Our Isuzu Dmax build for touring Australia

It took a lot of thought to commit to selling our 80 Series Land Cruiser, and to move to another vehicle. I pondered for weeks, made multiple spreadsheets, looked online at every possible option I had, and then made the choice; we’d sell our Land Cruiser and buy an Isuzu Dmax.

If you want to know exactly why we traded up, have a read of this: Swapping from an 80 series Land Cruiser to an Isuzu Dmax.

Isuzu Dmax
Our new 4WD; a 2016 Isuzu Dmax
Changing 4WD's
Our old 80 Series Land Cruiser and new Isuzu Dmax

The idea was simple; to build it into a 4WD that would tour Australia in relative comfort, capability, acceptable cost and that would work well to camp out of. When travelling, we tow a Soft Floor Camper Trailer (not anymore!) Lifestyle Reconn R2 Hypercamper

On top of that, it had to double as a daily family vehicle for around town, or the finances just wouldn’t balance.

I spent many, many hours planning, designing, building and installing various parts of the vehicle that you see today, and as of now, am very happy with it. It had to be ready to explore the 70 reasons you need to travel WA.

The vehicle is a 2016 Isuzu Dmax SX model dual cab, running the 3 litre turbo diesel motor that has been around for many years. It’s the base model Dmax, with vinyl interior and no fancy chrome bits like the other models have; exactly what I wanted.

I bought it it up from Victoria, and had it trucked over as the only other SX or LSM model Dmax with the non DPF motor that was for sale was ridiculously expensive in Perth.

This Dmax is the MY15.5 model; the last of the vehicles without the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). This, in turn means it doesn’t have the 6 speed automatic gearbox, and the slightly more powerful variant motor. It’s also plain, boring old white, for a good reason – What colour 4WD is best? 

If you are looking for an Isuzu Dmax Touring Setup, this post covers the entire build in detail, without any of the commercial rubbish that goes with so many builds today.

If you want to know what we got wrong with the Dmax build, you can read about that too.

What did it cost?

A build like this doesn’t come cheap, but we’ve documented every part used, and how much it cost. You can find the full post here – Dmax build cost.

6 year review

We’ve now had our Dmax for 6 years, and have done a full review, which you can read here; Isuzu Dmax review after 6 years.

We’ve had a few issues, but only one major issue and we are quite pleased with it overall. If you were looking for Isuzu Dmax problems, there are a couple of more well known items but overall they are mostly solid!

Dmax modifications
Our new Dmax, a few weeks after it arrived

Non DPF model

I specifically hunted down a pre DPF Dmax, and recommend avoiding them across all makes and models if possible as they are hugely problematic things that are ‘good’ for the environment and nothing else.

They are fraught with problems, expensive to repair and a nightmare, in general.

I will quickly point out that at this moment the Isuzu DPF’s seem to be relatively trouble free, perhaps because they have been running them in their trucks for many years.

That said, they are in no way proven, and until I see hundreds of them with over 250 – 300 thousand kilometres on the clock I can’t see how anyone can say they are reliable. This is especially the case for Dmax’s that are used for short trips around town, as this is exactly what a DPF does not like.

I expect a lot bit of trouble in the future for people that have vehicles with DPF’s. However, maybe they will be fine – like lots of technological advancements that just require some time to get used to. Time will tell.

EDIT – Yep, I’m seeing a lot of issues with the Isuzu Dmax and MUX DPF’s, mainly in relation to sensors and burns happening too often. They’re just a bad idea for everything but the environment (and even then, I question that).

The rest of the gear

I’ll start from front to back, running you through all of the gear, and giving you as much information as I possibly can.

AFN Bull Bar

Bull bars have been fairly plain for some time, and one day I stumbled across the AFN Bar, which is wildly different.

Now, looks alone would never have convinced me to get one, but they are built in Portugal, the business is used for military products, they are light weight, strong and competitive in price.

One of the big selling points for me was the distance that they stuck out, as I knew things were going to be very tight in the garage, and also it reduces the stress on the front end. I have seen a few Isuzu Dmax’s with cracked inner guards, which some people claim comes from heavy bar work sticking too far forward.

The bar was a nightmare to install, and there are a few engineering areas where it could be improved. However, it has rated attachments for recovering off, its fairly well built and does the above things I mentioned. I’d get one again. You can read my full review here – AFN Bull Bar review

AFN Bull bar on a Dmax
The new AFN Bull Bar

Runva XP11 Premium Winch

Runva has gained a great reputation for a cheap but good quality winch for the front of your 4WD. They are not the cheapest out there anymore, but they are well known and several years ago would have been the only ‘cheap’ but decent quality winch on the market.

