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    Truck Modifications

    • Building blocks for the perfect off-road truck

      Whether you prefer dune bashing or have a penchant for mud bogging, odds are that you'll need to make at least a few adjustments to your truck to ensure your adventures don't damage the vehicle. There are countless truck mods that can help you fine tune your ride to your exact specifications, but a few of them are universally smart ideas for all off-road drivers. While many trucks and SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Range Rover are built to drive off the beaten path with ease, they will need adjustments so you don't wind up cracking an axle or damaging the undercarriage. Here are a few of the things you should consider when you begin modifying your truck.

      Lift kits
      Ground clearance is an important factor to take into consideration if you want to go off-roading. Everything from boulders to fallen tree branches can scrape along the underside of your vehicle if you do not have enough space between the car and the ground, which, may cause harm to various auto parts and lead to costly repairs. A lift kit modifies the suspension system, allowing you to install larger tires and give you some more breathing room. This truck mod will also create a wider range of travel for the vehicle, so you won't get tossed around as much when traversing a highly uneven area. You will want to find a lift kit that is best suited for the type of off-roading you plan to do, as mud bogging and desert driving will require different systems.

      After installing a lift kit, you'll have more room for larger tires. These serve two purposes - the first being a higher ground clearance for the vehicle. Larger tires will also have more surface area, making it easier for you to get across rocky sections without fear of getting stuck while providing better traction. You can get a set of all-terrain or mud tires that are designed specifically for off-roading, and Jalopnik reports that bigger is better.

      Skid plates
      While large tires and lift kits will go a long way to preventing damage to the undercarriage of your vehicle, there are still bound to be large obstacles that might scrape up against your car as you pass over them. You can install skid plates that are designed to protect everything from the gas tank and differentials to the oil pan and rocker panels, so you won't have to worry about getting stuck out in the wilderness with a truck that won't start.

    • Show off truck mods in a SEMA contest

      Think your truck modifications are impressive enough to stand out among some of the best mods in the U.S.? Those drivers who believe the truck mods they've made are up to snuff will have a chance to pit their vehicles against rides from across the country as part of the upcoming Royal Purple contest, done in partnership with the 2013 SEMA Show

      The contest
      A revamped contest from Royal Purple, a manufacturer of synthetic oil, is scheduled for the 2013 SEMA Show. The new setup will provide truck owners with their own class to compete in, which is a change from years past. Previously, the competition, called "Show It Off At SEMA" and conducted by the manufacturer, selected some of the best modified vehicles from a pool of entrants and brought the winners out to the official SEMA show. This year will be a bit different, as the company has expanded the classes to include one specifically for trucks. 

      "Royal Purple has an incredibly diverse customer base that includes enthusiasts of just about every type of vehicle imaginable," said Marlena Soloman, a communications specialist for Royal Purple, as quoted by Mopar Muscle magazine. "By adding this new truck class, it enables thousands more enthusiasts to be a part of our most successful contest." 

      All drivers have to do to enter their ride is submit photos of their truck through a special contest app. You can download the program and submit your truck pictures starting Aug. 1 at 12 a.m., with the deadline coming one week later, Aug. 8. Car owners can then enter from Aug. 8 to 15. Once that period has closed, Royal Purple will select five vehicles from each class for further consideration. A panel of experts will then judge the automobiles based on their modifications, and the winners will be brought to the SEMA show and given their own display to showcase their rides. 

      About SEMA
      The 2013 SEMA Show is slated for Nov. 5 to 8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev. It is one of the largest specialty product trade events in the world, drawing in thousands of guests and vendors eager to check out the latest and greatest products and designs. With seminars, discussions, demonstrations, entertainment and more, the show is one of the coolest and most eye-opening events for fans of off-roading and vehicle modifications. 

    • Could plastic be the latest trend with truck exteriors?

      It's natural to want to protect an investment - especially if that investment happens to be a truck. Once you've poured time and money into a vehicle, whether for maintenance, truck mods or simply time spent driving, you form a connection with the truck. At this point, there's a good chance you'll want to take every possible precaution to protect the off-road vehicle, and for many, this includes installing a bedliner. 

      Benefits of a bedliner
      A bedliner is a protective covering designed to guard against damage in a truck bed. The basic idea is that the covering prevents cargo, whether it is sharp tools, sand or other freight, from scratching the surfaces or interfering with the inner workings of the vehicle. 

      Bedliners are available in two styles: drop-in or spray-on. Sprayed bedliners are the most popular. Although it can be difficult to apply this tool properly - the weather and materials used play a major factor in the process - the end result is a durability that most fans of off-roading or heavy-duty work appreciate. 

