Off-Roading 101: 4×4 modifications

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A bullbar up front as well as a sump guard prevents damage to the body and engine while trailing

A bullbar up front as well as a sump guard prevents damage to the body and engine while trailing

THERE are many ways in preparing your vehicle to become off-road ready. Your project vehicle, be it a brandnew stock vehicle, or a used-classic off-roader, can undergo modifications to improve both its form and function. Although it’s all part of the hobby, to see your car built-up from scratch, adding too much modifications can lead to unnecessary costs as well as extra weight which can slow your car down. Keep in mind that it is always good to keep your off-roader looking pristine at all times, the fact is, your vehicle, most of the time, is headed for harm’s way.

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Let’s begin with having an overall perspective on 4X4 modifications. When you modify or upgrade your 4X4’s performance, it doesn’t just involve the engine. There are many other aspect that needs to be addressed. Foremost is protection for both the driver and the vehicle. Whenever you go off-roading, it is but natural for scrapes, scratches and dings, to be part of the experience. To lessen this occurrence, a number of protection components need to be installed.

We have mentioned before and will mention it again, personal and vehicle protection is very important. Whenever you go off-roading, you must always have the proper recovery equipment onhand. And if you want your vehicle to last and perform longer, a vehicle protection system is required.

Water seepage is a normal occurence in off-roading

Water seepage is a normal occurence in off-roading

The vehicle protection system entails providing steel bars or plates to the vehicle’s front and rear bumpers, fenders, underside and cabin. Steel bars protect the front and back from bumping into rocks, trees and earth along the trail. More complex protection systems include rock slider bars, fender lean bars, sump guards and tree trunk protectors. On the more extreme side, some people install external roll cages. But even with all these protection, there is still no assurance for total protection as driver error can still come into play.

Do remember that all the protection gear that you install will result in a lot of added weight to the vehicle which will surely impede the performance of the engine, suspension and weight and balance. But needless to say, these modifications not only saves property, but lives, as well.

To a newby in the sport, nothing can be more disturbing than mechanical trouble inside the trails—and it is for this reason that engine and mechanical protection is also important to maintain the vehicle’s mobility on its own; this is the next step in modification.

Mechanical/engine protection begins with water protection. With most 4WD vehicle buyers, their priority in chosing a good 4X4 vehicle is its ability to cross deep waters; be it river crossings or flooded roads. Modifications on petrol engines without computer controls it starts with the installation of a raised air intake, or snorkel in off-road slang, wherein the air intake of the engine is raised usually at roof level to prevent the engine from sucking in water that will result into hydro locking the engine—this usually results in a engine rebuild. The next procedure is to raise the breather hose of both differential axle and the transmission, also to prevent water from seeping into the drive gears. Water seeping into the drive gears eventually cause gear and bearing failure because the lubricants are contaminated with water.

After all that protection, the next thing to consider is protecting the interior of the vehicle from flooding in deep water. Nothing can be more annoying than the smell of a wet carpet mixed with the stench of brackish canal water. Very little can be done with this as most vehicles are hermetically sealed up to a certain point.. The key in preventing water seapage into the cabin is to keep on moving to prevent water from finding a gap or hole that it can creep into.

Follow us on this colum as we tackle other types of modifications in future articles. Remember, safety and protection mods first.

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