So you want to go off-roading but you know your truck is nowhere near ready to rage freely through the off-beaten path…and you’re just standing there wondering where to even start. You have some sort of stock truck hopefully with sufficient power & 4×4 handling and you want to upgrade its capability to go for an outdoors adventure ride in the rough terrain, but there’s just so many aftermarket options available, it’s not hard to get a little overwhelmed. To help steer you in the right direction we’ve researched and put together a list of the top 6 upgrades to consider to get your vehicle off-road ready. Your list may be prioritized depending on what region you live in, so take that into consideration as you read!
1. Better Tires
You will find that most trucks and SUVs come equipped with street-biased tires. Why? Manufacturers understand these vehicles spend majority of their time on even, paved roads so most tires will have soft sidewalls and a mild tread pattern. However, traveling off-highway will create multiple challenges and stress on these type of tires. Progressing to a more off-road-suitable tire will help strengthen your truck overall. Tougher tires will allow better traction, a wider footprint, conquer more terrain than stock tires are able to, and other enhanced capabilities depending which ones you choose.
2. Shock Therapy
Similar to stock tires, the shocks under your truck are likely designed for street use. If you take your stock shocks on a trail, they will overwork its capability and likely overheat because it was not designed for this type of environment. In high-speed use on a trail, the oil in the shocks may heat to a temperature so high, the shock may surrender its dampening ability. Most stock shocks are also constructed to work with manufactured stock tires, designed considering the vehicle, tire, and wheel weight among other considerations from its factory. If you plan to upgrade to larger tires and other aftermarket accessories, the sizing and valving of your factory shock will become imbalanced and may exceed its capabilities.
Switch out those shocks for bulkier aftermarket units. There are several options to choose from, but they are typically all very similar. Aftermarket shocks tend to have a larger piston rod and piston, dissipate heat quicker, and some shocks may use velocity-sensitive valving, allow manual adjustment or are designed specific to a certain truck. If you are looking to push it to the limit, you can find remote-reservoir shocks that tend to run cooler and are often rebuildable.
3. Intake & Filter
Like you, your gas or diesel engine requires air to operate. The air has to be clean and sufficient in order for the engine to perform properly otherwise fuel economy may take a suffering. Off roading means dirty air, and dirty air may cause particles to be sucked into the combustion chambers unless filtered out. Factory intake and filters will accomplish basic filtration but is not competent for off-road conditions filled with mud, rocks, and other flying debris. Replace your factory intake and filter with an aftermarket one that is able to improve the intake airflow to reduce intake restriction.
Your truck’s stock exhaust system is likely designed to quiet the noise from your exhaust, not necessarily with performance in mind. Substitute your stock exhaust system with a nice aftermarket one to incorporate free-flowing resonator and mufflers, more power, and improved fuel economy. It may even improve the sound of your engine.
There’s nothing more dangerous and frustrating than limited ground clearance if you want to enjoy an off-road experience. Truck suspensions are usually designed with more ground clearance than economy cars, but the suspension is still kept relatively low due to fuel economy and other concerns. A suspension lift kit will alleviate that issue providing virtually everything you need to lift your truck to your desired height at a reasonable price with easy installment. Consult with suspension manufacturers to give you information on the maximum recommended tire size for each kit – most leveling kits will allow for a small increase in tire size.
Factory forward-facing headlights are great for an evening ride in the brightly lit city but do little for you on the trails. There are unforeseen ditches, turns, rocks, and other objects that regular highlights will fail to illuminate during your bumpy ride. Ditch your stock headlights for Halo LED light bars that will drastically improve your vision to ensure a fun and safer nighttime experience. Light up the night with these bad boys without any guilt. You can rest assured knowing these light bars come with a 2-year warranty and 50,000+ hours worth of lifespan so they won’t let you down.
So, there you have it! These top 6 important upgrades to make your truck off-road ready should be a great start to get you going on your transformation. You want your truck to be prepared to handle the unbeaten path by doing the research to determine what works best for you. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting the trails in your new and improved badass truck ready to take on the rocky and rugged mother nature.