I don’t use winches that often, but we do a lot of solo travel and its cheap insurance that I wasn’t going to do without. You can read our review here – Runva Winch Review.

Winch wiring all done
Runva XP11 Premium installed

Bushskinz Bash plates

One thing I was very concerned about with the Dmax was the lack of clearance underneath, and the number of sensitive things hanging down low. One rock to the wrong thing under there and you could be up for mega money, not to mention a difficult extraction.

I looked at all the brands; Boos, AFN, Custom Off road, ARB, TJM etc etc. Bushskinz were helpful, I could see it would marry to the AFN bar OK and they were reasonable price, so I purchased a set of 3.

These cover the radiator, sump and automatic transmission. The only place that makes transfer case bash plates are AFN, and they are about $1700 for the set of 3.

To be fair, they are 6mm aluminium, and are far more work to make than anything else I’ve seen on the market. If money was no object I’d have gotten them, although aluminium does have a tenancy to gall, or stick to rocks as it slides over them.

The bushskinz ones are heavy; about 45kg. They are quite easy to install and remove, and have a couple of access points as you’d want. If you have any low hanging bits on your 4WD, bash plates are worth fitting.

Dmax bash plates by Bushskinz
A bit more confidence off road with these on

HPD Catch Can

Catch can’s are an absolute must on any modern 4WD. You can read more about it here – Is a Catch can important on a modern turbo diesel?

EDIT #2: The Provent 200 is far more effective

I ran the HPD Catch Can for 34,000km, then put a Provent 200 on for 5625km, and the difference in oil collection ability is absolutely astounding. You can read the full report here; Provent vs HPD Catch Cans.

EDIT #1: I am removing my HPD catch can

After nearly 30,000km of testing, and an independent study done by Curtin University the billet aluminium catch can is being removed. Lets just say there are much better performing catch cans out there. Want to know more? Read this – Why I’m removing my HPD Catch Can.

The two most common catch cans installed on Isuzu Dmax’s are HPD, or Provent. The latter has been around for a long time, make quality gear and are proven to work very well. They have a lot of copies on the market though, so get the right one.

They also have a few things about them I wasn’t completely sold on – little storage for oil collection, outlets that allow oil to spill out when on angles, a filter which removes most of the oil (which is great) but also puts more pressure on your motor (think rear main seal) and the filter it needs replacing every 40 – 70,000km.

Either way, I opted for the shiny billet aluminium HPD catch can (not because of its looks!) which runs a set of stainless mesh on the inlet and outlet to make the oil particules stick and drop down.

My gut feeling is it doesn’t work nearly as well as the Provent (more information coming out on this real soon!), but it has a few other benefits that I like – holds a decent quantity of oil, has inlets and outlets in clever positions, mounts up in a kit very well, doesn’t need any ongoing maintenance and has a dip stick to check the oil level.

Isuzu Dmax Catch Can
Dmax HPD Catch Can

Fuel Manager 30 micron Pre Fuel Filter

Modern turbo diesel motors are extremely sensitive to bad fuel. A bit of water, some algae or gunk and you can be in real trouble. You’ll find stacks of arguments online as to what filter systems are best, and whether to put them pre or post.

For me, it was fairly simple; you can’t put anything after the factory Isuzu 5 micron filter without voiding your warranty, so before it went. 30 micron is not very fine, and I suspect not really the right size, but it will do for now. This is mainly to filter out any big bits along with water.

After 15,500km on our 3 month trip It had very little in the bowl, which is good.

Dmax pre filter
Fuel Manager 30 micron pre filter

Automatic Transmission Cooler (aftermarket)

After seeing some pretty consistent 90 and 100 degree temperatures, I decided it was time to install an Automatic Transmission Cooler. This was fairly cheap, and has made a big difference to the temperatures in our auto box.

Davies Craig cooler
The Davies Craig external transmission cooler in our Dmax

UHF Antenna

The antenna I went with is an RFI CD5000. This is the same as what I had on the 80 series, and I love it. It’s big but not ridiculous. It’s black so minimal reflection and annoyance from it being on the front of the car, and its extremely well built.

Beyond that, it works brilliantly; I often have by far the best radio reception in our group.

Antenna for the Dmax
RFI CD5000 antenna

Icom remote mount UHF

Our 80 had an Icom UHF, and I was very pleased with it. They are commercial grade, and built tough. The remote mount unit was only about $40 more, so I grabbed that.

The actual radio is now mounted under the dash, with all of your controls and speakers on the actual hand piece.

