What do I do next? What should my first modification be? We have this question come up a lot. Truth is there is not a simple way to answer that. You can go all out – over accessorize your vehicle and buy everything out of the parts catalog. You can take it to a fabrication shop and have them make you the most awesome vehicle on the planet (or at least the grocery store parking lot). The other method to modifications is build it as you go, replacing what doesn’t work or breaks as you use your vehicle. You have options! It all depends on you – your lifestyle and your wallet.
We all want to get the next latest and greatest modifications on our vehicle. It makes it more usable and gives your vehicle that “Cool” factor. What is the direction you should go? If this is your daily driver you have to keep that in mind. If you spend money on building the vehicle to climb over anything in its path you may have to say goodbye to your daily driver – it will not be a very good highway driver. The opposite of this also comes into play as a vehicle that gets great gas mileage and cruises I-95 comfortably at 70mph will not climb crazy obstacles. This why it is important to choose the modifications that meet your needs and fit you and your lifestyle.
All too often we see owners and their vehicles fall into three different traps regarding modifications. The first one pertains to fabrication shops and 4×4 stores. They will want to sell you anything and everything they can to make a sale (This is not the case for all of them but we know how salesman work). You may have heard something along the lines of this, “Well, you need to add this part or you will break when you go off road, but because you added that you need this and this…….” Next thing you know your bill has commas and many zeros. Take the time to find a fabrication shop that hears you and your goals and doesn’t try to add features/modifications that you won’t need.
The second trap is more along the lines of peer pressure. The owner who has to keep up with the Jones’s, you know that guy down the street bought this cool part for his vehicle so you need to get it or the next best thing.
The last one is the influence of a wheeling buddy or close friend who offers their “advice”….aka “The Parts Justifier”. They buy a part and tell you that you need to buy the same part as well because they did. “Dude! It is the greatest thing I swear because I have one.” Or, this friend thinks they know everything because they saw it on the internet. These situations can be traps, do your own research before you follow suit with everyone else. If you are the type of person who is in need of good advice, research good shops near you that people recommend for the type of build you are looking to do. There are some great shops out there that are all about the customer and not just the up-sell.
If you build your vehicle to fit your lifestyle, budget, and driving skill then you will learn how things work and appreciate the modifications that you have done. Carefully lay out your modification goals. Be careful not to buy those more aggressive tires to fit your stock JK when in 6 months you will be lifting the vehicle and want bigger tires. It may be best to wait and do it all at once. You can lift your vehicle and run smaller tires until you get money to get the bigger ones. Over building your vehicle too fast means your driving skills will have to play catch up to the modified vehicle and can lead to disastrous results. Building your vehicle as you are growing your driving skills builds a bond with the vehicle and creates a relationship that will be hard to part with. Ask yourself, will I be off road driving twice a year on easy trails or will I be eating rocks for breakfast. There is a fine balance between the two and you can find a happy medium by doing research. Be mindful, take your time and enjoy the build. We have enjoyed this sport for many years and our goal is to encourage, support and provide a learning tool for fellow off road enthusiast so that they can enjoy this sport for years to come.
(Editor: Just had to add this thought. Do you know the difference between well built trail vehicles and ones that always have issues? Planning and installing parts that work together.)
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