4WD Accessories should make your vehicle more reliable, comfortable, capable or functional. Don't listen to those who say you need a big lift kit and tyres, or a set in their ways. Your 4WD should be modified to suit what you want to do. If it does that, then you have the perfect 4WD.
What is the minimum you should have before heading off road?
There are some very important items you need to have before you take your 4WD off road. It is mind boggling the number of people that take their vehicles off road with zero recovery gear, and often no understanding of how to use a 4WD in the first place!. A shovel, tyre gauge, 12V Compressor, Snatch Strap, Rated Recovery Points and some knowledge of tyre pressures and activating 4WD mode are the minimum. If you head off road without these, expect to struggle, and potentially do damage to your 4WD.
What else can I add to my 4WD?
Of course, there are hundreds of other accessories, and with that in mind, feel free to have a gander at the posts I've written below. In general, a modification should make your vehicle more comfortable, capable, functional or reliable. If it doesn't do one of those four things, why are you doing it?
I mentioned above that recovery points are a part of the 'must have' 4WD accessories before you go off road. If you get stuck without recovery points, you will have a very, very difficult time getting your car out of trouble without doing damage to it. As a minimum, you need one rated recovery point on the rear and one on the front.
I'd go as far as to say that Tyre Pressures are the most important factor involve in 4WDing. You need to understand what reducing tyre pressures means for traction. If you are happy to kneel down for a minute or 2 on each tyre poking the valve with a stick, then you can do without a deflator. However, if you are impatient like me, and would rather spend that 10 minutes relaxing on the beach, get yourself a Tyre Deflator!
If you are chasing a top quality set of seat covers, you can't go past the Ruffnuts and Tuffnuts range. Funny name, but serious product!
If you are running a turbo diesel 4WD, Gturbo will boggle your mind. With custom, aftermarket turbo's, ECU tuning and everthing else related to Turbo Diesel Power, these guys know their stuff.
I've tried most of the deflators on the market, and have come back to the ARB EZ Deflator. They are quick, easy to use and accurate. Nothing beats quality gear, and you can't go past ARB for these.
One method of tyre deflation is to use the Staun Deflators. These are set to a particular pressure, and you just screw them onto the valve. They will deflate the tyre to the preset pressure, and then you unscrew them, but the caps back on and you are ready to go.
Every 4WD should carry a 4WD Recovery kit. Whether its one you have built up, or it was purchased as a package, good quality gear to get you out of a sticky situation should not be taken lightly.
One of the most common pieces of recovery equipment found in a 4WD is the Snatch Strap. These are heavy duty straps that can stretch up to about 20%, allowing a bogged vehicle to be recovered easily. Please be aware that these can be very dangerous when used incorrectly, and have killed more than a handful of people.
When most people get stuck, the go to recovery item is a snatch strap. However, if you'd seen Maxtrax in use, I'm sure you would have a new favorite recovery method. These are the quickest, safest and easiest way to recover a stuck 4WD.
Maxtrax released their second model of recovery tracks some time ago, and they are excellent. If you haven't got a set of Maxtrax, I'd highly recommend them; the safest, quickest and easiest way to recover a stuck 4WD.
Some accessories are attached to a 4WD purely as cheap insurance. One of the most vulnerable parts of a 4WD is the sills (under the doors). If you do any rock work, you would have seen how close the rocks can come to your panels. I hope you've never smashed a panel under the doors, or you would have found out how expensive they are to have repaired. Rock sliders are essentially heavy duty side steps that are designed to support the weight of your 4WD and stop and sill damage.
You know that feeling, rummaging through a pile of gear thrown into the back of your four wheel drive late at night, struggling to find what you want? It doesn't have to be like this! LED technology has come in leaps and bounds, and you can cheaply, easily and permanently fix your lighting issues.
By now, most 4WD's have some form of LED lighting on them. LED's are cheap, bright, draw little power, don't get hot and are extremely durable. If you are looking at improving your driving lights, installing a work light or improving the interior lighting, you need to look at 12V LED Lights.
The most common way of communicating when you are out 4WDing is via the UHF Radio (or CB radio). These are relatively inexpensive, and allow you to speak to other vehicles a considerable distance apart. They are great for communication, but also provide an element of safety to your 4WDing. If you'd like to know more about UHF Radio's, click here.
Before you take your 4WD through any water at all, you need to make sure you have extended breathers. If you don't, there is a very real chance water will end up in the differentials, which will cost you big $$$ in the future. Take the time and get a set of Diff Breathers (they are only cheap) and your wallet will be very glad you did!
When you are driving off road, the rear of your vehicle is extremely vulnerable to panel damage. If you fit a long range tank, you lose the ability to store your spare tyre underneath, and if you want to carry 2 spares, you are limited to choices. For these reasons, Rear Bars are very popular 4WD modifications,
For some reason, no matter who you travel with, one always seems to run out of space inside a 4WD! It's for this reason that Roof Racks are so popular. Anything that is bulky but light weight can easily be stored on the roof racks, giving you ample room inside the vehicle.
Regardless of how powerful your engine, how big your tyres are and how many inches of suspension lift you have, if you aren't able to get the wheels driving on a 4WD you have massive limitations. Eaton Harrop ELockers lock both axles in a differential together, so you get instant, 100% traction. I've got front and rear ELockers in my 80 Series, and have been very happy with them.
