As we move deeper into spring and the weather takes a turn for the better, local Jeep and off-road enthusiasts will be bringing their four-wheel-drive vehicles out of hibernation and flocking to area trails and backwoods for some fun in the mud.
Getting onto the trails or off road — whether as a newbie to the activity or a grizzled veteran of high-riding high jinks — means fixing up your vehicle — notably installing a lift kit raising its profile from 3 inches to up to 10 inches above normal.
For those seeking a high-rise lift to their vehicle, that's where a specialized company like Meridian Off Road Center on New Castle Road comes into play.
Rob Grinnik, owner of Meridian Off Road, said his company does all manner of “souping” up Jeeps and other four-wheel-drive vehicles, including lift kits, custom accessories and other modifications to help someone have off-road fun.
“We do Jeeps, trucks, everything related to trucks,” Grinnik said. “Our primary thing is suspensions and lift kits.”
Grinnik said his company customizes Jeeps, trucks, and other vehicles, making them either usable for both street driving as well as off-road, or only usable for off-road adventures. Pennsylvania law requires bumpers to be no more than 30 inches from the ground.
“If it's a new Jeep, what we do the majority of the time is a 3-inch suspension lift and 35-inch wheels,” Grinnik explained. “That's really the standard. You can take it on a trail and on the street. The drivability is there.”
Grinnik said while the standard lift kit raises a vehicle 3 inches, there are more extreme levels such as raising a vehicle 6, 8 or even 10 inches above normal. However, anything above the 3 inch standard requires more work, technical changes and different parts, such as drive shaft and other components.
“The higher you go, the more components you have to replace,” Grinnik added. “On pickups, 6 inches is the rule. That keeps you legal bumper-wise. We don't do a lot of 8 or 10 inch lifts; it's not street legal. It's just a tall, tall truck.”
The benefits of the suspension lifting are simple for off-road enthusiasts, Grinnik said.
“When you lift the suspension, you get frame clearance,” he said. “You're off trail; you've got obstacles — rocks, logs, whatever.”
Whatever a customer decides to do with their vehicle, it is usually not going to be simple and will involve complex and technical mechanical work, Grinnik added.
“There's a lot to think about,” he said. “It's not just a simple, 'I'm going to get wheels and tires.'”