Driving off-road, over trails, and through the brush is exhilarating. Spending a day or two crawling over rocks, blasting through creeks, and rolling through the forest is relaxing and thrilling at the same time. Off-roading gets you out in nature, away from all the distractions of the world. Driving and navigating the trail challenges your senses, reflexes, and concentration. Don’t just yank the wheel to the left and drive your truck off the road, though. You’ll need to make some mods to your truck or Jeep so it won’t get stuck and leave you in the middle of nowhere. Preparing your truck for off-roading is part of the fun too. Let’s dive in and find out what you need to do.
Lift the Truck
The most important thing you will need while off-roading is ground clearance. You’re not driving on paved roads that are nice and smooth. There will be fallen logs, rocks, and hundreds of other obstacles on the trail, so you will need to clear them. If the chassis is too low, the truck will get hung up on the obstacle and leave you stuck and short on options. Put in a lift kit and jack the truck up so you can take on larger obstacles off the road.
Install a Skid Plate
A skid plate is exactly what it sounds like. It’s installed at the front end of the truck just under the bumper. It extends underneath the truck and protects it from jagged rocks and logs sticking up from the ground. The plate protects the radiator, oil pan, and drive train, all vital parts that you’ll need to keep safe. In the event you don’t lift your truck high enough, the plate becomes even more important. You won’t fall into the trap, though, because you know it’s cooler to lift the truck higher.
Get Better/Bigger Tires
Alongside the lift kit, the tires are the most important upgrade you can make. The tires are everything when driving off-road, and the bigger the better. A knobby, wide tire will let you take on deep puddles and swampy conditions that would swallow up normal tires. Off-road tires are thicker than standard ones and more resistant to the punctures you are sure to encounter. Off-road vehicles need an aggressive stance so they can tackle the rough terrain with ease.
Install a Trailer Hitch
A trailer hitch is requisite for any truck. A truck without one is like an airplane without wings: useless. Trekking through the outback there are other items to take along, like coolers, ATVs, dirt bikes, and camping equipment; the hitch will let you bring those things. You can pull a trailer to a site and offload what you brought. The hitch also acts as a solid towing point in case you get stuck. Chains and straps can be attached to the hitch and another truck can pull you free.
Install a Bolt-On Recovery Point
Off-roading brings with it a lot of hazards and may get you into places where you can become stuck. In those instances, it’s good to have a spot on the truck that you can use to hook up and get pulled out. Similar to the trailer hitch, a recovery point is a spot on the truck that is solid that straps and chains can hook up to. It’s not possible to pull them off the truck, and they can withstand the tension and force pulling at it.
Upgrade the Suspension and Bushings
Although the idea is sometimes grouped with lift kits, replacing your stock suspension with heavy-duty springs, hardware, and bushings should not only lift but also strengthen your vehicle. Most stock suspensions aren’t enough to withstand the punishment off-roading puts on a truck. A snapped bolt or blown bushing will leave you stranded. Swapping out rubber for polyurethane bushings and stock steel for high-tensile-strength, corrosion-proof bolts is money well spent.
Add a Bull Bar and Winch
When you can't go over it, you'll need to go through it. Like a cow catcher on a locomotive, a decent bull bar will help you clear a path and keep your front end damage-free. Protect the front end of the truck with this rough-looking add-on. It protects the radiator and headlights from damage you will encounter. You can add a winch to this accessory too. A strong winch can pull you out of any obstacle when there is no one around to help you out. Wrap it around a tree and let the winch pull you out. It’s also good to help fellow off-roaders when they need a hand. The cable and hook is strong enough to pull just about anything.
Install a Roof Rack
If you don’t have a trailer you are pulling, then a roof rack will do just as well. Odds are you'll be bringing a ton of extra gear into the bush. A roof rack and some heavy-duty straps will give you the extra storage to take it all with you. If vehicle weight is a concern, opt for an aluminum model, which will stand up to the elements better than a steel one. Make sure that you strap everything down well. When you think you have enough straps, add one more. If you aren’t setting up camp and offloading your gear, then it can end up on the trail real fast. Secure everything so you don’t have to stop every hundred yards and pick up something else.
Light up the Trail
Every truck comes with headlights, but that isn’t always enough light on the trail. There is no ambient light or streetlights in the wilderness, and it gets tough to see at night. Install a light bar on the top of your truck so you can light up everything. The extra lights will come in handy when navigating at night and keep you out of any new obstacles along the way.
Boost your motor and transmission as part of your off-road mods with an Allison 1000 rebuild kit. You’ll need the extra torque and power when plowing through the brush.