Old Man Emu (OME) is known the world over for the ride quality and handling of their shocks, springs, and suspension kits. We previously wrote about installing the OMEJK4 kit on Project Overland that you can read here.
Before we delve into the nuances of handling and body roll I first want to talk about tires. Tires can make or break a suspension quicker than I can irritate the Mrs with another parts order. We are currently running Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 tires size 37×12.5×17. (Review) They are extremely sensitive to air pressure and being low a couple of PSI take them from good tires, to ill mannered on road wigglers. This review has taken extra time to write because of this. Several times I started chasing a handling issue only to once again discover it was tire pressure.
We are going to work backwards for this review. I am going to start with the bad and irritating and then spend the rest of the review explaining why it isn’t really that bad or irritating.
The most annoying concern is the boot over the steering dampener won’t stay in place. I tried several ways to get it to stay to no avail. No matter how I tried to get that boot to stay covered it would slide off the shock body. It’s like trying to keep shoes and socks on a small child, short of duct tape and staples they aren’t going to stay on. (We do not advocate duct tape or staples as parenting aids.)
The other concern is using the stock control arms. They are holding up so far but with only a little over 4000 miles on them we will see how often will they need replacing. This is where I start explaining away the issues. The plus side is stock control arms are inexpensive, if they hold up for any decent amount of time they are going to be a cost savings over aftermarket control arms. (That’s 4000 miles with the lift installed.)
Handling and ride quality are different, quality is how smooth and comfortable the suspension is, and handling is cornering, braking, and acceleration.
As expected the on road ride quality is better then stock, there is more plushness over bumps and less jarring of the vehicle. I read all the reviews of the OME parts before we worked with ARB USA to source this lift. Every review talked about how smooth the springs and shocks work together. Not surprising when the test bed for the parts is the Australian outback and OME is sold worldwide. Unlike suppliers who are only in one or two countries the OME parts have to work everywhere. Bumps, washboard, pot holes, or the Maryland sized road ravines are no match for the OME setup.
This go anywhere in any country design idea is another reason the stock control arms make a little more sense. You can source them anywhere Jeep is available; making a repair in the middle of nowhere a lot more plausible.
On road handling is as close to stock as a 4 inch lifted Jeep can be. There is a little more body roll, and of course you are blown around by the wind more, but those are the trade offs you make for additional ground clearance and larger tires. For testing we drove around with the front sway bar disconnected to see how the springs and shocks handled. In most circumstances it was hard to tell the sway bar wasn’t in use. Once you hit higher speeds and quicker maneuvers it became more evident it was disconnected, but for day to day driving the Jeep stayed planted and level. Over time as the springs and shocks wear body roll may get to be more evident, but not many people are driving without their sway bar connected. Truthfully I expected it to wallow from side to side like a wandering behemoth in search of sustenance.
Check out the video below to see the rear suspension in action!
The final verdict will be after the off road review but here is a sampling of our thoughts. For the price that you pay for this lift, $1413.57 , on road prowess alone is not enough to justify the cost. This isn’t for your mall crawler. Get a nice 2 inch spacer lift and slap some 35’s on it to style at the mall for a lot less money. If you desire a lift that can handle any terrain, that offers 4 inches of height, and as good as stock on road handling stay tuned for the next part of our review.
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I really like Old Man Emu sport shocks, I’ve installed one for my Jeep and can say that I gain significant improvement in the controllability that drivers feel.
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