2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test


2012 Jeep Wrangler: RTI Ramp Trip #3 (Stabilizer Bar Disconnected)

January 24, 2012

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Our 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport did not come equipped with a fancy pants electronic front stabilizer bar disconnect-o-matic system. To get one of those you need to step up to the Rubicon.

A few minutes with a pair of wrenches will take care of that. The main problem with this approach is remembering to reconnect everything before you take it out of low-range and head back onto the pavement. Forgetting to do so could land you in a world of hurt.

As long as one remembers that, the manual stabilizer bar disconnect strategy is a very effective way to increase off-road articulation in rough terrain. But how big is the benefit, exactly?

I grabbed a couple of 18mm wrenches (yes, they're metric) and pointed the Jeep up our RTI ramp to find out.

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The easiest bolt to remove is found at the lower end of the stabilizer link, the end that bolts to the bracket on the front axle tube. The bolt is a bit longer than it needs to be, so a standard-length socket wasn't quite going to work. I probably could have made it work, but this gave me a chance to try out one of my newest wrenches.

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It's a hollow pass-through socket that's externally driven by a special matching ratchet. Craftsman calls this contraption by the name Max Axxes.

The socket is short but utterly hollow. Any extra bolt length sticks right through so there's no need for a separate set of deep sockets. Also, because the socket is short (shorter than a normal one, in fact) I don't have to steady it with my free hand to counteract the sideways torque that can be generated by the very length of a deep socket. Pretty clever -- and effective.

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After the bolt was gone I simply pivoted the link up on its remaining bolt. A tie-wrap is certainly called for, but I didn't bother since I was merely making a quick measurement.

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The good news is the disconnected stab bar allows the left front suspension to bury itself (yellow) in the front bump stop. We're getting everything there is this time -- the stab bar is no longer holding us back.

But farther down things are looking sketchy. The floating stabilizer bar end and the stowed link (blue) are banging into the steering arm. It's doing this because I did not disconnect the other link on the other end of the bar. Strictly speaking, one disconnected link is enough to defeat a stabilizer bar. The problem is the free end wants to droop in lock-step with the opposite side.

In the field I'd solve this by removing both links and tying the bar up high out of the way with tie wraps. Two bolts removed instead of one; no big deal if a serious off-road slog is in the cards.

Or I could install some purpose-made links that have a quick disconnect built into them. Yeah, that's already on our to-do list.

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The view at the right rear looks about the same as before, with the big 33-inch tire crammed neatly into the wheel well. But that front end is looking a bit more dramatic.

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But just how far did our Jeep make it up the ramp? Time to break out the measuring tools.

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I measured wheel lift at 26.75 inches, well over SIX INCHES more than RTI measurement #2.

This works out to 78.2 inches up our 20-degree ramp instead of 59.8 inches. Yowsa.

And the RTI? How does 820 grab you? That's almost 200 points better than the 626 it generated last time out with the same big BFG tires and a working front stabilizer bar.

I expected a big improvement -- 100 points, at least -- but I never suspected it would amount to anything approaching 200 points. Clearly, the pent-up flexibility of our Jeep's live axle front suspension has been unleashed.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,065 miles 

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Jeep Wrangler in VA is:

$139 per month*
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