One of the most exciting things about off-roading is negotiating different obstacles and testing your skills. As your skills increase and you become more confident, you’ll start to push your boundaries a little more. When you do, is your Jeep ready with everything it needs, like steel bumpers? Use this handy checklist to make sure your Jeep is ready for the tougher trails so you make it back unscathed.
Choosing the Right Wheels and Tires
Usually, the first mods made to any off-road Jeep is making sure it has the right wheels and tires installed. Jeeps come with some meaty stock off-road tires, but those aren’t enough if you’re into rock and hill climbing or driving on really rough and uneven terrain.
Besides a more aggressive tread, you can get better traction and other performance enhancements with larger wheels and tires so long as they don’t interfere with the fenders. If you want to go really big, consider adding a body lift or suspension lift to eliminate fender interference. Better yet, check out the front fender replacement system from Fab Fours so you can run those bigger tires.
Ground Clearance Concerns
The more aggressive the trails get, the more important it is to have good ground clearance. You can gain ground clearance by using bigger wheels and tires. A suspension lift kit will add even more ground clearance. Best of all, this kind of kit also gives a certain amount of body lift as well, tackling the issue of fender interference after bigger tires are added.
Increased ground clearance via a suspension lift will also give better approach and departure angles for hill climbing and a higher breakover angle.
Durable Undercarriage Protection
When you start putting those tires and that lifted suspension to the test, you run the risk of damaging something on the underside of your Jeep. Protect everything down there with rock sliders that protect the rocker panels and skid plates for everything else. You can buy skid plates to cover the drivetrain, gas tank, oil pan, and transfer case so your rock climbing adventures don't end up costing you dearly.
Low Torque and Gearing
The rougher the going gets, the more power you need to get through it. Low-end torque is most important, as it allows you to get through and over the more challenging obstacles at slower speeds without losing momentum or having to wring the motor. When you pair a motor capable of high low-end torque with a low-range transfer case and low gearing, your Jeep will slowly climb just about anything.
A Locking Differential
If you are serious about off-roading and want to tackle the tough obstacles, a locking differential is essential. Locking differentials keep the power going to the four wheels at the same speed even if the level of traction under each tire is different. This keeps your Jeep moving consistently forward over rough, uneven terrain without the loss of traction that would make it impossible.
A Sturdy Suspension
The suspension is the one system on your Jeep that puts up with the most abuse, so it needs to be strong and durable. There are a number of different suspension types available if you are planning an upgrade. Of them all, many feel that the traditional solid-axle suspension is the most durable. Solid axle suspension also gives you a lot more wheel articulation, which means better traction on uneven terrain.
Safe Tow Points and Recovery Gear
Even if your Jeep is well prepared and protected for the tough trails, sooner or later everyone gets stuck. Prepare in advance for recovery by ensuring you have solid tow points on your Jeep bumper or frame that are safe to pull from. It’s probably a good idea to carry some recovery equipment with you as well. If you have a steel bumper winch, even better.
The takeaway here is simple. If you’re ready for the rough stuff, make sure your Jeep is too. Keep up with modifications so you are never underpowered and your Jeep is protected. Alternately, don’t risk damaging your Jeep or hurting yourself unless you’re ready with the right equipment. Smart modifications such as suspension systems, tires, and steel bumpers will help you enjoy your off-road Jeep to its fullest as you tackle the tougher trails!