If you've been 4WDing before, there's a good chance you would have seen a winch used. These are the ultimate recovery device, and can be used without the need of a second 4WD. If you are doing serious 4WDing, or solo 4WDing, you can't go passed a good quality 4WD Winch.
Mud Tyres are generally the most aggressive looking tyres you will see on a 4WD that is used on road. They are brilliant in mud, great on rocks and reasonable on other terrains. They tend to last longer than all terrains or road terrains too, but do have their negatives.
One of the most common modification on a 4WD is to replace the suspension. From the factory, 4WD's just don't have the travel, load capacity or comfort level most people seek when they head out bush.
You should never take your 4WD off road without ample water on board. It's not very convenient to have a huge pile of 2 litre drink containers with you, which is why most people will fit a water storage device.
However you modify your 4WD, you have the responsibility of ensuring it complies with your state regulations. A very obvious sign of a modified 4WD is when the tyres stick outside of the guards. This allows them to flick stones up, and you will get chipped panels in no time. Do yourself a favour, and fit a set of 4WD flares to protect your 4WD, and those driving around you.
One of the most used 4WD accessories I have, is the rear wheel bag. This is a great addition to any 4WD, and allows you to keep smelly rubbish outside of your 4WD. It also gives you a great spot to keep wet and muddy recovery gear, and fishing gear that smells. If you haven't got a Rear Wheel Bag, I'd highly recommend the investment.
Ute's are a very popular option when it comes to 4WDing, and its no wonder why; they offer so many advantages over a wagon. If you set the canopy up well, they can be extremely functional 4WD's.
When you purchase a 4WD, the standard exhaust it comes with restricts the air flow. A quality aftermarket exhaust will improve your fuel economy, give you more power and a nice note! Beaudesert are an extremely reputable exhaust fabricator and have been in the business for a very long time.
Some 4WD's come as full time 4WD, meaning the engine's power is distributed to all 4 wheels, rather than just rear wheel drive like the majority of 4WD's. If you have a 4WD that is in constant 4WD, you should be able to fit a part time kit. This is done for a number of reasons, which I go into in this post.
Everyone can pack the rear of their 4WD's up nicely, like the perfect game of Tetris. The problem though, is if you have to slam the brakes on at any time, you could be killed when it all comes flying forward at a rate of knots. A cargo barrier is imperative for you and your passengers safety.
When you head out for a day (or more) of 4WDing, you want to be comfortable. The more comfortable you are the more you will enjoy yourself, and the more likely you are to head out again. There's nothing worse than struggling to find some shade when you stop for lunch, or a bit of protection from the weather. 4WD Awnings come in a range of different sizes and shapes, but all provide protection from the weather.
If you own a diesel 4WD, the one accessory you should fit is an EGT Gauge. This is an Exhaust Gas Temperature monitor, and it essentially gives you an instant read out of how your vehicle's engine is performing. It is cheap insurance, and you know the milisecond it is running hotter than it should be. If you lose oil, coolant or have fuel problems, it will show immediately and you have the time to react and stop any permanent and expensive damage.
I cringe every time I see a full length steel roof rack bolted to the top of a 4WD. Do you know what they weigh? Some of them are well over half the roof capacity. If you want a full length roof rack, get one in aluminium. They are just as strong, but weigh much, much less.
Australia is a big place. Not just big, it is massive. A lot of 4WD's in Australia have long range fuel tanks, as you need to carry enough fuel to travel these extensive distances. A Long Range Fuel tank is also able to save you money, as you can skip the small, expensive towns in favour of the big cities a few hundred km's down the road.
A Bull Bar is another very common accessory on 4WD's in Australia, as a means of protection and a place to mount winches, antenna's and lights. When mining and commercial companies choose to fit ARB Bull Bars to their vehicles, you know they are a top quality product.
Tyre pressures are probably the most critical part of 4WDing. In order to adjust them for the terrain you are driving on, you need a 12V Compressor. These run off the vehicles battery and allow you to inflate your tyres as required.
For those who don't regularly travel extensive distances, a long range fuel tank may be an unnecessary modification. A lot of people get away with carrying Portable Fuel tanks, or Jerry Cans as they are most commonly referred to in Australia.
ARB have been making air lockers for many years now, and they are used in thousands of vehicles across the world. They are operated via a compressor, and connect both axles together, giving you maximum traction from the differential they have been fitted to.
If you own a 4WD, there's a good chance you will have a couple of ratchet straps in the back. Gone are the days of tying knots in ropes to secure items on your 4WD's. Ratchet straps are cheap, strong and simple to use.
A decent percentage of 4WD's have the ability to run either entirely or partly on LPG. You can get petrol/LPG, where the vehicle runs on one fuel or the other, or Diesel/LPG Conversions, where about 70% diesel is used, and 30%LPG.
After owning a Hilux for a number of years, I became very familiar with the different methods of gaining more clearance.
The wheels (or rims) that your 4WD runs play a vital role. You can get a range of different styles, in aluminium or steel.
Maxxis Bighorn are a style of Mud Terrain Tyre that I ran on My Hilux. They are a great tyre, that don't cost the earth!