Truck Upgrade Ideas You Should and Shouldn't Try At Home
it comes to trucks, buying the ride is only half the fun. The other
half is upgrading your truck into the marauding monster of your off-road
Depending on the modifications,
rolling up your sleeves and tackling these aftermarket upgrades at home
can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. While there are few
things as rewarding as watching an idea literally take shape, some
projects should be left to the professionals.
Vehicle upgrades and modifications require precision and the slightest miscalculation can be disastrous. Understanding your capabilities and also the limitations of your tools and workspace is imperative with any DIY undertaking. Remember, there’s no shame in letting an expert handle an upgrade especially if you don’t feel entirely comfortable managing the modification yourself. Below, we’ve compiled some of the best truck modifications to tackle at home, as well as a few insights into projects you should save for the pros.
A Better Bed Liner
Many newer trucks come with durable bed liners, however, some older models could benefit from an initial first liner or an upgrade from the original, likely worn liner. Today, there are two main options for bed liners: drop-in bed liners and spray-on bed liners. Not all vehicles, lifestyles, and climates will require the same sort of bed liner. For example, those who live in wetter climates or near the ocean may prefer a spray-on liner due to the stronger seal. If water and sand sneak in through the small gaps between the truck body and a drop-in liner, this can cause corrosion and wear over time. On the other hand, those who frequently carry heavier materials in their truck bed may prefer the durability and protection of a drop-in liner. Additionally, it’s worth noting that a drop-in liner can be removed at any time, whereas a spray-in liner is a long-term modification to the truck itself.
Installing a drop-in liner isn’t a difficult task to tackle at home, however, we do not recommend amateurs attempt to apply a spray-on liner. Spray-on liners can be finicky: shoddy spray-on bed liners bubble, crack, and peel prematurely, and removing a spray-on liner is even more of a headache than applying it. If you think your truck will benefit from a spray-on liner, save yourself the struggle and let the professionals take the lead on this one.
Add a Little “Flare”
If your tires extend beyond the existing wheels, well-flared fenders are one of the cheaper off-road mods to consider. In some states, to protect other motorists from potential projectile debris, tires are not legally permitted to extend beyond the fender. That said, if you’ve added oversized tires, flared fenders will keep you on the right side of the law and also add a little aesthetic muscle to the truck body. Furthermore, as vehicles age, fender wells can rust. For those who aren’t willing to go all in on expensive body work, a flared fender may be a cosmetic solution that costs much less than the usual body shop would charge for more intensive work.
Upgrade The Undercarriage
A skid plate may not top the list of cool truck modifications to invest in, however, it certainly is one of the most practical -- especially for off-road enthusiasts. In unforgiving terrain, the components on the underside of the vehicle are vulnerable to structural damage. These at-risk systems include the suspension, transmission system, differential, and steering elements, and the engine itself. There are many skid plate styles to choose from and deciding which is best will differ based on anticipated vehicle use and other preferences. Some jeeps and trucks may come with a standard skid plate, however, it may be necessary to upgrade to a sturdier model before venturing off the beaten path.
Protect Your Investment with a Grille Guard
Whether you’re chewing up tundra or simply towing loads around a worksite, scratches and dings are inevitable. With this in mind, a grille guard is one of the best off road upgrades to add both functionality and a rugged aesthetic to your truck. Some may prefer the lower profile and less cumbersome bull bar, but a grille guard offers greater protection. And it’s not all about keeping your chrome clean: a grille guard can protect the goods under the hood as well. The radiator sits just behind the grille and even a small front-side puncture can wreck a cooling system. As an added benefit, many models will have built-in ports for auxiliary lights, so those looking to add a few lumens may find this aftermarket addition doubly practical.
To Lift or Not to Lift?
While some people may not appreciate the aesthetic of a lifted truck, the appeal is undeniable for off-roaders and the increased clearance is necessary in rugged terrain. Unfortunately, this aftermarket upgrade will require some work and -- depending on the lift -- some very specific hardware and tools. For these reasons and others, incorporating a lift kit should only be handled by an experienced and well-equipped professional, and definitely not those new to automotive modifications. It’s also important to do your homework before going all-in on a truck lift as this modification can impact the manufacturer’s warranty.
Hindsight is 20/20
There are also many preventative safety upgrades even the casual mechanic can handle at home. Today, “an estimated 210 people die and 15,000 are injured each year because of backover crashes,” according to a report by The Chicago Tribune. Unfortunately, children under five and adults 70 years of age and older make up nearly 60 percent of all backover accidents. While the NHTSA now requires backup cameras on on all vehicles sold in the United States, many used trucks do not have this potentially life-saving rearview capability. Raised vehicles in particular have even larger rear blind spots, setting the stage for a potentially fatal backover traffic accident. Adding a backup camera increases the field of view behind the vehicle, which can decrease the risk of a backing crash by up to 16 percent. Whether you are upgrading your grocery getter or your off-road Goliath, a little visibility can go a long way. WIth this in mind, CameraSource has a wide range of backup cameras for many pickup truck makes and models.