There’s no cutting corners – when you take your vehicle off-road, you simply have to keep it in top shape. It’s not unusual for a passionate 4×4 enthusiast to have a wish list of upcoming upgrades and aftermarket parts. Some of us do look forward to tweaking our cars. And others hardly manage to do so with even the regular 4WD maintenance chores.
You can constantly shift priorities on your wish list, however, there are parts that deserve to be high up. We’ve made a list of some of them here, and don’t worry if they aren’t your most important items. These things are always subject to intent, budget and preference.
Protecting the outline of the vehicle is often paramount to having a stress free off-road adventure. We all hear the occasional reports detailing encounters with wildlife that end up causing some damage. Side steps, flares and bull bars protect small rocks chipping away paint from the chassis.
Having a high quality car bonnet cover protector in this regard. It’s a small contraption placed on the front hood designed to keep road debris off your windshield and hood. By directing the air stream in a certain way you will get rid of small rocks, dust and similar road debris.
Probably the most valuable feature of car bonnet cover protectors is the fact they seamlessly blend with the visual outline of the vehicle. Especially if you get an exact fit for the make and model of your car as opposed to getting a universal bonnet protector. Because of all this, the aerodynamic profile of your 4×4 will remain unaltered. And to the untrained eye, this addition to your hood will be ‘invisible’ due to its unassuming and inconspicuous design.
The materials used to make the bonnet protector is one of the technical specifications you got to keep your eye on. In essence, they are made of plastic but do check how thick the layer is, the type of plastic used and its UV rating. Models that are 2.5mm or thicker are sturdy, particularly if they are made from acrylic. Every retailer will boast about unparalleled UV resistance, but you will need to study vehicle design standards to get a straight answer.
Instalment should be fairly quick and is one of the reasons car owners go for an exact match to their car. Most of them can be put into place without drilling or cutting other parts. The latter is also important in terms of compatibility. Some models can not be fitted if your vehicle already has a bull bar or other front hood gear. To avoid making a blunder you need to be aware even of pieces you intend to install in the future.
It’s easy to forget to keep track of vital performance metrics in an urban setting. You are, after all, driving fairly short distances and there are plenty of mechanics to step in when problems arise. Off-road driving is almost entirely different. You simply can’t remain oblivious to the driving parameters – it’s a luxury you can’t afford when you are navigating a remote terrain. Taking readings on present performance and contrasting these metrics with historical data should aid both your off-road decision making and your driving style.
Going for a new 4×4 auto gauge will make such tasks very easy. It’s a step many take to either replace a faulty and obsolete car gauge or to introduce a new convenient way to read a certain metric. An auto gauge measures the temperature and pressure of car fluids but it can also keep track of other data.
Retailers of aftermarket car gauges include both analog and digital models. The model of your car and your personal preference will dictate the choice. They both have advantages and downsides. Analog auto gauges are easy to read and, generally speaking, will not distract you from the road ahead. If you have several of them (oil pressure, water temperature, tachometer) though, it can create a visual clutter on the dashboard.
Digital 4WD gauges will make your dashboard feel like an aircraft cockpit. Advanced models can show a wide array of measurements you can scroll through. On the flip side, this can be an issue as you will have to resist the temptation of checking all those metrics as you drive. Your attention should be focused on the road and not on your customizable digital gauge.
Once the car stops moving, you can share the data with your smart devices and analyze the input. You can tweak the gauges any way you want. Some prefer to monitor the exhaust system with an exhaust temperature gauge, while others stick to basics like speed, distance, water and oil temperature.
No off-road vehicle is complete without adequate recovery gear. Experienced 4WD enthusiasts are aware that any jeep can be bogged down in the hinterland. When this thing happens (yes, when, not an if) it sure helps a lot to have your winch or recovery tracks. If you are part of a group then you might easily find someone willing to recover your vehicle by using the mounting points. This is not always the case so better be prepared to take yourself out of dodge unassisted.
Fitting your vehicle with a reliable 4WD electric winch will greatly increase your vehicle recovery options. Since this is an aftermarket part that will take big loads you simply have to install it on a predetermined mounting point. Usually, this is direct to the chassis and below your front hood at a point able to share the load. Never go around this rule because doing so will result in damage to the vehicle. It can even deem it inoperable and if you are far enough in the hinterland, this could practically bog your 4×4 down for good.
These 4WD electric winch models come with a sturdy built able to withstand the elements. This is a must as they will be constantly exposed to water, humidity and harsh sun. So, a waterproof (and mudproof) car winch is the way to go. Newer models can be operated via a wireless connection. Apart from being slick, this also serves to improve safety. They make them tough these days. Look for a unit with Dyneema rope, it’s a synthetic cord able to perform to high standards (after the initial stretch) and be consistent over time.