Free shipping on all orders $40 and over

Entry Level Jeep LJ Build for Hitting Off-Road Trails

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, also known as the Jeep LJ, from 2004-2006 has become one of the best platforms to build an off-road rig.  In these years Jeep decided to over this model with 10 inches of additional wheelbase over the standard Jeep Wrangler.  This stretch allowed for 15 inches of more body length allowing for more passenger and cargo space.

It was for those reasons that I couldn’t pass up a trade for a 2004 Jeep LJ Wrangler.

I had posted my 1974 Chevy Squarebody Single Cab Dually for sale and had been receiving a lot of offers to trade.  Most trades were for other classic trucks or cars.  

Then I was sent a description of this 2004 LJ with very low miles of 51,000, clean body and paint, exceptional interior, and all the right modifications for off-road.

Jeep Body Armor

The Jeep still has its factory color paint of Bright Silver Metallic that shows very little wear.  A couple of light scratches would suggest it has been on tight trails getting its share of “desert pinstripes”.

Help protect the body panels from any damage are the GenRight  Warn Industries products bolted onto this rig.  

Tires and Wheels

The perfect tire and wheel combo can be debated around the campfire to no end.  However, every jeep build should start with considering what size tire you intend to run.  This will determine if your build needs to include gears, which most tire upgrades do, upgraded axles, and potentially swapping out your transfer case.  

My Jeep LJ came with 33×12.5-15 Mickey Thompson Baja Boss Tires on 15 inch steel wheels.  Increasing to a 33″ tire is about the maximum I would consider before considering to do a gear change to a lower ratio gear set.


This Jeep came with an entry level lift allowing for the larger tires.  It is sitting on coil springs with an additional 3 inches of lift.  The body of the Jeep has also been raised 1 inch.  This gives more tire clearance but also allows for a transfer case modification.  The transfer case has been moved up higher allowing for more ground clearance in the center bottom section of the under belly.

This best part of all the additions have to be these King Shocks with piggy back reservoirs.  They have been specifically tuned for the Jeep LJ which makes cruising over bumpy roads or small whoops much smoother.



The heart of this super clean rig ready for a build is the low mileage, 51,000 at the time I bought it, 4.0L in-line 6-cylinder.  This engine has been one of the best that Jeep has put into production.  Its a workhorse that seems to just keep going after continious beatings on the trail.

My Jeep LJ is an automatic which I am ok with.  Most people would opt for a the 6-speed manual transmission but they can be hard to come by.  Behind the transmission is Jeeps standard New Process transfer case with 2.72 gear reduction.

All LJs came with a Dana 44 rear axle standard even though it was an option for the TJ of this time.  Jeep wanted to make sure the axle in the LJ could handle the additional curb weight due to the larger body and frame size.  This Jeep came with a Dana 35 front axle which does the job, but would be a place to start drivetrain upgrades.

Exterior Touches

In most older vehicles one of the big differences you can tell from modern ones is lighting.  Jeeps with round headlights came with a 7″ standard headlight.  This style of headlight can be found in chevy squarebody trucks and even motorcycles like Harley Davidson.

These Vision X headlights make a big difference daily driving when I’m out at night.  It’s also got a set of budget off-road lights mounted to the windshield that put out plenty of light for the night runs on the trail.

Having a factory hard top is an option when purchasing a Jeep.  This top shows very little on and off use and is in excellent shape.  Having a hard top makes for the drive down the highway much quieter.  It has also protected the interior with no signs of fading in the plastic, fabric, or carpet.

Clean Interior

Stock Dash, Rough Country Seat Covers, JBL Bluetooth, JBL 8″ Subwoofer, Husky Floor Liners

Finding a Jeep with an interior this clean gives so much confidence that you have the right platform for trail build.  The interior has remained the same as it did from the factory.  The original roll bar and padding, speakers, dash, and carpet remain is great condition.  What was added just increased the function of this rig.

The front buckets and rear bench seats have Rough Country seat covers.  The dash still has the factory radio, though it is no longer hooked up to the stereo.  Now you control the JBL speakers using a JBL bluetooth antenna from your phone that directly hooks up to the aftermarket amplifier. 

Leave a Reply