Lifestyle

The Tuner Jeep – Offroading and Riding Dirty

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Jeep Wrangler
Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Few cars can match the urban utility of the Jeep. Whether it’s a Wrangler or a Cherokee, the combination of urban performance and offroading stability showcases the military roots of the vehicle. Even the Liberty and other, softer, editions often have what it takes to get out of the city and on to the dirt trails for fun. Scooters may be on the rise, but Jeeps are a mainstay in our cities. Whether you plan to mod your Jeep for cruising in style or riding dirty out in the weeds, here are a few tips to help you on your way to a grease-monkey masterpiece.

The Good Jeep

If you’re planning to stay on paved roads with the occasional side venture off concrete and onto granite paths, consider under-deck lighting and custom bars to help your Jeep stand out. These mods make it easier for other motorists to see (and appreciate) your ride, and custom bars can add support and stability for when the need for speed overtakes you. You probably won’t beat a tuned BMW on the slick track, but you’ll be king of the local highway.

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Mods that can make a real difference in performance for heading offroad include a lift kit and a winch. You’d be surprised how much better a Wrangler or Cherokee looks with the right lift clearance, and that winch will likely see seasonal use if you live in snowy areas. Ever wanted to be able to drag cousin Lenny out of the fifth snowbank he’s parked his 4×4 in “accidentally” this winter? Start charging the guy for a quick winch to get him back on the road. Your Jeep can handle it.

The Bad

When the roads get bad, mods can make all the difference. Roll bars, stability controls and ABS (or tuned braking systems) can help. But if you’re handy with a wrench (or willing to foot the bill), you can do better. Consider cranking up the durability (and the width) of your tires before you attempt to climb over bigger rocks and blaze new trails. Take that lift kit to the next level with a set of sturdy and soft suspension upgrades that put the extra bounce in your ride.

Remember that mods can get bad, too. So don’t overdo it or you’ll fly past the ugly stage into the land of mockery. Fins don’t look good on Jeeps, leave the spoilers at home and remember that flames don’t add horsepower (that’s what stickers are for). Assuming you haven’t found one of those strange models of Jeep that doesn’t have any 4×4 capability, wings, scoops and other downforce-creators serve only to unbalance your ride. Leave performance body mods to the monster trucks and the street racers; it’s best to focus only on style if you plan to transform the body of your Jeep.

The Ugly

Y’all wanna see me go all out? Check out these tread tires from DARPA that let your Jeep clear anything. Climb boulders. Go cross-country to beat the offroaders at Moab. This is one ugly mod that transforms your Jeep into a whole other beast. It’s also ugly enough to make your ride look like an angry frog, so there’s that. The great thing about this mod is that you can swap the tank treads for true tires and not have to tow your offroad vehicle out to the dunes.

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Jeeps are highly customizable creatures that you can transform for a fraction of the price of many other vehicles. Give them a look all your own with LED lighting, undercarriage kits, and chassis lifts, or add utility with winches and mud-bogging tires. Take it as far as you want, or simply make a few modifications for style. Ultimately, whether you’re cruisin’ the Interstate between stops or heading down to the Baja races, she’s your beast and a reflection of who you want to be.

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Bradley Robbins
Bradley Robbins is a tech, trade and travel writer with a lifetime of experience with North America, Europe and Japan. With over a decade of experience as a copywriter and blogger, "Scratchpad Brad" is back in the writing game after too many years in a cubicle slaving away as an overnight crisis expert.

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