This also allows for the hand piece to be unplugged and put away from thieving eyes when the vehicle is being driven around town. When we head out on a trip, I can pull it out and plug it in.

ICOM UHF radio
ICOM IC450 remote mount UHF

Isuzu 16 x 7 Aluminium Rims

I’ve always run steel rims on my 4WD’s in the past. However, this time around, I was more conscious of weight, and quality aluminium rims are easily as strong if not stronger than steel ones (just impossible to repair if you do damage them!).

Unsprung weight is very important for corrugations as it makes your suspension work much harder. I purchased 8 second hand Isuzu rims off Gumtree for about $400.

These are positive 33mm (the same as the OEM steel ones), and have been fitted to our camper trailer as well, so we have matching tyres and rims.

Toyo AT 2 all terrain tyres in 265/75/16

EDIT – We are currently running Bridgestone 697 all terrain tyres, which are about 50% worn out. You can check out our unbiased review here; Bridgestone Dueler AT 697.

I did a lot of research into tyres. I found out you could legally run 265/75/16’s on the SX Dmax, and accepted the costs that bigger tyres would bring on the vehicle.

If you want more information, have a read of this – Fitting Bigger Tyres to your 4WD, and for those specifically looking at the Dmax this – Tyre size; you can go 50mm above the largest tyre in your model range.

I’ve always had mud terrain tyres, and was nearly going to commit to another set, but for the 10% of situations where muddies would be better for me, I succumbed and went with all terrains.

Eventually, it came down to two tyres – the BFG K02 all terrains for $285 a tyre, or the Toyo AT 2 tyres for $239 a tyre. Remembering I was buying 8 (3 for the camper trailer), so there was some buying power.

The BFG’s are a very, very popular tyre. That said, I found a heap of people who weren’t happy with them, and it did put me off. Instead, the Toyo’s had an amazing reputation, with very few people who had issues.

Great grip in all situations, good puncture resistance and great wear. Perhaps its just more people own BFG’s and therefore a small portion of them complain, I don’t know. That said, Japanese tyres are becoming very well reputed when compared to anything coming out of the USA.

Eventually, I committed to the Toyo’s, and to date have been very pleased with them (although the rear tyres did wear a LOT over our 3 month trip!). Keen to know how they’ve gone over 20,000km? Check this out – Toyo Open Country AT2 Review.

Isuzu Dmax with bigger tyres
Factory LSM alloy rims and 265/75/16 inch Toyo AT2’s
Toyo AT2 Tyres
Toyo AT2 Open country’s

Old man Emu suspension and GVM Upgrade

In the planning stages, I had always banked on getting Old man Emu Suspension. I’ve run it before and been fairly happy with it. ARB has a massive backing of suppliers and its well known for being good gear.

I will say that if you are really pushing your 4WD on nasty corrugations then you need to go remote reservoir shocks, but for our purpose, the normal nitro chargers were fine.

The curve ball for me, was finding out the weight of our 4WD and realising I’d need to get a Dmax GVM upgrade. I took the vehicle to the local tip one afternoon, and with very little gear in it the weight was nearly 2500kg.

That didn’t leave much for all of the gear, and despite trying to reduce weight I knew I’d be over with the tow ball weight of the camper.

I did a heap of research into GVM Upgrades. It eventually came down to Pedders or ARB, and I went with the latter. It’s now got a maximum GVM of 3220kg, or 270kg above the original. The front springs are the heaviest you can get, and the rears are 600kg constant load. Given our vehicle stays loaded most of the time, its worked out just great.

If you want to know more about what our Dmax carries, and what it weighs have a read of this – Isuzu Dmax weight.

We actually had a mobile caravan weigher out recently, and had our entire rig weighed when set up for a long trip away, and the results were surprising. You can check that out here – Mobile Weighing in Perth.

Isuzu Dmax Suspension GVM
The OME Dmax GVM Upgrade
OME suspension on a Dmax
OME suspension on the Dmax

Diff drop kit

Another curve ball was realising a few days prior to leaving for 3 months that the CV angles weren’t great. A quick call into Coastal 4×4 and I had a Roadsafe diff drop kit, which has reduced the CV angles considerably.

If you are lifting your Dmax more than 30mm, this is a very important modification you should consider fitting. You can read more about that here – Dmax Diff Drop.

Dmax diff drop difference
Drivers side difference after the diff drop was fitted

Ultra gauge

I reckon you are mad heading bush with a modern 4WD and no way of diagnosing any faults that the computer throws up. You can buy the Torque Pro app and a bluetooth adaptor for very cheap, or if you want something more permanent a scan gauge or an ultra gauge.

