Building an Off-Roader
If you haven’t read Automologist ATHERTON’s article on What’s Your Dream Off-Roader, start there. If you have, here’s what to do next.
Assuming that you already have your 4×4 sorted out, the next step is adding the necessary items and gear so that it can perform at its best. The first thing you should do, or rather, must do, is getting the suspension right. Your 4×4 would have been using the same suspension kit as when it first rolled out of the factory some 100,000 kilometres ago. The suspension is the first thing you need to change. It will give you the proper setup and feel. Change the absorbers, front and rear springs, u-bolts, shackles and pins, and other necessary stuff.
Building an off-roader takes time, effort and, of course, cash. But all these are variables to make your project a success.
There are many brands out there like Tough Dog, OME and Dobinsons to name a few. Most of these aftermarket suspensions are made in Australia where the terrain is absolutely suitable for testing the effectiveness of the suspension. Suspensions are designed and engineered to deliver a complete suspension solution, not only for off-road clearance, but for ride quality, handling and load-carrying capabilities as well.
A good suspension setup is key.
Image credit : toughdog.com.au
Once the suspension is sorted, go get yourself a nice set of rubbers (not that kind). Keep your current set of tyres which you can use while driving on highways and town use, but also get a set of MT (Mud Terrain) tyres which you can change when going off road. There are many good brands out there, like Maxxis, Cooper Tires, Toyo and others. There’s another brand called Thunderer, which is made in Thailand and they’re as quiet as an AT (All Terrain) tyre.
After the tyres, you’ll need to invest in bumpers. A front bumper that has a space to slot in a winch is a good choice. Rear bumpers with Jerry can holders and spare tyre holder are going to make your life easier. Skid plates protect the underside of your vehicle when you go over rocks or small logs. Having your off-roader completed with a roll cage is wise, in case you roll over, as it will help protect the occupants from disaster.
A heavy-duty roof rack will assist you in carrying essentials like camping gear, clothes, tyres and other items. You can also latch on your farm jack to the side of the roof rack. Heavy duty side-steps will be an added advantage when you need to climb up and down from the side to get stuff off the roof rack. It also provides an elevation point should you want to tie down loose items.
Snorkels are also necessary as it moves the air engine intake from under the bonnet to roof height. Less chance of water entering the engine when crossing rivers and access to cleaner and cooler air. It will also reduce the amount of dust entering the system. The ram in a way ‘rams’ air into the engine by using the vehicle’s forward motion rather than the engine sucking air in.
Bumpers, winches, lights, tyres…the whole nine yards.
Recovery gears are as important as everything above. Crucial, I tell ya. Winches, tow straps, snatch blocks, shackles and the likes are a MUST if you’re off-roading. You never know what can happen and when. You may think that this would be additional weight and cumbersome. It is, in a way, but extremely important.
There you have it. Just a few (yeah) things you need to prepare before you begin your adventure. Get a friend who has experienced these kinds of excursions to go with you.
Happy off-roading, chaps!