So, you’ve just become the proud owner of a Jeep — congratulations! Jeeps are some of the world’s most capable off-road vehicles, so you’ll probably be excited to throw your new ride in four-wheel and tackle some trails. Before you do, however, there are a few things to think about.
What kind of off-road driving will you be doing with your Jeep? Does it have to be a daily driver as well, or do you want to transform your vehicle into an all-out rock-crawler? If you’re not sure just yet, that’s alright. Here are a few suggestions about ways to improve your Jeep’s off-road capability without sacrificing too much in the road manners department.
Wheels and Tires
During my recent trip to Virginia, I had the opportunity to test Firestone’s new Destination MT2 off-road tire. The trip really left an impression about what the right tire can bring to an off-road vehicle. Compared to the stock rubber, the new Firestones slipped less and dug our Jeep Rubicons out of sloppy terrain with remarkable ease.
A new set of tires for your Jeep can enhance traction and looks, and even give you a slight increase in ride height. Make sure to check with your tire supplier to see if you can fit the new tires on your factory wheels.
Protective plating is an essential addition to any serious off-roader. Often referred to as “skid plates,” these armor pieces defend your Jeep’s oil pan and other soft elements from sharp rocks on the trail. That means you have a better chance of driving away from an impact, instead of getting towed out and spending all night getting home.
For additional protection, you can add rock sliders to the side of your vehicle. These are similar to running boards, but are more substantial and attach to your Jeep’s frame, deflecting impacts that would otherwise hit sheet metal.
Winch and Compressor
Another great addition to any trail-ready Jeep is a winch. A winch mounted to your bumper allows you to attach to something sturdy near the trail and pull yourself out of a difficult situation. It can be essential to getting over technical obstacles.
Similarly convenient, an air compressor mounted to your Jeep will allow you to air down your tires when you hit the trail, and then air them up again for the drive home.
When the Dust Settles
When the Dust Settles
Even with all the preparation in the world, taking your Jeep off-road has its risks. You should always be sure to clean your Jeep well after a day on the trail. This will reveal anything you might miss, such as chips or cracks to your windshield, and keep your Jeep’s finish looking good. Also, examine your tires to be sure they did not tear.
As you learn more about your local terrain, you might choose to install a snorkel or sand tires on your Jeep to maximize its potential, but you’ll be pretty impressed with what these trucks will do with just a few modifications. It’s no wonder they’ve been America’s favorite off-highway vehicle since the ‘50s.