops instead of cutting almost all of the flare off at the top. You can also just extend the stock bumpstop up to about half an inch with washers, which should be enough to clear the fender flare. Below is a picture of how far I needed to extend my bump to clear the flare at the top.
To close it up, use 16 gauge steel plate. Theres plenty of methods to cut and bend the steel to shape, depending on the equipment you have. I had nothing but an angle grinder, some cardboard, and a sharpie. I used the cardboard to make a template and just started cutting pieces.
In retrospect, I used too many small pieces on the drivers side, but did a bit better on the passenger side with larger pieces. It doesn't bother me personally, and my welding ability was severely lacking at the time, but it got back together in one piece.
Before welding, make sure your wiring is securely out of the way. Then, place a wet towel inside between the area you are welding and anything flammable. You’ll inevitably set something on fire a bit now and then, so don't be too worried about it. A little fire never hurt anybody.
The existing firewall material is super thin, so it’s difficult to weld the plate to it. I found very small tacks worked well, but make sure to let it cool in between. You do NOT need to weld every inch of it. To seal it up, use seam sealer on everything. Do it from the outside first, then go inside the vehicle and inspect it. It’ll be easy to see where you still have gaps because light will shine through. I sealed it from both the outside and the inside. Seam Sealer is legit. I haven’t noticed any difference in noise between the stock wells and my altered wells.
I had originally left the area that opens into the door sill open, but I noticed when driving on the highway a certain way air can go into that area and produce some noise. I’m going to DIY some kind of fender liner to cover that area and would suggest doing the same.
Once you've got it seam sealed, I primed and painted the area with rubberized undercoating from Rustoliem to prevent rust.
Notice much less plates involved with the passenger side.
Now to clearance the front. On the driver’s side, you’ll see a canister in the wheel well. This is a vacuum canister for the 4WD system. I moved it completely out of the wheel well and into the engine bay by the brake booster. Eventually I may make a bracket, but it fits really nicely in that area. On an 01-02 with the updated brake booster it may not fit as nicely.
On the passenger side you’ll have to relocate the windshield washer resivour. Scarab Off-road makes a relocation kit, or you can just DIY one. Austin’s Off-road garage has a great video on the relocation. It can be found here
On both sides, you’ll have to trim the fender a bit using the same turn and cut method. I would extend the bump stop first so you don’t cut more than necessary. I was able to keep the outside of the flares looking stock, which was my original goal. With extended bumps I kept off of the top of the flare and just had to cut a minimal amount from the flare.
With extended bumps in the rear you should clear without modification. With a body lift, you may clear with stock bumps. I didn't rub in the rear on stock bumps but would have been into the fender/flare close to full bump. I also have 1.25in spacers, so without those you may be able to tuck them depending on offset. Stance over everything though.
Finally, just out everything back together. Now would be a great time to add some beefy sway bar end links, like the Overland Custom Design ones we sell here.
I added some new King coilovers and the spacers mentioned above.
This project took me a few weeks as I was building headlights most of the time. It's definitely doable in a weekend if you really put your mind to it. This was my finished product and I think it was worth it.