The 10 Most Effective Off-Road Upgrades October 30, 2013
There are literally thousands of upgrades you can do to your off-road truck, but there are a select few that stand out from the group as giving you the most bang for your buck. These 10 most effective off-road upgrades are the ones that you should do first to make sure your truck is up to the challenge of off-road driving. 1. Tires and Wheels Most people use all-season tires on their trucks and sometimes use winter tires to deal with the snow, but when you’re off-roading these tires will only get you stuck. One of the first upgrades you do should be a good set of tires, and if you’re looking to go bigger, a solid set of wheels, too. As you can see above, there’s a pretty big difference here, and if you’re serious about off-roading, this is where you need to start. 2. Shocks Just like with tires, most shocks are meant to keep things comfortable on the road. When you go off-road however, the intense use can cause the oil the shocks are filled with to foam, which reduces their damping ability. When upgrading tires or wheels, shocks need to be upgraded as well. Most people think of shocks as being there for comfort only, but their real purpose is handling and control. Bad shocks can lead to a loss of control, which is pretty bad on the trail. Upgrade to a beefy off-road shock to get the best performance. There are hundreds of them out there at just about every price point so there’s no reason to not upgrade your shocks and get past the…shock factor…of upgrading this part of your suspension. 3. Intake, Filters, and Exhaust One of the cheapest upgrades in this list is the intake. Replacing your stock intake with one from a company like K&N is a great way to make sure your engine is taking in all the air it needs. Pair that intake with a quality filter and you know that your engine is breathing as it should. With your engine inhaling like a champ, you need to make sure it can exhale just as well. Upgrading your exhaust with something like a Borla exhaust system may be more expensive than an intake, but is just as necessary, if not more. Factory exhaust systems are built to be quiet and tame, which generally doesn’t line up with power and torque. Upgrade as much of your exhaust as you can afford to and you’ll notice the effects immediately. 4. Lift Kit Ground clearance is one of the biggest enemies of off-roading, which is why adding a lift kit is so important. There is two types of lift kits: body and suspension. Body lifts only lift the body of the truck and while this is useful for adding larger tires and looking cool, the real benefit comes from suspension lifts. Most lift kits will be a combination of the two so you get the ground clearance of the suspension lift and the tire clearance of the body lift. If you plan on doing anything other than driving down muddy roads, a lift kit needs to be in your future. 5. Reprogram The Computer Chances are that your truck has an on-board computer. These computers control just about every function of the engine and transmission (if it’s an automatic). You can easily add horsepower and torque by simply reprogramming this computer with a programmer. A programmer can add horsepower and torque in seconds and can return the truck to stock in the same amount of time. Just like with intake and exhaust, the computer is programmed for comfort and as we all know, comfort generally stands in the way of power. Don’t play games with your computer. Upgrade it to take advantage of the other upgrades you have or will have. A great computer programmer to get you the most power possible is from Hypertech. Just get the one that matches your truck and you’re good to go. 6. Brakes This is a largely overlooked category, since brakes don’t give you any power, they just stop you, and stopping isn’t fun, going is! Well, your stock brakes were designed for you stock wheels, tires, suspension, and power rating. When you start adding bigger tires, better suspension, and more power, your brakes can get out of date pretty quickly. Stopping isn’t only important for day-to-day driving, but can literally save your life on the trail. A good brake upgrade includes better pistons, drilled and slotted rotors, better pads, and braided brake lines. Upgrading your brakes isn’t the most expensive upgrade, but it’s not cheap. If you upgrade anything else on your truck, you need to upgrade your brakes along with it. Look for well-known companies like Baer Brakes to get a quality set. 7. Lighting Factory lighting is meant to illuminate the road in front of you, and it takes for granted that you’re level with that ground. When off-roading you’re rarely level with the ground and you definitely need to see more than just the road in front of you. Light bars and upgraded lights from companies like Rigid Industries are a must for any serious off-roader. Even if you don’t plan on being out after dark, sometimes the trail has different ideas. While not a fun upgrade, you’ll be glad you did it when you get stuck on the trail after dark. 8. Train Horn This one falls under the safety heading as well. Just like lighting, a good train horn on your truck could save your life if you get stuck on the trail. Train horns give you the ability to let EVERYONE around you know where you are. Trails aren’t known for their cell reception, so something like a train horn might be the only way someone could find you in an emergency. Train horns are easy to install and along with their safety use, can be all-around fun to use, too. 9. Winch Another safety upgrade that you need to have is a winch. Winches are great because they not only help you when you’re stuck but also give you the ability to help others when they get stuck, too. You don’t want to be the off-roader that has to call a friend to get out of a sticky situation because you don’t have a winch. You want to BE the person that gets called to help winchless friends. Companies like WARN make outstanding winches that can really save you in a bad situation. Off-roading isn’t just about going fast or having the tallest truck, it’s about getting over anything and getting back home. This is why safety and tools like the winch are so important. 10. Gauges Most trucks don’t come with the number of gauges that they should. Few have actual oil pressure gauges and some don’t even have tachometers! You need to know what’s going on with every aspect of your truck when you’re on the trail and to do that, you need aftermarket gauges. One of the best companies out there for gauges is AutoMeter. They have a gauge for just about every application you can imagine. From better tachometers, to boost gauges, oil pressure, and temperature, they have the gauge for you. Wrap-Up Off-roading is not a cheap hobby to have, but if you focus your attention on the upgrades that will give you the most benefit, you can spend your money in a smart way and get the most bang for your buck.