Contrary to popular belief, modifying your 4×4 without breaking the bank isn’t impossible. A few upgrades can polish the look, bump performance, and customize your rig — it doesn’t take much! Since we’re talking exclusively about inexpensive upgrades, an added bonus is that most only take an hour or so to complete. Here’s how to optimize your 4×4 on a budget.
Ditch Those Stock Tires
You’re probably already skeptical since off-road tires have a pricey reputation, but you don’t have to pay top dollar to upgrade! The secret to inexpensive off-road tires is to be frugal about it. One option is retread tires. There are companies around selling these tires that have been doing it for years — check with your off-road forum members for recommendations. Another popular option is buying used; there are plenty out there for sale in Facebook groups, on Craigslist, eBay, etc. with tons of life left. As an added bonus,you can sell your original tires to recoup some of the cost of the purchase; you’d be surprised how many people are looking for decent stock tires.
Pick Up Some Heavy Duty Floor Mats
The factory floor mats aren’t exactly made to handle what an off-roader will throw at them! Between mud, water, and dust, you can kill your interior, so ditch those factory mats and opt for purpose made off-road mats. They’ll keep your interior intact and keep off-roading from ruining the resale value of your rig.
While we’re talking about retaining the value of your vehicle, remember that seats are also susceptible to damage when owned by an off-roader. Even just one extra layer of protection can prevent stains from mud, grease, spills, and so on. You can also take the opportunity to add a little customization here – change the color scheme up a bit and make your interior a little more exciting than stock.
Switch to a High Flow Air Filter
If buying a complete cold air intake kit isn’t in the cards, a high flow air filter can still help with air flow. These filters are not only good at trapping dirt, they’re designed to increase the air volume coming into the engine. Chances are, your filter needs to be replaced anyway if you off-road a lot, and using a reusable one can save you a few bucks if you’re really hardcore with the dusty trails. They drop right in place of the OEM filter and only require cleaning and re-oiling, but they’re made to last the life of the vehicle.
A Good Set of Shocks
Shocks absorbers make more of a difference in control with a 4×4 than you might think, making them a good place to spend money. If you only have enough money to start one project, make it upgrading your shocks. Quality off-road shocks don’t have to break the bank, especially if you shop for quality over brand name. There are some lesser known companies out there making good shocks for a 1/4 of the cost of big names.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy
You’ll never know how important a fire extinguisher is until you need one! No, they don’t boost performance, and they don’t make your rig look any cooler. But what they do offer is a way to keep your vehicle from burning to the ground! Being off-road means emergency responders aren’t going to be able to pull a fire truck up to your engine bay fire and put it out — you’re pretty much on your own. Be safe and carry an electric fire capable fire extinguisher. While you’re at it, grab a first aid kit too.
Get Some Grab Handles
Give your passengers something to hold on to by installing some cool paracord handles. They can be easily added to the head rests, pillars, seat backs, door frames, etc.
Off-road lights come in handy a lot, especially if you ever plan on off-roading at night, during dusk, or early in the morning. These lights also add visibility during the rain, in dusty conditions, and in densely forested areas. LED bars are ideal, and they’re becoming more affordable everyday. However, many find halogen work well for their purpose, too.
It might not seem like a big deal, but mounting your phone allows you to have easier access and use it ‘better’ for off-roading. With it right in front of you, you won’t have to dig it out to open apps, look for directions, call for help, and so on…not to mention, you’ll have access to GPS navigation without having to buy a separate device.
Underseat Cargo Storage
Keeping your cargo organized is essential for keeping the interior from looking cluttered and messy, but it also serves a purpose. When you’re hitting the trails, there’s nothing worse than items flying from side to side in your vehicle every time you hit a rough bump, or make a sudden turn. You can also maximize your cargo capacity with storage boxes. Pre-made boxes are fairly inexpensive, and homemade boxes are even cheaper!
Note than in addition to these parts already being of lower cost, you can get them even cheaper as a member of the Motostew 4×4 Association. We carry most of these parts and offer them to our members at a deeply discounted price. Free memberships come with competitive pricing, while we offer parts at cost to Premium and Lifetime members, an excellent way to stretch your dollar on every project. Check out the details here.