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Top 3 Expensive Mods and 3 That Don’t Make Sense (to me)

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One of the most common questions that gets asked in the forums is: Which mod should I get first? Now mods can vary based on budget, vehicle, personal opinions, goals, and available terrain around you. Heck, even politics or beliefs can determine what you choose for your vehicle. Today with ready access to the internet, newfound influencers can also influence what you buy (even if maybe they don’t have much experience themselves). At the end of the day, there are many ways to skin a cat and many ways to mod your vehicle. While there are a lot of good ways, there are also a lot of bad. This topic covers neither. Instead, in today’s topic, I seek to cover my personal take on the 3 mods you shouldn’t cheap out on as well as 3 expensive mods that don’t make sense (to me at least).

Now I’m not trying to press any buttons here and I’ll be sure to attempt to explain my topics. But still, I preface with this: Personal opinion as stated above is part of this as well as personal experience. It’s not my way or the highway and I’ll be sure to follow up this topic with other similar topics as well to build off this one. Let’s begin!

Top 3 Expensive Mods:

#1: Tires! This one was easy. Tires are what give us contact with the road and they give us grip in the snow, wet, sand, rock, and asphalt. They need to work when cold and when hot. Tires are important and should not be cheaped out on. When thinking about your tire purchase think of the the following: How heavy is your vehicle? (this can affect the load range you choose), What types of terrain am I looking to conquer? Will I drive this vehicle a great deal on asphalt as well as off-road? A lot goes into tires and everyone wants the magical, do-it-all tire that’s cheap too. This just isn’t the case and as the one thing that makes or a breaks an off-road vehicle (after all, where would we be without grip), tires should be top on the list for a quality product. I personally run Falken Wildpeak AT3W’s on my Bronco as it is a fantastic tire that has excellent road manners, holds its own in the rain and snow and grips up well on the Rubicon. They do ride a bit stiff though as a trade off even with a lower PSI.

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#2: Winch/Recovery gear. Again, if you’re out in the wilderness, off-roading without service, you need to be prepared with equipment. This equipment is what you will trust to get you out of whatever predicament you’re in. Get yourself a solid winch, recovery straps, soft shackles, snatch blocks and what have you. Don’t skimp out and avoid the purchase. Avoid crappy brands and look up Badlands, Warn, Super Winch, Sherpa, etc. I’ve used a Badlands for years without issue, same with a Warn. Other brands that I tried failed on their first use… Stick with the tried and true and spend a little money. Oh, and please for your own safety learn how to use your equipment. Matt’s Off-Road Recovery doesn’t count. Take a class, find a friend with experience or youtube quality tutorials at the least. Don’t let that one time you’re in a bad spot be the time you have to do a double line pull, with a snatch block on a cliff’s edge with your friend standing between the line and you’ve never unspooled your line before.

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#3: Suspension. This one is going to be a bit more debated and I’ll have to explain myself a little more as the text doesn’t always convey well. I am not saying that you have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on suspension. I am saying that you shouldn’t cheap out. Does that make sense? If not, I’ll explain further in the following paragraph.

Suspension, mainly regarding coil-overs, shocks, leaf springs, etc are tuned to vehicle weight, style, and preference as well as terrain. A shock is like an expensive suit. You tailor a suit for your body style, right? Well the same for shocks. You tune them to your vehicle and style. A shock is subject to an insane amount of abuse in harsh climates. Cheap parts will not last long term. They also may not ride well if they are not tuned to your specific application. That $50 shock may feel fine on street driving but once you take it out in the whoops or expose it to some heat you’ll blow its seals in no time. I am not saying you need to buy a set of $5,000 Kings, Radflo’s or ADS. Heck, 4WP makes one of the best bang for the buck coil-over’s I’ve ever seen right now. They are rebuildable, adjustable, they ride well off and on-road. Shoot, they even got rid of the fancy piggyback resi that 90% of people won’t ever need to save money for ya. Buy a shock that is tuned for your vehicle application or able to be tuned. Spend the time and research making sure that what you are getting will work. After all, its not a try on and return deal here. I have personally made the mistake on my Jeep of trying the cheapest stuff first… I limped off the Rubicon, parts clanking and bolts coming loose. I did a bit better with my Bronco 😉 Remember, off-roading isn’t easy. I recommend learning how a lot of this stuff works so you can repair yourself on the trail. Off-road shops are cool but can basically cause you to rely on them. Then what happens when you’re stuck on a trail and have no idea how to re-bead a tire, remove a shock, or replace your axle shaft? Take the time, research, and buy what’s best for you. Not the most expensive, but not the cheapest.

Okay, now into the top 3 things that don’t make sense to me…

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#1: Lights. Okay. Let’s face it. Most of us just buy the lights for fashion. We spend $3,000 on lights but want to cheap out on suspension or a winch. The vast majority of us will never do real night runs. I’m not talking about driving at night on a rural road. I’m talking about tight trails, sleeting rain, thick fog, snow blizzard, etc. Fighting the elements for fun at night, needing to see for dangerous recoveries or see the vehicle in front of us or the trail way ahead cause we are driving 60 mph + off-road at 2am.

Lights are important and do have a place, but let’s not put lights before lockers. A simple set of ditch lights and some amber flush mounts will get the average wheeler by. Heck, you could just buy a 2x set of combo lights mounted to your bumper and call it a day if you do insist on spending money. A set of LP6’s or HP.70’s are all most people need for some crazy good lights without going all out on light bars and such. But hey, I get it. Light bars are super cool and so are lights in general. If you want all the lights, you do you. It’s your rig, make it cool.

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#2: Rooftop Tents. I said it. I don’t get em. You’re adding a minimum of 80 lbs, though more like 130 lbs in most cases, to the roof of your vehicle. That isn’t even counting the required roof rack that weighs another 150 lbs. That’s closing the gap to 300 lbs on the roof of your vehicle. This raises the center of gravity, reduces your efficiency and costs an ungodly amount of money just to sleep. A ground tent is simple, doesn’t take up a lot of space and saves soooo much money. Or grab a Meraki hammock like me and sleep inside your Bronco!

Now I do like the idea of an RTT and may one day get one for a truck bed. But only at the right price and never on the roof of my Bronco. My poor dog would be traumatized if he couldn’t sleep with me.

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#3: Off-Road battery setups. Now here I’m talking mainly about permanent battery solutions like Redarc systems. They are insanely expensive, take up room, and, are quite frankly, not needed by the average off-roader. I call this: Overland Overboard. I personally quite love having my little battery pack from Harbor Freight or other brands. The external battery packs to power our fridge, drone batteries, etc are quite handy. But like the vast majority of Bronco owners, I am a family man. I bring my family and dog on my adventures, I don’t have room for a dedicated electrical system, nor do I have the money. They are insanely cool, don’t get me wrong. But seriously, does anyone even need one of these setups?

Now for the honorable mention: Armor.

I was going to place armor in the top 3 expensive items but then got to thinking. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on armor to protect the vitals. So while I place armor as one of my top 3 mods to purchase first, it doesn’t qualify as expensive for me.

Well, thats it folks, cool your ash and pack your trash!

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