Choosing the best vehicle for some off-roading adventures demands thinking about more than just the size of the tires you can run or whether the suspension is rugged enough.
This part will discuss modification options that you can make to some of these trucks to expand their capabilities beyond what the factory gives you.
Wheels and Tires
The first place most owners look at for improving the off-road performance of any stock vehicle is the wheels and tires.
Although these vehicles likely come with a good set of All-Terrain tires, you may want to add bigger tires to give you a little more ground clearance and different or meatier treads for the traction you’ll need for trails traveled with your truck or Jeep.
Street A/T tires are designed to provide improved traction on the street or give you the ability to drive over some unpaved trails.
Better tires with more aggressive treads designed for going off-road might allow you to do more with your stock vehicle outfitted with some great aftermarket bumpers thanks to the amount of added traction they provide.
If you do add bigger wheels and tires to your new off-road toy, look also into adjusting the gearing as those bigger, heavier tires can put more strain on the gears as opposed to the stock tires they’re geared for.
You’ll get better fuel economy, a more powerful low gear, and less strain on your off-road beast if you adjust the gearing to compensate for this change.
Another thing to consider so that you get the top-rated power your chosen vehicle has to give is adding locking differentials to one or both axles.
Locking differentials allow your truck or Jeep to really work as a 4WD as opposed to the AWD that many of today’s 4WD vehicles come with by keeping all four wheels constantly receiving power and moving, even when one of the wheels may not have traction.
This setup allows you to get a high level benefit from the traction you do have, especially if you add bigger and better tires.
Suspension modifications are serious business and can be pretty costly; however, it could be a necessary modification depending on how extreme you plan on getting with your off-roading.
If you need the traction and clearance given by bigger and taller tires, you might need to lift the suspension to fit them under fenders or aftermarket bumpers to give you increased space for articulation as well.
One more benefit is that a suspension lift also provides a suspension that can withstand harder use, much more so than the stock suspension.
If you like wheeling at night or go off-road camping a lot, you’ll quickly find that the factory lights on just about any 4WD vehicle will seem actually lacking out on the trail.
Now these vehicles, even though they are 4WD, are largely designed for street use and minor off-road driving, so if you do more than that, you can very easily add more fog, spot, and driving lights to the front and top of your truck or Jeep.
Strong body protection that can put up with real off-roading is something that a lot of stock vehicles lack, so this is one more modification to look into for additional protection.
Adding things like aftermarket truck bumpers, skid plates, rock sliders, and more is a great way to enjoy the trail with any new 4WD vehicle while protecting it from the damage it could possibly sustain.
Weigh All Options And Make the Right Choice!
With the number of 4WD trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs available today, finding the right one to enjoy on some off-road adventures can be quite a task.
Hopefully, this article series on what to look for on factory vehicles and what to look into changing after purchase will help.
Consider what each can do now, what it could do with a few modifications, and what you ultimately want it to do, then make the right choice!