Off-roading is a hobby that can be done in many different ways. Whether you’re looking to do some light off-roading, extreme off-roading, or just want to improve your gas mileage on the road this article will help guide you through the best modifications for your truck.
For those of you who are new to this sport and don’t know where to start let me give you a quick rundown on what each modification does.
The best off-road modifications are the ones that make your car look cool. For instance, you can add a big set of tires to raise your ride height and give it some extra ground clearance. Other popular mods include lifting kits, roof racks, winches, and skid plates. The sky is the limit when it comes to making an awesome off-roader!
What are the best ways to modify my car for off-road driving? There are a variety of options available but one of our personal favorites is adding a lift kit or suspension system with bigger tires. These will allow for increased ground clearance and also provide greater traction on dirt trails or other slippery surfaces. You may also want to consider installing roof racks.
For starters, there are lift kits that allow your vehicle to travel over obstacles with ease by raising them up higher than they normally would go. This will also increase the clearance so if there is an obstacle coming up it won’t hit anything underneath like engine parts or oil pan etc.
Anytime something is done to a truck or SUV with off-road performance in mind, it’s an off-road modification. These modifications can be as basic as bigger tires and recovery equipment, to extremely complicated snorkels and multi-link suspension systems. The following list of modifications includes some of the most common off-road modifications, as well as some we’d like to see more often.
All Terrain Tires, Mud Tires, Mud Terrain Tires
Over-sized tires – Bigger is better, but only when the additional size doesn’t negatively affect how well the truck performs in other areas. Though we at Four Wheeler Network usually frown upon excessive tire rubbing and fender trimming, we appreciate a mod that provides for the use of oversized tires.
It goes without saying that upgraded tires are an essential first piece of kit for any aspiring off-road enthusiast — not only do they provide a more burly look for your ride, they also come with a surprising amount of positive reinforcement overstock offerings.
A more aggressive off-road tire means that you’ll have much better traction on smooth surface obstacles and even more so on grippy, contrasting surfaces like notched rock and gnarled wood. Aside from better climbing and negotiating capabilities, your vehicle will also enjoy an expansive ride capability with less chance of mid-trip tire failure.
Perhaps the biggest killjoy during an off-road excursion comes at the expense of cheap, flimsy rubber — but beefier tread lugs, improved stress ratings, and tailored tread types will ensure that you’re prepared for the specific terrain you’re looking to dominate.
Just remember, size doesn’t necessarily matter as much here — even if you utilize the same size tire as your stock offering but with a tailored off-road layout, your vehicle will fare much better than it did before when the pavement ends.
A taller tread will undoubtedly give you higher ground clearance, translating into a more capable ride, but you don’t need to overshoot what your stock suspension can handle, just yet.
Read about tires in detail:
- What Is The Most Aggressive All Terrain Tire?
- What Is The Best Size Tire For A 4 Inch Lift On A Truck
Steel wheels are a great, inexpensive alternative to normal alloys that can withstand the pressures put against them under high-stress off-roading. Steel wheels usually come in very minimalistic designs and can most commonly be seen on police vehicles, which often favor them for their durability against the elements.
While they may detract from appearance, steel wheels offer greatly improved functionality in any off-road circumstance over that of a normal set of wheels.
Steel is a metal alloy composed of mainly iron, but may also contain carbon, which is what gives it its hardness. The most common type of steel used in off-road wheels is 1045 steel or 4140 Chromoly steel. This alloy is similar to that of cold-rolled steel but has an addition of Molybdenum, which gives it added hardness.
Whilst durability is the primary advantage, steel wheels are also very strong and lightweight, with some being up to three times lighter than aluminum alloy rims of a similar size. The reduced weight of the rim allows the tire to have more grip on the road or trail it’s traveling over, making them ideal for high-speed driving, especially on sand dunes.
This is all thanks to the alloy’s structure; steel is cheap and easy to manufacture into complex shapes with good tolerances, which allows for intricate designs that would be hard to achieve with normal casting or forging methods. The benefit of this type of production is fully realized when it comes to weight, where steel rims can be up to three times lighter than their aluminum counterparts of equal size.
