When you are thinking about modifying your Four Wheel Drive, one of the first brand names that comes to mind is ARB. ARB is a massive international business that manufactures almost every modification and accessory that you can throw at your vehicle. This ranges from Bull bars through to Air Lockers and Recovery Equipment. ARB is very well known and recognized as one of the better 4×4 Accessory suppliers out there.
Why modify your vehicle?
When you purchase a Four Wheel Drive in its standard form, it’s easy to see that it isn’t set up very well for four wheel driving. Having come from an Australian background, ARB knows how important it is to make products that will stand up to the harsh Australian environment. If you take a Four Wheel Drive with standard suspension over the thousands of kilometres of gravel roads, beaches and rocky conditions that Australia has to offer you will soon know why modifications are vital. Not only do they make your vehicle safer, but they make it more reliable, more comfortable and more practical. The list of modifications to your vehicle is endless, but having even the start of the list is vital before doing anything serious!
The history of ARB
The ARB origins began back in 1975, when the founder, Tony Brown, travelled through the top end of Australia in a 4×4. Modifications back then were usually home made, and as a result not all of it was designed with the quality required to last! Today, even Four Wheel Drives that are well set up for driving on corrugated roads suffer, let alone those that are not designed to handle it! Tony spent many hours working on his Series 1 Land Rover, which came in handy when people of Northern Australia required repair work to their Four Wheel Drives.
When Tony arrived back in Melbourne, he spent considerable time addressing some of the problems that were identified with 4×4 Modifications on his trip. From then, ARB (Anthony Ronald Brown) was founded. In Australia today, ARB is the largest manufacturer and distributor of 4×4 Accessories. ARB has a large presence in USA and their products are sold throughout the world. However, the philosophy has not changed – ‘Quality, reliability and practicality above all else’.
It is obvious that ARB 4×4 makes some top quality products; just look at the brands of bull bars most commonly fitted to Australian Four Wheel Drives. Even Commercial and Government vehicles are most often fitted with these bars, because they are built to last a lifetime.
ARB has a huge range of 4×4 Accessories on the market, which you can see below. Of course, not every vehicle needs everything on this list, but many are important for touring and serious four wheel driving. ARB manufactures products designed for specific Vehicle Models, which is a part of the reason they are so popular. Even when a new Four Wheel Drive comes out, ARB is usually the first to come out with the accessories that bolt straight on.
ARB Protection Equipment
Protecting your Four Wheel Drive is vital when it comes to travelling anywhere, which is where ARB 4×4 comes in. You can purchase anything from Bull Bars through to sidesteps (or rock sliders), rear bars and under body protection. In Australia, driving in remote areas without a bull bar is asking for trouble. Kangaroos and other wild life are regularly hit at high speed, and without a bull bar you could be stranded for hours, waiting for someone to come along. This can be very dangerous in some parts of Australia, where you might not see someone for weeks!
ARB Air Lockers and Accessories
These differential lockers are perhaps the most popular in Australia, and for good reason. They are operated by air, and are strong, reliable and often the most beneficial modification for serious four wheel driving. You can read my post on the ARB Lockers by following the link. Diff Covers are also available, to ensure that the lowest point in your vehicle is protected from those nasty rocks!
ARB Air Compressors
If you have Air Lockers, you will already have a compressor fitted. Not only is the compressor used to run Air Lockers, but it is used to pump your tyres up and repair them if required. You can purchase these that bolt into the engine bay (or inside of the vehicle) or you can purchase a portable one which you just connect to the vehicles battery. Have a read of the post I wrote on 12v Compressors.
Old Man Emu Suspension
The suspension on a Four Wheel Drive is perhaps one of the most important parts to have working correctly. With so many options regarding the height of the suspension and the way it is set up, it’s worth putting some thought and money into this. Old Man Emu is named because of the way an Emu runs. If you watch carefully, regardless of how uneven the terrain is an Emu will be able to run at top speed and maintain a level body. Good suspension in a Four Wheel Drive makes the chassis and springs move, and keeps the body level. This makes the ride more comfortable and reduces the chance of rolling. Suspension is most important when doing a lot of driving on corrugated gravel roads as it heats up and can easily fail if you have cheap shock absorbers and springs.
IPF Lights and Accessories
No doubt good lighting inside and outside of your vehicle is important. In Australia, driving at night is dangerous without spotlights because of the animals that can run in front of your vehicle. By having some good quality lighting you have a much greater chance of slowing down or steering around the animals. IPF is a very popular brand for lighting and is well known to stand up to the harsh environment of four wheel driving in Australia, and throughout the world.
ARB Canopies and Sport Lids
Canopies are very useful with a single or dual cab Ute. A good quality canopy will keep both the dust and water out of your tray, allowing you to use it to store anything that you want, from tools through to photography equipment and camping gear. ARB sells a large variety of canopies through to sports lids and sprint canopies. They even make the Ute liners, which are very useful for protecting the bottom of your Ute.
ARB Roof Racks and Roof Bars
It doesn’t matter how big your Four Wheel Drive is; its’ always too small! Roof Racks are a great option for those that are looking to carry big, bulky items that don’t weigh too much outside of the cabin. There are plenty of options for you, depending on what you need. A number of different sized weatherproof bags can be purchased too, meaning that you can keep anything on your roof without it getting dusty or wet! It’s important to keep the weight low in your Four Wheel Drive though – putting lots of weight on your roof racks is asking for your car to tip over!