I stumbled across the latter in my research, and basically concluded they did the same as the scan gauge but with a much, much nicer display, so went ahead and ordered one. This thing has been unreal. It’s mounted to the windscreen via a suction mount, and can read about 150 different sensors that the ECU supplies.

I primarily use it for engine temperature, boost, automatic transmission temperature (a big one), voltage and engine load.

I wouldn’t go anywhere without one now; its been fantastic for seeing how your vehicle is coping, and I have used it to clear a fault after some electrical work was done that you’d be driving around in limp mode without.

Ultra gauge on the Dmax
The ultra gauge on our Dmax

Redarc Tow Pro Elite

Our camper trailer is over 750kg, and has electric brakes, and therefore the tow vehicle needs a way of controlling it.

The Redarc Tow Pro Elite is a no brainer – they are by far the most commonly fitted. They are fantastic quality, easy to use and really simple and tidy. Even with the best towing vehicle, you still need quality electric brakes.

Dmax tow controller
Redarc Tow Pro Elite in the Dmax dash

Stedi ST4K 42 inch LED Light Bar

With all of the work going on, I knew I’d kill myself if I hit a big kangaroo on the first day of our big trip up north, so a few hundred bucks on some decent lighting was an obvious investment.

Given the WA road rules had finally caught up with the rest of the country in allowing light bars on top of canopies, and that pricing of decent units had come down a lot, it was a no brainer.

Stedi are another cheaper imported product that has a great reputation (and a 5 year warranty) for both quality and performance.

I had to mount it up fairly high in order to clear the roof of the Dmax (as its mounted so far back), but this thing is absolutely unreal. The light is substantially more targeted than I expected, and will do 1 lux at 1000 metres. No idea what that really means, but its bright and fantastic to drive with at night.

These come with the harnesses to make installation pretty easy, and I purchased an anti theft kit as well. These are just two security nuts that screw on and you need a special tool to remove them. Hopefully enough to put most thieves off.

I’ve written a full review, including night photos of it here – Stedi ST4K 42 inch LED Light Bar Review.

Stedi light bar
The big 42 inch Stedi ST4K LED light bar that is brilliant

Safari snorkel

Safari have been making raised intakes for years now, and they make quality gear. You can get much cheaper ones off eBay, but is it worth the risk? This helps to keep the air filter clean when on dusty roads and the motor safe in water.

200W fixed solar panel

When I bought the Ute canopy, it had a 120W solar panel mounted on top. Given the 100W one on the cruiser only just kept up, I figured I’d swap it for a bigger one. A 200W mono panel was purchased from Low Energy Developments, and mounted on the two rails of the canopy.

I did spend some time bracing the panel, as it flexed quite a bit along the length of it (due to only two mounting rails), and also the glass moved up and down a lot over the width.

I used some special rubber (Linatex) and aluminium angle to stop it from flexing, with a length of 30mm x 3mm flat bar down either side to stop it bending.

I’ve gone with a fixed roof rack solar panel that is oversize, so I never have to play with moving panels around. There are some pro’s and cons to fixed vs portable solar panels, so decide for yourself.

200W 12V solar panel
200W of fixed solar on the Dmax canopy

Bull Motor Bodies Aluminium Gull Wing Canopy

Dual cabs with normal fibreglass canopies (even if they have windoors) really frustrate me for touring. They are heavy, take up so much room and make access a right pain in the behind.

I knew I wanted an aluminium gull wing canopy, but wasn’t prepared to pay the exorbitant prices that they cost new.

Eventually I found a Bull Motor Bodies canopy for sale off an extra cab Hilux, running a short 450mm tray on the rear. I picked it up for $3800, cut the tray off the back and moved the bumper forward, making it 1700mm long.

These canopies are fantastic, and at $12k new a few years ago it was a bargain and a half.

It came with a 50L 4WD water tank and electric pump, 2500W inverter (why you’d want one that big I’ll never know), central locking, shelving, LED lighting, solar regulator, 120W solar panel, roof racks, underbody toolboxes (which I didn’t fit) and about as good as it gets in terms of quality of build.

This particular unit is a chassis mount job, so the tub was removed and this bolts directly to the chassis. If you are looking to get a Ute Canopy, there are lots of things to think about. You can read all about it here; Buying a 4WD Ute Canopy; the Ultimate Guide.

Bull Motor body canopy
Our Dmax canopy
Bull Motor Body Canopy
These canopies are extremely well built, and come highly recommended

Custom fridge slide and drawer system

There was nothing on the market that did what I wanted it to, and enjoying the occasional wood project I decided to build my own drawer system. You can read about this here – Fitting out our Dmax Gull Wing Canopy.