Steel has proven time and time again that it is a legitimate option when looking at an upgrade for your vehicle’s wheels. It offers great advantages in weight reduction, strength, durability, and functionality over other types of alloy wheels it may come into competition with.
So next time you are in the market for a set of wheels, be sure to give steel rims some serious consideration!
Read about wheels in detail:
Suspension And Bushings
If you’re headed off-road, changing your suspension is an undeniable modification that will need to happen at one point or another — and it’s often the first step drivers take in their quest to outfit their stock vehicle with a newly acquired, aggressive look.
Traditional spring and hardware setups are tested in a factory for street and road use, which means that outdoor trail-running capabilities are drastically undervalued by the original manufacturer.
In order to remedy this, aftermarket manufacturers that are primarily focused on the increase of a vehicle’s off-road capabilities have developed a number of upgradable packages that blend custom-machined parts, improved hardware, bushings, and heavy-duty springs to bring your truck into the realm of the reliable outdoor explorer.
While suspension systems might seem synonymous with lift kits, these packages are often performance-oriented, meaning that they offer far more advantages in the field of handling, capability, and negotiation of your standard platform.
As with any other integral part of your truck, a blown bushing or destroyed bolt will put a swift end to any outdoor exploration you’re hoping to do — so instead, invest in an aftermarket system that focuses on key reinforcement areas and high-quality peripherals that will make your experience all the more pleasant.
Read about suspensions in detail:
What’s the point in having a full-time four-wheel-drive system if you’re going to drive around with a two-wheel drive? The only exception here is having a selectable locker that can provide 100 percent four-wheel drive when needed, plus a free rear axle for those occasional times when you need it (the Toyota Tacoma comes to mind).
A selectable locker is a limited slip or locking differential that can be activated electronically or mechanically by some device that the driver controls. Selectable lockers typically work in one direction only, either putting power to both wheels (50/50) like an open diff or powering just one wheel (100 percent). The latter provides maximum traction to the wheel with the least amount of tire slippage.
There are a few selectable lockers available on new four-wheel-drive trucks, but most models lack an affordable option for adding this feature after purchase (at least like the factory one). Most off-road enthusiasts opt for installing a mechanical or electronic locker in place of an open diff, but there are other options that might not be the best choice for fast off-road driving.
We have tested many different types of limited-slip/locking rear differentials over the years on 4×4 vehicles with 2wd and selectable locking front diffs. Most have worked great off-road, but some don’t work well in high-traction situations.
Read about lockers in detail:
Of course, the first thing we all do when we buy a new truck is lift it and make it bigger (or at least wider). Four Wheeler Network’s official stance on this is: “If you don’t wheel your four-wheel-drive vehicle, don’t lift it.”
While suspension systems offer more in terms of performance and capability, it’s obvious that the higher your vehicle is off the ground, the more clearance it has, and the more obstacles you’ll be able to negotiate. That’s where the lift kit comes in — providing your truck with the means (and ground clearance) to navigate over obstacles that would make most stock vehicles cower in fear.
Not only does the lift kit provide the perfect expandable capability for your ride, but it also warrants a nice gain in the aesthetics department, exposing the undercarriage of the vehicle and all of the awesomely upgraded suspension work that you had done prior to the addition of the kit.
Originally, stock truck and SUV suspensions were designed to be as low as possible to affect aerodynamics, fuel economy, and safety, but if you’re trying to build the perfect off-road vehicle, these things often don’t matter.
To achieve a drastically improved look and give yourself the perfect foundation for bigger tires, an enhanced suspension system, and the ability to reach places that others can’t, look no further than a simple (but effective) lift treatment.
Read about lift kits in detail:
Body protection is one of the most overlooked additions when it comes to creating an off-road monster since most of the parts are hidden and achieve no aesthetic purpose for the vehicle. While it might be true that there is no reason to buy body protection if you’re only interested in aesthetic value.