      Rugged looks
      While some would consider installing a bedliner purely for its practical uses, there are a number of other advantages that make it an even more alluring option. USA Today reports that many drivers are applying spray-on bedliners to the exterior of their trucks, as the coating provides a tough, rugged look perfect for off-road driving. 

      Once the liner has been sprayed onto the exterior of a vehicle, the machine appears to have a matte finish, which generally evokes a sense of durability and, in some cases, a military-inspired feel. As an added bonus, the coating protects the exterior of the vehicle from nicks or scrapes that would otherwise damage the paint, allowing owners to focus on off-roading instead of keeping clean. 

      "We are definitely seeing an increase in customers asking about the outside of their vehicles being sprayed," Jenny Clifford, spokeswoman for Line-X, told the news source. "They think it looks cool or gives the vehicle a rugged, tough factor ... We always love to see new and different applications with our product, when it's done correctly." 

      This trend is still in the beginning stages, so there's only a small chance you'll see one of these coated vehicles on the roads or trails in the near future. Still, the additional protection is something off-road enthusiasts may want to consider and could even become the next big trend in truck modifications. 

    • New wireless sensor could change weigh system

      As you continue making truck modifications and changing the truck suspension, your off-road vehicle will begin to take on a different shape. While you tinker with your ride, you'll want to keep track of what you add to the machine and how that affects the vehicle's performance. One the easiest and most effective ways to do that is to monitor how the weight changes with the new additions, which is especially important if you plan on doing some heavy-duty work or off-roading with the truck. 

      Importance of monitoring weight
      You're going to want to keep an eye on the weight of an off-road vehicle for several reasons. One of the most important is safety, as you'll likely be making alterations to a truck that require you to lift it for easier access. Any time the truck needs to be elevated, you'll need to know its weight so as to keep it within capacity limits. 

      Truck Weight recently introduced a new wireless sensor designed to track the weight of a truck without additional hassles. This system has been tested to provide accurate readings with a range of only 1 to 2 percent. Available for tandem spring, single point, camelback, walking beam and Chalmers suspension systems, this sensor could be an option for your next off-roading investment. 

      Advantages of a wireless system
      This wireless system can do more than simply let you know what kind of tools you need. If you plan on doing heavy-duty work with a vehicle, the Truck Weight product can alert you when you're close to the limitations of a truck, allowing you to perform any work easily and safely. It also lets you track how much pressure you're putting on a lift kit or suspension, which contributes to the longevity of the gear. 

      Another benefit of the wireless system? The installation time is kept to one to two hours, compared to up to 12 hours for its counterparts. So not only is it easier on you to install, but it also frees up your time so you can get right to off-roading, instead of spending unnecessary hours in the garage. 

      Truck Weight claims that its new sensor is well suited for off-roading. With no wires to get tangled in obstacles or interfere with ground clearance, it is safe for use on different types of terrain and may even enable you to extend your off-road driving time. 

    • More truck mods being done on the latest Dodge trucks

      Many truck modifications are done to more affordable models that have been used for off-roading in the past. New trucks don't require as much work and improvements as older models, and owners often aren't as keen to perform truck mods to change their new rides - which makes working on used trucks much more manageable. As such, there are constantly new offerings entering the market, and many of these tools are catered toward used trucks from previous model years. 

      More Dodge modifications
      A drop in the price of many Ram trucks means that it is easier for drivers to make truck mods to the vehicle. According to Off-Road Web, many of the more recent Ram truck models are seeing costs come down, which makes finding the right Dodge lift kit more manageable than ever before. 

      It's relatively easy to find gear for a Dodge suspension for a number of different models, especially now that several popular off-road vehicles are a generation old. Demand for many of these tools is growing, so you may soon see more offerings from the Ram line on the trails in the near future. 

      Ram Black Express
      Although many truck mods are done to older, used models, a new offering from Ram Truck may prove to be a popular option. The 2013 Ram Black Express is a factory truck that is set apart by its all-black exterior, which boasts 20-inch black aluminum wheels, a dark grille and numerous other blacked-out features. Its automaker calls it the "baddest-looking factory-built truck on the market," with its interior and exterior outfitted with the darkest additions available, USA Today reports. 

      The only things not blacked-out are the halogen projector head lamps and amber turn signals. Other offerings included in the vehicle are special features like front and rear stabilizer bars, heavy-duty shock absorbers and a powerful engine. 

      "Ram Trucks are known for their bold, in-your-face presence," said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of the brand. "The new Black Express takes Ram's aggressive good looks to an all new sinister level by 'blackening out' the entire truck while maintaining a great price." 