Two 1000mm drawer extensions were left over from a previous project, so they were used as the fridge slide. 6 Oates Drawers from Bunnings were purchased to hold our goods, and two sheets of 12mm marine ply.

I propped the whole unit up 38mm with some pine, and many hours later it was complete. Fridge slide, table, plastic drawers and lots of storage.

I mounted a number of t nuts and eye bolts to the top to tie gear down as well.

Dmax fitout
55L Evakool and drawers next to it, that doubles as a table

EDIT – we’ve since gone to an upright fridge which has made a world of difference. If you are considering one, check this out – upright vs chest fridge.

85L Bushman Fridge
Our Bushman 85L Upright Fridge, packed full for 6 weeks away

Electrical box

Along with the help of a great Perth mobile auto electrician, I knocked up a box to house the electrical gear. This has numerous switches, two cigarette outlets, two USB outlets and 3 Anderson outlets. The Projecta dual battery monitor was installed to keep an eye on the battery voltage.

I wanted something simple, economical and functional. I don’t need battery monitoring systems and fancy 240V chargers. They are lovely, and very cool, but a a couple of grand saved is better put towards fuel money.

Dmax electrical box
Inside the electrical box

Projecta DCDC Battery charger

The 25 amp Projecta IDC25 was also installed in the above electrical box. This takes charge from the cranking battery, and regulates the voltage to charge the battery to maximum. It also has a solar input, which is where the panel connects to.

I’m not entirely sold on the need for DCDC battery chargers, but it kills two birds with one stone.

EDIT – This has been upgraded, by removing all of the auto reset circuit breakers, and replacing the Projecta DCDC with a Renogy DCDC that does a much better job.

I30 Solar regulator

The canopy came with a 30 amp PWM regulator already mounted, which I’ve chosen to keep and wire up should the DCDC give me any issues. Stephen has wired it so I can swap an Anderson plug over and run the 200W panel through the 30 amp regulator and still charge the battery should something go wrong.

This actually failed a little while back, and I replaced it with another cheap itech PWM regulator.

12V solar panel regulator
Solar30 regulator, as a backup

55L Evakool Fridge and or Freezer

We’ve had a good run from the yellow , so purchased another one just before the 80 series was sold. This has been mounted on the fridge slide, and does a great job of keeping everything nice and cold!

EDIT – As mentioned above, we’ve gone to a Bushman Upright Fridge, which is much more suitable.

150 Ah Bosch Deep Cycle Battery

Our 80 series ran two batteries, and the normal SB12 redarc isolator, which allows you to use some power from the cranking battery before shutting off.

That system kept up, but was touch and go a few times, so I decided to go even bigger on this system. A 150 amp hour Bosch battery was picked up from Goodchild enterprises for about $400, and with some careful metal work two brackets were made up to keep it in position.

This weighs 45kg, and has been put as far forward in the canopy as possible.

Dmax dual battery
45kg of battery to keep the Dmax electricals ticking along

EDIT – We’ve replaced this with a 230Ah DIY Lithium Battery, which was a massive improvement

50L water tank and electric pump

The under tray water tank is also located as far forward under the canopy as possible, and runs to a small 3.5 Litres a minute water pump and then out the back of the bumper through a tap.

Having running water when you are camping is magic. Our camper trailer also has water tanks, but a day down at the beach or cleaning dirty hands when on the road is made very easy by having water on board.

Running water in our Dmax
Running water from your vehicle is the best mod you can do

Isuzu tow bar, charging Anderson plug and reversing camera

The Dmax came with a genuine tow bar (which I detest as it hangs very low). I knocked up a bracket to move the trailer plug out of harms way (why they mount them under tow bars has be baffled), and had an anderson plug installed to charge the camper trailer while we are driving.

The factory Isuzu reversing camera has been great, and is an absolute must if you have a solid canopy on the back. You’d be completely blind reversing without it.

Isuzu Dmax tow bar
The OEM tow bar, with raised mounts for the anderson and trailer plugs
Dmax reverse camera
The factory reverse camera

Diff Breathers

It’s a no brainer to fit diff breathers to your 4WD. Water will do nasty damage to anything it gets into, and crossing water with differentials that are hot does exactly that.

I bought some 1/4” fuel hose, and replaced the existing breather with new hose right from the rear diff to the back of the firewall in the engine bay, with an air silencer on the end to allow it to breath and keep the dust out.

Long range fuel tank

I held off for 3 years, and never thought I’d end up with a long range fuel tank. We were using jerry cans for a long time, but I got so over the constant stopping, risk of fuel contamination and manual handling.