It’s absolutely essential should you feel the need to take your vehicle off the grid, over dangerous terrain, and run the risk of inclement damage. The last thing you want when you’re trying to clear an obstacle is to destroy an important underbody component due to a momentary lapse in judgment.
In the long run, body protection will save you the hassle of having to isolate, repair, and reintroduce some of your vehicle’s most important peripherals, and will give you peace of mind the next time you’re trying to negotiate something that might be out of your comfort zone.
High-quality protectors like skid plates, pans, and crossbody members will keep your vehicle rigid, protected, and in great operating condition — because getting stranded off the grid isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Bull bars are better described as brush guards, which are meant to protect the front end of your off-road vehicle as you plow through grass, brush, and anything else that stands in your way. If you can’t drive over it or around it, bull bars are the best way to proceed without worrying that you’ll damage the expensive front-end peripherals of your truck.
While the lack of a bull bar won’t put an end to your excursion, it’s safe to say that the ability to keep both the bonnet and bumper area of your vehicle protected is second to none — after all, you want your vehicle to retain its aesthetic prowess, not look like a beater that you take to the trail every other day.
Read about bull bars in detail:
Winches are another non-essential item for the introductory off-roader but retain their spot as one of the most useful tools for off-road excursions that introduce new levels of difficulty. If you’re prone to find yourself in a number of sticky situations, the winch can be one of the most invaluable additions you can make to your vehicle.
Aside from the obvious ability to pull yourself out of deep ruts, mud-filled riverbeds, and over obstacles, the winch is also useful should you find yourself off-roading with friends or other motorists. Being able to retrieve another vehicle from the brink of disaster is always a great feeling and the more people who can utilize a cable and winch, the better.
Putting a hitch on your vehicle, whether you’re planning on towing anything or not, is a good idea. It provides a mounting point for a wide array of accessories, such as a bike rack, spare tire carrier, or even a BBQ. It also offers a solid tow point, if for some reason you need to be pulled out of a ditch.
Read about hitches in detail:
Roof racks won’t really do much for the off-road performance of your vehicle, but they will prove invaluable for storage, tool carrying, and essential gear stowage. Taking prolonged trips into the back trails of the country’s toughest terrain will often leave you with an urge to carry all of the safety/utility equipment you’ll need for an overnight stay — and that’s where the perfect overhead roof rack comes in.
Most vehicles can carry a variety of things but different mounting styles, reinforcement locations, and rack types provide a slew of options that you can change based on your preference. The quintessential roof rack will provide adequate space for tools, camping gear, outdoor equipment, and anything else you might need while navigating the rocky trails.
Read about roof racks in detail:
Driving at night without lights sucks…literally! This is one of those modifications best left to the experts, though. Not just in terms of cost, but in terms of reliability too.
Lightbars might be showing up close to last on our list, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Stock headlights and alternative vehicle lighting solutions are often underwhelming in the grand scheme of things and provide a baseline luminescent rating for driving on well-lit roadways.
When you’re navigating the wilds with nothing but the light reflecting off the moon, it becomes a lot harder to negotiate tough terrain — that being said, upgraded peripherals will drastically improve your ability to see, understand, and conceptualize the route you’d like to take.
In most situations, this could be the difference between a damaged vehicle, becoming stranded, endangering the lives of others, and coming back home in one piece.
Read about lighting in detail:
There’s simply no substitute for breathing when you need it most (i.e., deep water, quicksand, etc.). An additional benefit is how much better the truck sounds at speed with its new snorkel and intake system; we love that!
For those who like to get their off-road vehicle a little wet, a snorkel is a necessary upgrade to ensure that the vehicle does not cease functioning when submerged in water to an extent. Redirecting the exhaust fumes out of the top of the vehicle—much like a semi-truck—a snorkel ensures that no water drowns out the exhaust and causes the engine to fail.
Although this upgrade may not pertain to every single off-road vehicle build, it is something to consider if the part is already available for your particular model or could be easily fabricated and fitted.
Breathing is essential to life. Imagine how terrible it would be for even your car to not have this essential function, and you’re driving down a deserted highway with nowhere else in sight! The truck’s new snorkel system makes all those worries go away.