      Available in two- or four-wheel-drive models, this Ram truck may be the next hot vehicle - and it could prove to be the perfect option for fans of off-roading who want their ride to look as cool as possible. 

    • Keep off-road vehicle maintenance costs low

      Outfitting your off-road vehicle with the latest and greatest truck modifications means that you're usually spending a pretty penny on equipment and accessories. While elements of off-roading​, like lift kits, certainly require a lot of attention - both personally and financially - that doesn't mean there aren't other areas deserving of your focus. In fact, there are some spots where a little extra care can go a long way, especially if you want to keep maintenance costs down. 

      Watch what you haul
      One of the great things about beefing up a truck or jeep is giving it the power and capabilities to handle a heavy-duty load. Pulling around trailers, boats, ATVs, Jet Skis or any similar load can wear down the truck's suspension, so make sure you're tracking the weight of the haul. Anything you are towing will likely have to fall within certain weight parameters - especially if you have made a lot of truck mods or have accessories loaded on the vehicle. Simply keeping track of what you haul and how much pressure you're putting on a machine can go a long way in making sure you don't push it too far. 

      Always check the tires
      If there's one aspect of a vehicle that can make a big difference in off-road driving, it's the tires. You should constantly be keeping an eye on the tires to make sure they are not under- or over-inflated, as well as maintaining the right level of pressure and regularly rotating the parts. Sudden changes in the weather or an extreme uptick in the effort your vehicle exerts can lead to a drop in tire pressure, so be sure to pay attention if one of these situations pops up. 

      The U.S. Department of Energy reports keeping tires properly inflated can improve mileage by up to 3.3 percent, saving you more than $0.10 per gallon of fuel. While this may not seem like much, when you add up all of the gas you use trekking through off-road trails and powering through obstacles, it begins to add up. 

      Don't ignore extra features
      Say you get in your vehicle one day only to find that elements such as air conditioning or windshield wipers aren't working up to snuff. Although your first instinct may be to brush this off - especially if you don't need the tools at that moment - overlooking these problems can lead to bigger issues down the road. 

      Many of these minor occurrences can be signs of a major problem somewhere in the vehicle, so taking the time to check out hiccups in operation is essential for long-term care. You can use your own knowledge to examine a vehicle right away, but if the problem persists, you may want to take it to a professional. 

      Additionally, you never know when something could go wrong and leave you stuck under the hot sun or in a sudden rain storm, and if that happens, you'll be thankful you have the tools you need to get out of the situation safely. 

      Stick to recommended materials
      When you love your truck, no cost seems too high, and paying a little extra for premium fuel or high-octane oil may seem like just a drop in the bucket. However, these investments may provide little to no advancements for your vehicle. Read over the owner's manual for your truck or Jeep to find the recommended type of oil, as well as other necessary fluids, so you can provide your vehicle with the right materials. 

      Spending a little bit of time and money to take care of maintenance issues in the short term can make a big difference in the long run. By paying attention to a few areas, you can ensure the majority of time you spend with your vehicle is mudding or dune bashing - not bringing into a garage. 

    • Don't ignore your truck's check engine light

      When you spend a lot of time in a garage making truck modifications, you get to know the ins and outs of your off-road vehicle. While this intimate knowledge may help you figure out the right truck suspension or what special features can best enhance your vehicle, it doesn't take the place of regular maintenance and cannot completely prevent repair incidents that often pop up. Some unavoidable occurrences include when the check engine light of your truck starts glowing, letting you know that it is time to take an extra look at what's going on under the hood. 

      If the check engine light flicks on, there are a few processes that you should go through. It is especially important that you do not avoid the notification, as you never know what it could be signifying. 

      Don't ignore the light
      A check engine light will turn on if the truck itself recognizes that something may be amiss. A flashing check engine light may be the sign of a more severe problem - perhaps even one that requires immediate attention - whereas a glowing light is much more common and can be taken care of in due time.

      "When the check engine light comes on, it means that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "A glowing check engine light doesn't mean you have to immediately pull the car to the side of the road, but it does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible." 

      What to do 
      If you're the type of owner who wants to take control of the auto repair, you can take several steps to fix any problem that may have triggered the alert. The first step of this process involves examining the vehicle to see if there was some kind of previous oversight that led to the alert. For example, it could mean that there is a loose gas cap, low fluid level or faulty sensor.

      Once you've thoroughly looked at the engine, as well as other basic areas of concern, you should move to a more intense check. That next step would be to employ a diagnostic scanning tool to pinpoint exactly where the problem is, which may require a visit to a repair shop. 

