Iíve put together the top 5, must-have Jeep Wrangler modifications. Some people may have differing opinions, but after owning 8 jeeps, and being stranded overnight in the middle of nowhere more than once, I think my opinion pulls some weight.
Donít believe anyone who tells you that a winch is not the single most important thing a Jeeper can have. The winch trumps every other item on this list, and for many reasons. There are so many benefits and uses that not having a winch is just foolish.
You may be wondering how it will benefit you and your vehicle. For those who donít know, a winch is a towing device used in recovery situations.
Jeepers need a good winch when going on a trip with their friends. If one of you gets stuck in a tight place and cannot get your vehicle out, a winch is often your only solution to free a stuck vehicle. If a Jeep rolls, a winch is the only way to save the jeep. A winch gets you home. A winch gets your friends home. A winch gets that stranger on the side of the road home. If you can only buy ONE item, make it a winch. You will thank me later.
Please note I didnít say M/T tires, or Toyo tires. I really mean appropriate tires for your regular off highway environment. If you do a serious amount of mudding or live at high altitudes, perhaps mud and snow tires are your best bet. If you Jeep is a weekend warrior, and you use it as a daily driver Monday through Friday, A/T tires are probably more appropriate, and they arguably perform better off road then the M/Tís anyhow. Know what your typical outing is going to look like, and upgrade accordingly. Standard rock crawlers do well with M/T or A/T tires, but if you really like to get dirty and try to get stuck in the mud, then you might want to consider a swamper tire. Size matters here too. If you go much bigger than your stock tires, you will probably want to re-gear the differential. This process is not as hard or expensive as it seems, so donít worry about it until you cross that bridge.
This is often the most common ďfirstĒ item that Jeep enthusiasts get, and rightly so. Adding a lift to your Jeep increases clearance, breakover angle, approach angle, and departure angle. The benefits are obvious: drive over bigger things without getting stuck. In some cases it also helps driving through water crossings without getting wet. A proper lift is essential when taking your Jeep off-road. I still rate winch #1, but lift is a very close second. Winch gets you home. Lift gets you there in the first place. When choosing a lift, be mindful of the type of wheeling you plan to do. If you are desert-running at 50 miles per hour, a solid coil over system is best. If you are slow poking it through deep water or large boulders, a basic spring lift will be sufficient, if not desired. Also consider what size and type of tires you are going with, and adjust your lift size accordingly.
This one made it onto my list even though some people may never use their jeep for rock crawling. It was a tough call, but in the end I added it to the list for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, rock sliders protect your Jeep. They are the best piece of armor you can have, and as a bonus they double as a step. They also can be used as a winch recovery point should you flop or roll your Jeep. Itís very convenient to have a side recovery point, and rockers are ideal. Also, they protect against more than rocks. Trees, other Jeeps, even that car in the parking lot that swings their door open too hardÖ extra protection for your Jeep, and a worthy addition to the list.
Some newer model JK Jeep Wranglers come with differential lockers, but that is the exception and not the rule. Most Jeeps do not have factory lockers, so I highly recommend getting them installed if you plan on doing anything moderately challenging. For those who donít know, lockers cause both wheels to spin identical to the other, thus improving traction in low traction settings. There has been many a time my wheels have started to spin and I just hit the locker button and poof, not stuck any more. For an added bonus, if you get an air locker system, you can have onboard air as well to inflate your tires and run pneumatic tools should you wish.
With the addition of the JK in the Jeep lineup, the last two items on my list come standard on the Rubicon model. With that in mind, if you own a Rubicon, I would consider adding upgraded bumpers and rock lights, instead of lockers and rock rails. No matter what parts you choose to upgrade your Jeep, remember to make it your own, and have a great time on the trail.
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