ARB fitted a Frontier Long Range Tank for us, and in all honesty its probably been one of the best modifications we’ve ever done. 

ARB Long Range Tank in Plastic
The long range fuel tank has been a game changer for us

Bigger cranking battery

After buying the Runva winch, I read the instructions which clearly identified the CCA of the factory battery wasn’t enough for the winch, and if you used it the winch warranty would be void.

Not a modification I’d planned on doing so soon, but I removed the factory battery and replaced it with an N70 size Amaron battery for cranking with around 750 CCA.

Dmax cranking battery
Amaron cranking battery in the Dmax

Pelican case

Ute’s are great things, but you’ve got to keep them relatively modular to make use of it all. I picked up a second hand Pelican case to keep my recovery gear, some spares, compressor and other bits and pieces in. It’s fantastic, and if its annoying me I can just remove it.

Lorella Springs, NT
The pelican case on the drivers side of the Dmax

Interior light upgrade

You can never have too much light inside your car late at night, when you are trying to find something. I bought a Narva LED to replace the festoon one, which is an improvement, but not as much as I’d like, and its starting to flicker, so needs replacing with something better.

Dmax LED interior light upgrade
Narva LED interior light upgrade

No engine modifications

Now, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t done anything in the engine bay, except for the catch can and pre fuel filter. The reason is simple; the motor is reliable, economical and does what I need it to without mucking about.

I’d love a bit more power, but I don’t want to sacrifice any reliability in order to get it. At least while the Isuzu warranty is in place there will be no modifications done. Perhaps a remap or tune may be on the cards later on, but not in the near future.

Other things to finish off

The rear 4WD drawers need some tidying up. I’m not sure If I’ll carpet it, but it does need some stainless sheet, or Laminex on the working side of the table. The battery should really be covered so nothing can touch the terminals and the canopy could definitely do with some more lighting.

I might install a couple of work lights to the rear/sides of the vehicle too, as these are always useful. 

We also want to ditch the factory head unit and replace it with something that will run Android. Having a fixed mapping system in your dash is truly epic.

Done and dusted

Well, the thought process and build of our modified Isuzu Dmax took a lot of time and effort, but we now have a 4WD that is great. It’s not perfect, and a nice 79 series Land Cruiser would have been an option too, but at nearly double the cost it wasn’t even looked at.

If you have any questions or comments, leave us a message below and we’ll be in touch!

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  1. Hey Col,

    I’ve still got my original air compressor that I purchased more than 10 years ago. It’s a Bushranger Supermax, which I paid about $500 for and they no longer make.

    I was having some issues with fuses blowing and started to look at compressors myself, but it is a bit of a minefield. Sorry I can’t be of more use!

    All the best

  2. Col Tranter says:

    Hey Aaron.
    I must of missed it but in your kit you mentioned an air compressors, what brand is it and how do you rate it?
    There are plenty of different brands on the market and it all becomes a bit confusing in the end.
    Regards. Col.

  3. Hi James,

    No changes yet. I might get an ECU shop setup down the track, but no plans right now. They are certainly a strong motor, and a lot of people give them a tickle (or a lot more than a tickle!).

    All the best

  4. Hi Aaron
    Done anything on your engine yet with a remap? or decided to keep it standard still for reliability. A mechanic mate of mine has said they should be able to unlock a lot of low rpm torque without compromising reliability much at all, so looking at options now


  5. Hey Trent,

    There are few times off road where I’d love the 80 back, but overall I regret throwing so much money at it, and keeping it as long as I did.

    The Dmax is no where near as capable, but it does the job we need it to, and I can’t ask for more than that

    All the best

  6. Hey Aaron,

    any regrets on selling the 80 yet?

    cheers Trent

  7. Hey Aaron, I see in one of your photos that you appear to have the towbar tongue inserted upside down. We tow a soft floor camper with a 2015 SX but find that often I need to jack the back of the vehicle to get the jockey wheel up/down. Was thinking of turning my upside down. Any issues. Thanks!

  8. Hi Adrian,

    Honestly, I don’t actually know. I started out with grand plans to list it all, and it all fell by the wayside. I would say around 55k? I will sit down and do a post in the future, with the total cost over 5 years

    All the best

  9. Hey guys, amazing little article this is. Yet to explore your site.
    Just wanting to know how much it cost to setup your DMAX for touring with ALL the modifications. Thanks very much x

  10. Hey Craig,

    You are very welcome. Tassie is a place we’d love to visit in the future!

