Tackle the Road Less Traveled – Turn Your Truck into a Real Off-road Vehicle

So, your first step in tackling the miles of barely driven paths in Colorado may have been purchasing that truck, jeep, or SUV you’ve always wanted. It might have huge wheels and it looks great sitting in your driveway or at a spotlight, but turning your truck into a real off- roading behemoth might mean installing aftermarket parts that can make the difference between flat tires, broken axles, and poor steering performance in the places where you’ll need it most.

For many of your improvements you can find used truck parts or used 4×4 parts to repair or enhance your off-roading experience. Here are just a few of the upgrades you might want to tackle Colorado’s great outdoors.

Where the Rubber Meets the Off-Road

The large tires on your truck or SUV are probably designed as much for appearance as they are for performance. Most market tires are built for adequate street travel in a variety of pavement conditions. Though they may be large, chances are they are limited in their ability to handle off-road conditions that can include mud, pits, and water, as well as tangled roots, rocks, and stumps. Installing all-terrain or mud-terrain tires can help you match your tire handling with your destination.

These tires include tough sidewalls to protect them from jagged rocks or whatever interrupts the road. They also have deep tread and durable rubber to give you the confidence to go wherever your heart desires. Is this case, bigger really is better. Many off-roaders use 33 or 35 inch tires that are appropriately “aired-down” to increase the traction between the rubber and the road.

Wheel Locking for More Power

When you purchase a new or used truck, chances are the wheels feature open differential. This means that the wheel with the least traction receives the most power from the drive train. Brake lock differentials use the calipers of the spinning wheel to distribute the most power to that wheel, increasing power and traction to help get you out of a sticky situation. Pneumatic and solenoid lockers ensure that the two wheels on an axle are locked to spin at the same rate. This distributes the torque proportionally keep you from getting stuck.

Open differential locking mechanisms help vehicles take turns and straightaways with maximu efficiency, but going fast or hugging the pavement on a turn isn’t always what you need in uneven, muddy, or rocky terrain. When choosing your aftermarket parts, consider whether or not your vehicle will do heavy on-road travel. There are locking mechanisms that can provide optimum tire traction in the wilderness and still keep you safe on the highways and byways of Colorado.

Optimal Stability

Image courtesy of Nick Taylor via Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Nick Taylor via Flickr.

Once your wheels learn to hug the off-road to get your through pits, mud puddles, and knotty earth, you need to make sure that your wheel articulation is matched by a solid axle. Many lighter vehicles, including many trucks, feature independent suspension that includes CV joints with rubber boots that can easily be damaged in an off-road situation. For Rocky Mountain off-road terrain, including a solid axle can help make sure you maximize traction and wheel control on the rockiest and muddiest of roads.

It is important to remember to find only top quality used truck parts if you choose to save money on your off-road rebuild. Solid axles help you navigate rough terrain better, but on flat surfaces they can inhibit your speed and place the frame and cab of your vehicle in danger by forcing it to take on too much of the suspension duty. An axle swap with aftermarket parts is only recommended for trucks, jeeps, and SUVs that are primarily going to be used as off-road vehicles.

Accessorize for Safety and Performance

Once you’ve stabilized you vehicle for off-road conditions, you’ll want to consider other enhancements. These can include major changes like adding an engine with low-end torque and a transmission with low range gearing. You will also need to restore or enhance your vehicle’s accessories with the right aftermarket parts. These can include the basics like headlights, taillights, and fenders, or the right accessories to increase your visibility and let everyone know you mean business.

There are a number of additions that you’ll need when you decide to turn your truck or SUV into a real all-terrain vehicle. When you add light mounts or lift kits, you’ll be able to tackle the toughest conditions with style. Custom seat covers can protect your interior from the elements, and the wisest off-roaders only travel into the great outdoors with the right recovery kit, including straps, winches, welders, and snatch blocks. Remember to replace parts when needed so that you can stay “off” the road with the highest degree of safety and performance.

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