It's finally finished and ready for the trails. You've modified your truck in all the important ways by adding bigger, fatter wheels and tires, a lifted suspension, heavy duty truck bumpers; you even made sure to add differential covers. The bigger question is, what didn't you upgrade? Sometimes the biggest mistakes made when building a great off-road truck are not the things you do, but the things don't do.
Avoid Stressing Axles and Gears
Bigger and taller tires are important to give you better traction and more ground clearance. Yet the bigger and taller your tires are, the more power they require to keep your truck moving, adding a lot more strain to your drivetrain.
If you're upgrading wheels and tires, your best options are to either to keep them smaller but with a more aggressive tread to avoid over-stressing your axles or install bigger axles.
Similarly, you'll want to evaluate the differential gear ratio, upgrading if necessary to avoid stressing the differential. Without your drivetrain intact, all those other mods you made are useless.
Upgrade Your Brakes
Those bigger tires and much of the other equipment you've added on, like heavier bumpers and suspension systems, also make your truck heavier and harder to stop. This puts a lot of extra strain on your braking system, your truck’s most important safety feature.
If you're upgrading other parts and increasing the weight of your vehicle, add a brake kit with performance pads and rotors so you can stop when needed.
Choose the Right Suspension Mods
Lift kits look cool but do little more than give extra ground clearance and make room for bigger tires. Depending on how you plan to use your truck, a performance suspension kit may give you greater benefit. These kits, also known as long travel suspensions, can give you better control of your off-roading truck by increasing wheel travel and actually keeping all four wheels on the ground where they do you the most good.
While you're at it, even if you aren't upgrading with a whole kit, add bumpstops to avoid over-compressing your suspension, which could potentially damage the drivetrain, oil pan, or other essential parts.
Choose the Right Tires
With all this talk about how bigger, taller wheels and tires can affect your off-roader, take some time to make sure you really need them and that you get the right ones. If you do opt for oversized tires, put some serious thought into the mods mentioned above, including stronger bumpers.
If you just need better traction or plan to continue driving your truck on the road, there are plenty of all-terrain options with aggressive treads to handle multiple off and on-road surfaces. You might even think about improving your traction by adding a differential locker. Try to do more with less to avoid creating new problems while trying to handle another issue.
Fires sometimes happen in off-road trucks that are pushed to their limits. If you're upgrading performance equipment to get more from your four-wheel drive off-roader, realize the possibility of a fire and take steps to prevent one.
Electrical fires are the most common fires in off-roaders. Go over your truck’s electrical system and make sure everything is in good condition. Then install a fire extinguisher in the truck so you have a way to put one out should it happen anyway.
There's no arguing the fact that sometimes you need to modify your stock truck to make it off-road ready. What is arguable are the choices some owners make without fully considering how different mods can affect their trucks.
Before spending much money upgrading one area without considering the damage that can occur to others, take some time to plan your mods. Adding only the most necessary parts in the right succession, including safety gear like winch truck bumpers that can get you out of a bind, will help you get the most from your truck without facing expensive breakdowns!