    I reckon you’d have a hard time fitting most normal size driving lights in the AFN bar without them protruding, not that this stops people from doing it. You’d comfortably fit a nice slim LED light bar in there though, either off the mounting holes or under the top bar (or on top if you are allowed over there).

    The winch solenoid is mounted behind the grill, and the isolator is in the engine bay

    All the best

  11. Hey Aaron thanks very much for your articles I have the same Dmax and have found your articles very relevant to what I am trying to achieve. I have slowly been doing a couple of things to the dmax to make it a bit more capable to get me to a few of Tassies remote areas Camping and prospecting. I wanted to ask about the AFN bars and is it possible to mount driving lights or a light bar without the lights protruding past the bar itself due to the slim profile of the bar. Also how did you go about mounting the winch solenoid as you mainly see these on the bars themselves? I assume yours is in the engine bay looking at the photos. Thanks in advance for all your help mate. Craig

  12. Hey Mark,

    Your best bet would be to speak to Tuff Bull Bars – they will be able to advise you what units fit, and how they should be mounted correctly. If they can’t help, you could get a independent bracket, but it may foul with the bull bar

    All the best

  13. Hi Aaron
    At this point I have not got a bar, I have selected a Tuffbar alloy
    5 bar custom and side rails. It’s just a matter of waiting of the covid-19 stuff to settle so that I can travel up to Qld to have fitted. For me I think this is the best weight/protection option. For the touring I’m going to be doing. I want to keep weight as low as I can but being a solo tourer I have to factor in safety first.
    Thanks for your feed back.

  14. Hey Mark,

    It just bolts directly to the AFN bar. No additional bits or modifications.

    What bar do you have?


  15. Hi Aaron
    Hi I have a 2018 mux that I have been building up for outback Solo touring.
    I have bought the same winch runva 11xp premium, I notice that that your’s is mounted just in front of the radiator. What mounting hardware did you use to mount the winch on?
    Was this supplied with the bullbar?
    Where did you get your winch support bracket?
    Any advice on mounting a winch to these vehicles?
    Thanks for your time in creating these articles.

  16. Hey Colin,

    Thanks. This is the full article – feel free to make use of it as you will, and I’m happy to answer some questions too.

    Have fun

  17. Colin Wright says:

    Hi Aaron
    Great artical. Would like a full copy if possible as starting the same sort of build as we speak. You make mention of a numbber of items that i will need to purchase. I am particarly interested in tyre clearances with standard suspension. I am leaning towards a 235/85/16 tyre size or if they dont fit going down to 245/75/16. I will probably do a small lift at some point but not straight away.
    Cheers Col

  18. ” […] I’m not entirely sold on the need for DCDC chargers,… […]”

    Hi Aaron. Any vehicle having what is called a ‘smart alternator [n.b.]’ (they’re not really ‘smart alternators’ at all, but just ‘obey’ [i.e., increase their output voltage] whatever varying voltage is applied to their field coil winding from the vehicle’s ECU, as does every alternator by the way!) does indeed need a DC to DC charger to properly and fully charge a storage battery if you don’t want to have to wait until the cows come home.

    Cheers, Jonty

  19. Hi Jim,

    I just grabbed them off the internet; its the same code as the scan gauge. Having a quick look, you should need the following:

    TXD 07E2 22 1940

    RXF 04 62 05 19 06 40

    RXD 30 08

    MTH 0001 0001 FFD8

    All the best mate

  20. Jim Graham says:

    Hi Aaron, would you mind sharing the codes that you added to your Ultragauge. I’ve got the MX 1.3 on my MU-X and can’t get much info out of it at all.

  21. Hi John,

    If I had to guess, around 20k. I did some of it, but the auto electrical work and suspension work I had outsourced. The canopies are extremely expensive – mine was $3800 but a new unit with the same specs is over 12k.

    You don’t have to do all this though; its what we wanted for long term travel, and we will keep it for at least 10 years


  22. Hi Aaron, thanks for a fascinating article. I’m starting to think about getting a 4wd and wondering how much you had to spend on mods (approx). Did you do it mostly yourself? I imagine it would cost a lot more if you didn’t have the skills 😉

  23. Hey Neil,

    The tow hitch is upside down, for maximum clearance. It’s been that way since the first time we towed something. With the GVM upgrade it all sits nice and level, with a decent amount of clearance


  24. Have you thought about flipping your tow bar to increase clearance.

  25. Hi Martin,

    I assume yours is a manual? I’ve read this is a common problem with them, and the solution is normally spacing the center bearing down a little – have a look in the middle of your tail shaft. A diff drop won’t fix anything to do with that shudder if its from the rear tailshaft, as it will only change the front CV angles and angle of the front tailshaft.