Plus there are way more horsepower now too so when we drive at high speeds (which happens quite often) everything sounds great – even through our shifter RPMs hear crunchy tunes from R&B legend Stevie Wonder while accelerating hard on curves or hillsides.
This serves as a nice change of pace from our day-to-day life, not only because the truck snorkels are way cool looking but because there are some very current benefits behind this technology. Right now we’re living in the desert where water is sparse – especially for offroad trucks.
For those lucky enough to live in an area with water, you might have noticed that it gets very dirty. This is not only unsightly but creates problems for your car’s intake system; water can travel through the smallest of cracks and create corrosion and clogs along with your engine parts. If there were ever a way to avoid this, I’d take it!
Read about snorkels in detail:
After a long day of navigating the wilderness, would you really want the interior of your vehicle to look as dirty as the exterior?
After a long day of navigating the wilderness, would you really want the interior of your vehicle to look as dirty as the exterior? Of course, you wouldn’t.
That’s why it is important to have the right floor mats in place, ones that can handle whatever you throw at them – mud, dirt, spilled drinks, pet hair…you name it! It’s also vital to keep them clean so they don’t soil your car’s interior. However, this is much easier said than done.
Stains and odors seem to be the main culprits when it comes to dirty mats, but don’t despair! You can tackle both of these problems in one fell swoop with nothing more than a few simple household items. And not only that, you won’t have to bother putting on rubber gloves or lugging your stuff to the car wash. This method is so effective it works on both cloth and rubber floor mats!
Read about interior liners in detail:
- Jeep Wrangler Carpet Alternatives
- Must Have Interior Truck Accessories Under $50
- Why Does My Car Smell Like Vinegar
Making noise is fun, but once you have a modified exhaust system you’ll find that your truck sounds even better at idle, which adds to the driving experience. Plus, who doesn’t like popping and banging on downshifts?
Making noise is fun, but once you have a modified exhaust system you’ll find that your truck sounds even better at idle, which adds to the driving experience. Plus, who doesn’t like popping and banging on downshifts?
A truck exhaust is sometimes the first modification an owner does to his or her truck.
Trucks have a certain sound – a big, bad truck noise – and there’s nothing quite like the roar of a performance exhaust. Of course, as with every modification you make to your ride, this too comes at a price.
In many states, it is illegal to drive with race or performance muffler components that aren’t approved by the EPA. There’s an easy way around this, though – buy a performance cat-back system that has both race and street configurations, so you can have the best of both worlds.
Truck owners are always trying to find ways to get more speed or power out of their vehicles. There are many modifications that can be made to increase horsepower and torque, but not all of them are legal. Modifying the truck’s exhaust system is often one of the first modifications made to increase horsepower and performance on a vehicle.
Performance Exhaust System
For most owners of trucks, off-roading is an important part of owning such a vehicle. Performance exhaust systems can be purchased to help give your truck a better sound as well as higher horsepower and torque. These systems are often known as a “cat back” or an “axle back.”
There are several types of performance exhaust systems, but the first is a catalytic converter. This particular system is designed to look just like a standard factory exhaust system without any special modifications.
The exhaust gases are routed through a catalytic converter to limit the number of harmful emissions released into the environment. This type of system is actually required by law in most states if you want to drive your truck on public roads.
Performance Cat-Back System
The next type of performance exhaust system contains both a conventional central catalyst converter and an additional rear center resonator. The sound of an exhaust system like this is similar to a loud car stereo with the bass turned up too high.
Performance Exhaust System With Race Muffler
The final type of performance exhaust is called a full race muffler. This kind of system has all the features required to gain legal highway use, plus another part to give the truck a louder, deeper sound. This kind of system requires extra pipes and other components that are simply not included in standard systems.
Not all trucks come with exhaust systems that can be modified to increase performance. Some vehicles only contain factory equipment that cannot be upgraded at all. Many owners decide to purchase aftermarket parts so they can add the power and sound they want to their truck. Just because a system is not designed for performance doesn’t mean you can’t add one that will enhance the overall effect on your vehicle.
