Off-roading is a way to combine your love of driving and your love of nature. Whether you’re scaling steep fire roads or barreling through rocky ravines, this pursuit can leave you with many fond memories.
It takes a special kind of vehicle to handle the challenges that come with off-roading, and there are new and used vehicles on the market tailored to this task. But you don’t need to make a vehicle purchase to travel off the paved path. It’s possible to retrofit your truck or SUV to make it more suitable for off-road adventures.
Below are six upgrades that can make your truck or SUV more off-road friendly.
1. Improve traction by installing tires purpose-built for off-road travel. Most trucks and SUVs come with tires intended for street use. If you want to hit the trails, you’ll need to invest in tires made to handle this challenge.
Tires made for street use are designed to provide good traction on paved surfaces, but they don’t deliver the grip needed for safe off-road travel. Street tires also lack the ruggedness necessary to avoid damage when exploring trails and paths. They have soft sidewalls that easily can be punctured by intruding rocks or branches.
Off-road tires are crafted to perform in dirt, gravel or mud, and they come with aggressive treads that provide the traction you need to enjoy stable handling in these environments. They also feature tough sidewalls that are less likely to suffer damage when you’re plowing past rocks and branches.
2. Boost ground clearance with a suspension lift kit. Adequate ground clearance is a must when off-roading. Exploring trails and fire roads involves driving your truck or SUV on surfaces that may be rocky or uneven. If your vehicle rides too close to the ground, you’ll almost inevitably damage the undercarriage.
You can improve ground clearance by investing in a suspension lift kit. These kits increase ground clearance by raising the vehicle’s suspension. They usually accomplish this by replacing the front and rear shocks, as well as the leaf springs.
A suspension lift kit can add several inches of ground clearance to your truck or SUV. These kits also can make it easier for your vehicle to navigate steep ascents and descents.
3. Add a skid plate to protect your vehicle’s undercarriage. Even with high ground clearance, your truck or SUV may be at risk for damage when traveling over rocks and boulders. One way to prevent this damage is to invest in a skid plate.
A skid plate is a panel installed underneath your SUV or truck, and it serves as a shield that protects the vehicle’s underbelly from objects on the ground below. Some skid plates provide protection only for key components, while others shield the entire underside of the vehicle.
4. Improve visibility by installing more powerful lighting. The headlights that come with most trucks and SUVs are designed for street use. When you’re traveling off-road in the black of night, these lights may not be bright enough to provide adequate illumination.
For safer nighttime off-roading, it’s a good idea to install aftermarket headlights specially built for this task. For even better illumination, roof-mounted light bars are available that can help give you a clear view of surrounding nighttime terrain.
5. Protect your headlights and grille with a front grille guard. When you’re plowing through brush, it’s easy to do a number on the front end of your vehicle. Tree branches can scrape the front fascia’s paint and cause damage to the grille.
A front grille guard can help. These guards protect your vehicle’s grille, and they can also shield the headlights from damage. They come in a variety of stylish designs that can upgrade the look of your vehicle.
6. Shield your tires from damage by adding flared fenders. Even rugged off-road tires can suffer flats, and a flat tire can kill your fun during a day of off-roading. To protect your tires, it’s wise to upgrade your truck or SUV with flared fenders.
Flared fenders will help shield your tires from threats such as tree branches and rocks. They come in styles and colors that can flatter your vehicle’s appearance.
Sticks and Stones
Off-roading is a blast, but this endeavor presents many hazards. It’s important to make sure your vehicle has the equipment to handle the job.
Investing in the upgrades discussed above will help reduce the risk of mishaps while you’re having fun off-road.