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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, everyone. I have a 1998 Dodge Durango, which I would like to make more off road capable. As of now, everything is stock. I would like to give it more clearance and larger tires, but avoid anything that would be too strenuous on the current engine and transmission. I would like to keep all upgrades under $4k, and I would also like to do everything over an extended period of time, so prioritizing your suggestions would be very helpful! Thanks in advance for the help! I'm completely clueless!
 

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Personally I would start with a set of gears and lockers. You would be surprised how much more you can get through with a good set of tires and lockers than one lifted without lockers and tires.
 

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They aid in traction. They are located in the differentials and help direct power. For example a vehicle with out a set of lockers will only leave one line on the street during a burn out. A vehicle with sufficient power and a good set of lockers will leave 2. Most of your "4X4" vehicles when you get them in the mud won't spin all 4 wheels but maybe one on the front and one on the back since most people will lift and put larger tires. If you start with lockers and lower gears you will be ready for the lift. I am one to get all my ducks in a row. I would go with a Detroit in the back and a trutrac in the front dif. Then drop my gearing accordingly to the tire size that I would want to put. Then find my lift and tires. After that would be the fun part of installing everything at once. At that point I would focus on intake, exhaust, programming...heads, cams, tranny, etc.

Or go the other way around and do performance then suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Okay. Thanks. Also, should I regear if I am planning on keeping the stock tire size? And how would regearing affect the Durango's highway performance? Most of my driving is done on the highway, so I would like to keep it somewhere in between, where it will have both highway and offroad capabilities, although I know there will be some trade offs involved.
 

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If you are keeping the stock tire size or maybe going to a 33, stock gears would work for you. If you were to lower the gears with stock tires you would have lots of low toque and crap mpg on the highway. Its when you put say 35"+ tires that a regear would help recoupe your loss of low end torque and bring your oversized tires closer to a stock gearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So I think I've found the kit I would like to have installed on my Durango. I am thinking of buying a Tuff Country 5.5" suspension lift kit and having a suspension shop do the installation for me. Then I'm considering putting 33" A/Ts on. Before I do this though, I'm wondering if that much lift would make it too susceptible to rolling? Would the larger tires offset the heightened center of gravity? How much mpg would I sacrifice city/hwy, as this is my only car? And finally, what would be a rough estimate of the installation costs? I know it's a lot of questions, I just really want to take everything into consideration before I make such a large purchase, especially since I am currently a minimum wage slave, this is a huge investment for me.
 

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with a 5.5" I think you should be able to squeeze a 35 on there. But any time you lift a vehicle you are changing the center of gravity and you are more susceptible for a roll over. As for cost of an install prices vary with location. You would have to call one of your local 4x4 shops and see what they charge. I am a DIY guy and would lift it under my garage. I actually have already lifted a 1st gen Durango already with minimal cutting. And it was a Tough Country lift with a 3" body on 37s. But this Durango we did it right with gearing, mild engine guild and full tranny rebuild. I am actually considering buying it from my buddy just to have a toy lol.

Sorry for the tangent but your fuel mileage will go down. You will be more susceptible of rolling and I have no clue on install costs. If you were in S Louisiana I would be more than happy to get my hands dirty when I got off of this boat. Good Luck and if you got anything else with your build you got a question about don't be scared to ask.
 

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A 5.5" lift will definately let you put 35's under it. 33's fit with a 3" lift. Exactly how much off-roading do you do? I think lockers are a bit extreme for a starting point if you're only going to do the occasional beach run and small mud holes.
If you're planning on more severe trails then lockers might be warranted. I've found that the lighter weight of my D allows me to get in and out of places a full size Ram can't.
You'll be surprised how much of a difference more agressive tires can make.
 
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