    • The difference between body and suspension lift kits

      Entering the world of truck mods can be overwhelming for anyone not well versed in off-roading. They may have the desire to start embracing this hobby, but there are a few things these individuals have to learn before they can dive into the world of off-roading. 

      The basic function of a lift kit is to raise the body or suspension of a truck to allow for more clearance between the ground and the underside of an off-road vehicle. Lift kits are also helpful when you want to put larger tires onto a machine. Before you can get started on making improvements to your vehicle, however, you'll have to decide which kind of lift kit is right for your needs and then find one that fits. 

      Body lift kits
      A body lift is classified by additional space between the cab and bed of a truck. While the body itself is higher, the suspension and wheels remain at the original height. You end up with about one to three inches of space, allowing you to install larger tires without affecting the driving experience or handling. 

      One of the major advantages of a body lift kit is that is tends to be more affordable than its suspension counterpart. It also is relatively easier to install, so novices may find that it's more manageable as they continue to get acclimated to the world of off-roading. 

      On the other hand, body lifts leave a distinctive gap between the truck frame and the bed, which some motorists don't like, but there are gap guards that can get rid of the open space. It also doesn't increase the overall ground clearance, which limits the off-roading benefits you'll receive. There will also be added stress on the bolts of a vehicle - a fact that could spell trouble later on if you aren't careful. 

      Suspension lift kits
      Most of the truck modifications you'll be making will likely lend themselves well to the use of suspension lift kits. These kits do increase the ground clearance of a vehicle, and for that reason are frequently found on trucks and 4x4s headed for dirt trails. You can usually get between four and six inches of additional height with the help of a suspension lift kit, but in some cases, it can be as much as 18 inches. 

      Many off-roading enthusiasts prefer a suspension lift kit to a body lift kit because of the extra clearance it provides. It may be more expensive than a body lift kit, but some don't mind paying to have the added benefit of higher clearance.

      It does take a bit more effort to install a suspension lift kit onto a vehicle. It also drastically affects how a vehicle drives and handles, which could potentially make it more dangerous for novices. Experienced off-roading enthusiasts may be able to handle these challenges without a problem, but it is something beginners will have to think about. 

      Finding the right lift kit
      The right lift kit for your project will depend on the make, model and year of the car. You'll also need to consider the size of the tires you want to install on the vehicle, as this will impact the amount of clearance you need. At the very least, you'll have to look at the new tire diameter and width, as well as the rim offset. 

      Once these details are figured out, you can start shopping around for the right Jeep lift kit, Toyota lift kit or other tool that helps to make modifications to a vehicle. 

    • Batman-inspired truck steals the show at Comic Con

      Most superheroes know how to get around in style. Whether it's Wonder Woman's invisible car or Superman's famous ability to fly, these iconic characters frequently make waves with their chosen mode of transportation. Another top-notch vehicle that made its way into comic book lore is the Batmobile, which Batman uses to make his way around Gotham. Fictional versions of the car are tricked out with plenty of special amenities and out-of-this-world gadgets, but the real-life models that have been created are nothing to scoff at. 

      One modern version of the Batmobile was recently revealed, and this model contains some distinct features that make it unlike anything else that has previously been made - such as the fact that it's the first Batmobile to come in the form of a truck. 

      The Ford Batmobile
      The first Batmobile was constructed in 1965, using spare parts from a hardware store and the body from a Ford Futura concept car. It sold for $4.2 million at a car auction in January 2013. George Barris was the mastermind behind that vehicle, and his grandson, Jared Barris, led the charge for this updated Batmobile truck as a way to pay homage to his grandfather. 

      During the opening day of San Diego Comic Con, July 18, one Southern California customizer unveiled "The Crimefighter." Constructed from a Ford F-150, this modified truck underwent a few rounds of repairs and upgrades to make it fit for a superhero. The finished product has a tuxedo black paint job with red accents - much like its famous predecessor. Its bed has fins added for a special touch and the appearance of speed, while the engine is a 5.0-liter V8. It may not have some of the extras that the original Batmobile did, but it's certainly a sight for fans of trucks. 

      Not your average truck mods
      The changes made to the Ford F-150 to create this new Batmobile are not among the popular truck mods that drivers make when customizing their off-road vehicle. However, that doesn't mean off-roading enthusiasts can't make some similar alterations to achieve a look like the Batmobile. 

      While you may have your own ideas in mind as you set out to make truck modifications, those drivers who are fans of Batman can recreate this Batmobile - for a price. No exact details about the cost of such a makeover have been released, but it's sure to cost a pretty penny and ring up a much higher sticker price than doing your own modifications.  

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