Trucks, similar to cars, need some sort of exhaust system in order to run properly and efficiently. The exhaust system allows the engine to breathe — as the engine runs, exhaust fumes are ejected from the combustion process out of a small hole. It is thought that this system makes trucks inefficient and, as a result, it may be a reason why many people seek to modify their trucks’ exhaust systems.
Read about truck exhausts in detail:
Portable Air Compressor
There are few things more annoying than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. Believe it or not, you can fix a tire from the side of the road with a low air pressure alert system and a 12-volt compressor that runs off your vehicle’s battery.
There are few things more annoying than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. Believe it or not, you can fix a tire from the side of the road with a low air pressure alert system and a 12-volt compressor that runs off your vehicle’s battery. This is particularly useful if you’re the type of person who likes to drive off-road or in areas that lack adequate cell phone reception.
Clocking in at $90, this product offers great value. It functions as both a tire inflator and a low air pressure alert system: it plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and will automatically detect when your tire pressure is low; at the same time, it will automatically shut off when you turn your car’s ignition off.
Portable air compressors are great in the wilderness because they can get you out of a jam. You can ride alone and not have to worry about being stranded if you blow a tire. Though, it is not the smartest way to go off-roading a lot of people do it. That means you don’t have to sit there and watch the tire fill up for 15+ minutes. The unit includes three attachments for different types of tires.
However, it’s important to note that this is not a plug-and-play device: you have to wire it into your cigarette lighter for it to work, which requires basic knowledge of how electricity works. It’s also important that you read the user manual to ensure that you don’t overinflate or underinflate your tires. The unit will stop filling up when it reaches the correct pressure, but if there is a faulty seal on the tire, the device won’t detect it.
As with all 12-volt compressors, they can take a long time to inflate tires depending on the pressure that needs to be filled. This is particularly true for large off-road tires or tires that are run flat. For smaller low-pressure tires, this compressor will work fine. On the plus side, it comes with a cigar lighter attachment that can serve as an onboard tire inflator.
Read about air compressors in detail:
Main Takeaways – The Best Off Road Modifications
Conclusion paragraph: When it comes to off-roading, the modifications you make on your truck determine how well you can navigate various terrains and conditions. Whether you choose a suspension lift with new tires or an engine swap for more power, there are many ways in which trucks can be modified in preparation for some of the toughest adventures out there.
I’ve outlined just a few of these below so that you know what they entail before making any decisions about your next purchase. If none of these look like something that will work for your needs, don’t worry! You may want to consider modifying other parts such as shocks and gear ratios instead when trying to improve speed up steep hillsides.
The best off-road truck modifications are ones that improve the vehicle’s performance and safety. Adding a winch, for example, can help people get unstuck from mud or sand more easily because it has a cable with enough strength to pull vehicles out of tough terrain.
Installing oversized tires on your truck is another modification you might want to consider if you plan on driving in rough conditions often. You may also want to install larger shocks so your ride isn’t too bumpy when traveling over uneven surfaces like rocks and tree roots!
If none of these look like something that will work for your needs, don’t worry! You may want to consider modifying other parts such as shocks and gear ratios instead when trying to improve speed up steep hillsides.
Installing fog lights will make nighttime driving much easier by illuminating any obstacles that could be lurking around the next turn. One final tip we have for those looking for an adventure is installing larger shocks so your ride isn’t too bumpy when traveling over uneven surfaces like rocks and tree roots! Adding a winch is another modification you might want to consider if you plan on driving in rough conditions often.
The best off-road truck modifications are ones that improve the vehicle’s performance and safety. Installing oversized tires on your truck is another modification you might want to consider if you plan on driving in rough conditions often.
One final tip we have for those looking for an adventure is installing larger shocks so your ride isn’t too bumpy when traveling over uneven surfaces like rocks and tree roots! The best off-road truck modifications are ones that improve the vehicle’s performance and safety. Installing fog lights will make nighttime driving much easier by illuminating any obstacles that could be lurking around the next turn.
Thanks for reading and stay dirty