    Mine is an auto, and I have had no shudders. However, mine is only lifted about 30mm compared to your 50mm (pretty sure that’s the Lovells standard?)


  26. Martin storey says:

    G’day. I purchased a Lovells gvm/gcm upgrade and am now about to put a superior diff drop kit in. Mine is a 2017 Lsu and after the lift it had and still has a shudder when taking off in 1st and a little bit into 2nd. Do you think the diff drop kit will fix it and did you have any such shudder or vibration from prop. shaft mis-alignment.

  27. Hey Brad,

    Is your winch lever horizontal, as in you pull it towards the front of the vehicle to engage it? My bar has a little half moon cut out and I can reach in reasonably easy (it is a bit tight) and move it around. What model Dmax? If its the newer shape (with the DPF) then things might be different.

    You can rotate the winch around to put the lever in different positions

    Best of luck mate

  28. Hi mate,

    How do you access the winch clutch lever on your winch through the afn bar. Ive bought an afn bar for a dmax and there is no way i can get my hand between the grill and half moon semi circle cut into the top of the bar to access the winch clutch lever. How did you get on?

  29. Hey Trevor,

    It is a bit confusing. You want the GM one with CAN. I got the MX 1.3, and just added the scangauge code in to get the transmission temps

    Take care mate

  30. Trevor Price says:

    Cheers Aaron,
    I looked at the Ultraguage site (looks like a 1990’s site),
    When trying to add to shopping kart it keeps asking what program I want eg,
    Ford with CAN (~2008+)
    Ford Other (Not CAN)
    General Motors (GM)
    General Motors (GM) with CAN (~2008+)
    Etc, Etc, ETC

    I couldn’t find any info in regards to Isuzu
    What program did you select??


  31. Hey Trevor,

    You’ve got good taste! Good to hear its going well for you.

    The ultra gauge was bought directly from them, off their website, and is the MX version. You can add the scan gauge codes to get it to read the auto trans temps. I think you may be surprised, and horrified at what they sit at.

    The wind screen mount is a good bit of kit too

    Enjoy mate

  32. Hey Aaron,
    Great setup, mine is very similar but with a canvas canopy, 2015 SX, OME, etc etc even the Toyo’s but on 16″.
    We’ve just clocked up 50,000 and over half of that would be off road also in WA.
    Where about’s did you order the Ultra guage from and is there a modle specific for the SX?


  33. Hey mate,

    I would love a set of both, but its extra weight that I didn’t have and I don’t really feel is necessary at the moment. I can’t stand doing panel damage off road, and would rather avoid any big rocks in the first place.

    I haven’t had them on my 4WD’s for a long time, but they are a good idea


  34. No side steps or rock sliders? I guess you don’t think they are necessary for what you are doing?

  35. Hi Dave,

    I very nearly did go with Pedders – I got a better price with them. However there were a few reasons I didn’t:

    – I couldn’t find enough people with their gear that had been used for a long time that spoke highly of them
    – Pedders couldn’t tell me what height lift I would get (which was critical to maintaining a legal 4WD having already purchased bigger tyres)
    – Pedders warranty wasn’t as good as ARB’s
    – ARB have been making 4WD suspension (or on selling it) for a very long time and it can be purchased from pretty much any 4WD store in the country.
    – ARB’s GVM upgrade doesn’t change the axle ratings, which means in the event of a warranty claim through Isuzu, they can’t just say your fault – you loaded the axles up beyond what we certify.
    – I’ve run OME suspension before in the 80 Series and been happy with it.

    Beyond that, I didn’t need the extra capacity – we would be almost (and perhaps even occasionally) be legal with the camper trailer behind without the GVM upgrade. It was purely to ensure that in the event that we were 50 or 100kg over I’d be legal. Also, no doubt we will end up with a different trailer in the future that has a heavier ball weight than our existing one.

    Every manufacturer normally puts some amount of over engineering into their vehicles, and you can push them a bit beyond that, but in this instance a GVM upgrade still uses the same chassis, differential housings, wheel bearings and a whole heap of other gear that are likely to fail when you load it up too much. There comes a point where you’ve pushed a vehicle so far beyond its original intended purpose that you break things very often.

    Oh, and I am on the page you mentioned – pretty good group


  36. Dave Shannon says:

    Interested in why you went with an ARB GVM upgrade rather than Pedders which is not a lot dearer but allows anothwer 200kg. Apart from that, I am impressed with the amount of planning and thought you put in to the project. Can I also recommend the Official Team Isuzu DMax/MUX Owners facebook group.