ARB Recovery Gear
Everyone who uses their Four Wheel Drive for what they were designed to do should have some recovery gear. It doesn’t cost too much and it could save your vehicle from getting washed away on the beach one day! ARB sell everything from Snatch Straps through to Snatch Blocks, Recovery Dampers, High Lift Jacks, Exhaust Jacks, Hand Winches, shackles, drag chain and also kits that contain complete everything you need for a safe recovery.
If you do a lot of travelling as the only vehicle, it’s important to have a winch. These are generally insurance (and not used very often), but you can guarantee that if you don’t have one you will get caught out! These can be used to pull your vehicle (and trailers) out of trouble safely and easily. Most are mounted on the front (behind the steel bull bar) and have flexible steel wire rope or dynamica rope. These are great if you have no other vehicles to recover you, and also for recovering other cars. Unlike a snatch strap, you can move the car out slowly with a bit more control, which is important when you are on a nasty side angle. You can winch off other vehicles, trees (if they are strong enough) or if you really get stuck you can bury your spare tyre and winch off that. By using the right pulleys you can make the recovery very easy on your winch.
Much like a winch, a snorkel is cheap insurance when it comes to water crossings. If your engine sucks in a gulp of water you may as well say good bye to it. A snorkel ensures that your engine gets clean, dry air. Being higher up from the road the air is cleaner, and it is also forced down the snorkel. This usually provides the engine with more power and better economy, which is an added bonus. Have a look at the most common snorkels fitted to Four Wheel Drives – it’s usually Safari ones!
ARB Fridge Freezers
Have you ever wondered how people can go camping for weeks on end and still eat fresh food every day? There are many fridge/freezers on the market today that run off your car battery. Most start off at about 40L and work their way up to 80L. Generally a section is split to be used as the freezer, and they run off a 12V supply (or through an adapter into the 240V supply), although some can run off gas or 12v or 240V. These are designed to put up with vibrations, to use minimal electricity and to ensure that you are able to have fresh food and cold drinks at any point in your camping trip!
If you have done any camping or touring from your Four Wheel Drive you would know that it can be a nightmare trying to arrange things in the back of your car so that they are easy to get out, packed neatly and not taking up too much room! The solution for this is drawers on runners. These make it easy to put things away, and much easier to get out. Many come with a fridge slide, for you to mount the fridge on and to slide out when you need it. People use the drawers for storing a variety of things from recovery gear through to cutlery and kitchen utensils and camping gear. There are many different designs, and most function better with a Cargo Barrier in front of them (to stop any cargo bouncing forward onto passengers!).
ARB Tow Bars
Fitting a Tow bar (or rear bar) to your Four Wheel Drive is something worth doing. They help to spread the load more evenly over your chassis for towing, and they provide ample protection when four wheel driving. Often the rear quarters of your car are the first place to get damaged (when departing out of a sharp hole or from some rocks), and by having a solid bar there you protect the panels. These are also required if you want to fit tyre carriers, high lift jack mounts, work lights and jerry can holders.
ARB Dual Battery Systems
Dual Battery Systems are a requirement for any remote touring, and ARB 4×4 sell a variety of these. Both batteries are linked up, but only one is used for starting the vehicle. The other battery is used for running any electrical appliances; like fridges and lighting. They are often combined with solar panels to charge them up when you are camped in one location for several days. A Dual Battery System is good insurance if a battery ever dies when you are in a remote location.
ARB Touring and Camping Accessories
ARB also sells tents, awnings for your Four Wheel Drive and track shelters. Having good quality Camping Gear is just as important as your Four Wheel Drive accessories. Awnings are very popular as they attach to roof racks and roll out easily. With a few poles and pegs you have protection from the sun and other weather for as long as you want (believe me – a luxury well worth having!).
ARB General Accessories
ARB also sell a wide range of general products, ranging from apparel through to tyre deflators, camera systems, long range fuel tanks, water tanks, battery chargers, Navigators, UHF Radios and tools to work on your Four Wheel Drive.
ARB has workshops all over the country, and they will fit your modifications for you. This is often a good way to go, if you are unsure of how things are meant to be fitted! Of course, they charge to get it all fitted, but at least it is done right.
Is ARB any good?
People choose to fit ARB 4×4 gear because it has a solid reputation for being good quality, and reliable when you need it most. People wouldn’t fit the gear if it wasn’t any good, and you can see by the number of cars out there with ARB Gear on them that it lasts for a long time! That’s not to take into consideration the number of commercial and government 4wds with ARB gear on them!
Let’s face it; modifying your Four Wheel Drive is rarely a cheap path to take. However, it is important and it’s not worth buying poor quality products. ARB products are not cheap, but then their quality reflects this. I would suggest comparing them with other 4×4 Accessory shops and then making decisions based on what you find out. In general though, ARB is good value!
ARB might be massively popular, but they don’t dominate the whole 4×4 Accessories ball game. They have a number of competitors including TJM, Opposite Lock, Ironman, Just Straps and a few more that I can’t think of right now! These are always worth looking into, as you will find things that are cheaper (and perhaps better quality too).
ARB has a number of stores, and there are also plenty of four wheel driving stores that sell ARB Gear. Just visit their website and type in your postcode and you can be sure something will pop up!
The ARB Head Office is at
ARB Corporation Ltd
42-44 Garden Street
Kilsyth VIC 3137
Tel: 03 9761 6622
Fax: 03 9761 6807
Alternatively, visit their website and fill out the contact form.