Most 4x4s will go surprisingly far off the pavement in showroom-stock form, but if you’re serious about wheeling, you need to build your rig into something more.
Here are five parts you’ll need as you start building the off-roader of your dreams.
If you’re going to take your rig off-road, the first thing you ought to do is get it lifted. Some 4x4s have decent clearance off the showroom floor, but more altitude gives you more ground clearance, plus it gives you the room you need to fit larger wheels and tires. This is a bit of a Pandora’s box, as once you lift the truck, you’ll probably need to change other suspension bits as well — but a good lift kit should be your first step.
Shop for a lift kit for your truck here.
Nothing can ruin a good day of off-roading like having your vehicle eviscerated by a rock. Before you do any serious wheeling, you’ll want to fit skid plates to protect your vehicle’s sensitive spots: Engine and transmission oil pans, fuel tanks, and steering gear at the very least. Buy your skid plates for strength, not looks; after all, they aren’t going to look very good once they start doing their job.
Find the right skid plate for your truck here.
Now that you’ve got some room under the fenders, it’s time to fill up that space with new tires — something that will give you better grip than the mud-and-snows your truck came with from the factory. Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with a particular brand; do your research, ask around on forums, and find some rubber that works well on the type of terrain you want to conquer.
Shop for a proper set of off-road tires here.
Your ride’s stock wheels may work perfectly well in stock form, but there are good reasons to choose new wheels once you start making upgrades: You might need a different offset to fit larger tires (and so they clear your brakes and rotors), or you might want a smaller-diameter wheel so you can fit a tire with a bigger sidewall for additional traction, or you might just want something that looks good. Pick you priorities, do you research, and shop away.
Find a shiny new set of wheels for your SUV here.
Once you start adventuring, it’s kind of nice to be able to find your way back. A GPS unit — either hand-held or built into the vehicle (stereo or mirror) — should be considered a must-have, especially considering how inexpensive they are. If you plan to go way off the beaten path, consider a GPS-enabled satellite communications unit as well, so you can send out an SOS if things go pear-shaped outside of cell phone range.
Get a proper GPS unit here. And don’t leave the beaten path without it.
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