Okay where do you start? You have just bought your 4×4 & want to start driving it off road & your thinking what modifications do I need to do? Well I can help you with some info on where to start. Lets start with a little about me. To begin with I don’t claim to be an expert in 4x4s, or anything for that matter but what I am is an ordinary guy who has a love of 4x4s & offroad driving. I thought about how helpful it would have been for me in the beginning, to have found one website with all the basic info I needed to get started rather than trawling the net for hours on end. So here we are on www.offroad4x4s.com I started this website to help others experience the same passion & enjoyment I had while avoiding many of the common mistakes & pitfalls. Please note: Anything on this website is my own personal view & opinion, learnt through years of trail & error & experience.
Tyres & suspension
So as your still reading this I’m guessing you want your 4×4 to be a little more capable than your standard out of the box 4×4? Everybody else you know is modifying their 4×4 so to follow in their tracks literally, you need to modify too. The most basic modification is to change the tryes to a mud terrain or at the least you should fit a good all terrain. This should be your first modification, but be warned this will get addictive. Deciding between a mud terrain & an all terrain will be down to a few things like usage of the vehicle & how good you want it be in the mud & different types of terrain. As you can imagine a mud terrain will be better in the mud than an all terrain but an all terrain will be better on the road & what you choose will be down to your personal situation. Will you only use it off road or will it be your daily driver? Also what type of terrain will you be driving & where? If you spend most of your time driving in off road sites then you will most likely need mud terrain but if you happen to be doing an expedition then you will want an all terrain.
Now to tyre size, you can change the tyres for the same size as standard & this will give you much more grip & better capabilities off road & you won’t have to make any more modifications, no extra modifications that’s the advantage of not increasing tyre size. The disadvantage is you won’t have increased your ground clearance & won’t be able to drive deeper ruts very easily & will most likely have to try & straddle to sides for fear of grounding out. Most people that modify their 4×4 will fit larger size tyres to increase ground clearance & as a result the ground you drive will have been driven by them increasing the depth of any ruts you come across. This will really only be an issue if you plan on driving off road sites & some green lanes but this is something I’m sure you will want to do at some point. After all once you have got the bug there will be no stopping you, be it a gentle drive in the country enjoying a green lane with the dog in the back or something more challenging like a pay & play day. The most common larger size tyre to fit is a 31″ 32″ 33″ & 35″. Some of these will require some modifications to be able to drive with this size fitted but this depends on your 4×4. For example on a small Suzuki you will most definitely need some extra modification to run larger sizes, on Mitsubishi Shoguns pretty sure you can fit 33″ on a standard vehicle. Land Rover Defenders should be ok up to around 33″ but may get some catching offroad depending on how wide they are. On Land Rover Discovery’s & Classic Range Rovers you will have to fit a minimum 2″ suspension lift, most commonly done using +2″ springs on most 4x4s. It can also be done using 2″ spring spacers but not worth the effort in my opinion, especially when +2″ springs are readily available for little expense & will give a much better result. You can also use a 2″ body lift but I would reserve that for a later date when you get really serious & need even more lift. For the 2″ springs you will also need to fit some +2″ shocks for the extra articulation, if you think about it +2″ springs will need 2″ longer shocks. One more thing you will need is some +2″ front braided brake lines as each wheel will now have an extra 2″ of travel (drop) & you don’t want to rip off a brake line. There is a cheaper way & that is to unbolt the brake line bracket off, usually fitted somewhere on the inner wing & make a longer bracket effectively lowering the brake lines by 2 inches. Your 4×4 should be now ready for some action.
Okay so now you have fitted the suspension lift & some larger tyres. You now want to go have some fun in your newly modified 4×4, however now is a good time to think about some under body protection. No point in having your 4×4 out in a 4×4 play site only to bash your diff in as soon as you start to play ruining your day. So what do you need to buy next? Well the first thing to buy would be a diff guard, for the rear, front or both if needed. These are not normally expensive is basic form & well worth the extra cash for piece of mind. While your shopping you should also look at buying a steering guard to protect your steering from being bent on some nasty rock, I would say this is more important than a rear diff guard if cash is tight. The diff & steering guards are your basic protection & all you need to get started out. You can however always benefit from some extra protection like some rock/tree sliders, this is something I didn’t fit & in the early days managed to bash a sill in. So if funds allow I would recommend to fit some. There are also tank guards available to protect the fuel tank, again something I didn’t fit & managed to dent the flimsy Range Rover one that is fitted actually denting the plastic fuel tank. If you have fitted some protection your 4×4 is now truly ready to go off road without any further modifications. On some 4x4s depending on the suspension set up & the way which it is built, you may not even need these forms of protection but something different. Some of the newer types of 4x4s like Current Range Rover & Discovery will only need some extra protection plates underneath like on the “Land Rover Experience” models. You will need to get underneath & take a good look at your set up to determine whats needed for your particular 4×4.
Wading your off road 4×4 is no doubt something you will want to do at some point in your adventures. Lets face it, there is something kind of exciting about driving a motor vehicle through some deep water & for some of us the deeper the better. Now I know Land Rover already say it’s fine to drive through deep water up to the recommended wading depth which is about half way up the wheel. In reality this isn’t really that deep in the world of off roading & people will always want to go deeper. This is the point at which you need to start thinking about making some more modifications. The first & most important thing to fit is a raised air intake or as they are more commonly known a snorkel, these are a must for deep water wading. You then have piece of mind that you aren’t going to suck water into your engine through the standard air intake. Further waterproofing is then needed if you drive an older petrol 4×4, the distributor is the weak point here. You can buy waterproofing kits for some 4x4s so you will need to look into this for your particular model. If you drive a more modern petrol then you will have coil packs etc & these should be waterproof, if you look in links at the Megasquirt website this is the basis for waterproofing Rover V8′s. Diesels, well these shouldn’t be a problem with waterproofing as they use no spark plugs etc. All you should be concerned about is making sure your snorkel is sealed up properly, getting water in a diesel engine can mean the end!
Now the basics have been covered your ready to hit the sticky stuff……have fun!
Check back soon for more info as I cover more topics on modifying.