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Budget Four Wheelers Rock Crawlers 4x4 Truck Parts - 4X Formula - Low-Buck Buildups

Posted in Features on January 1, 2003
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Bank accounts all over the country are hovering near their minimum balance requirements thanks to the sport of off-roading. So what? What else are you going to spend your money on? This isn't just some stupid hobby! With that said, we know you shell out money every month to buy 4-Wheel & Off-Road. So we want to try and save you as much cash as we can on all your other off-road related purchases. If we do our jobs well, you simply won't be able to afford not to buy every issue of 4-Wheel & Off-Road.

This month we wanted to put together some recipes to build what we think are the four styles of off-road vehicles-no matter what rig you start with. You'll notice that we don't even mention brakes, lift kits, rollbars, or winches. That's because we think that as important as that stuff is, there are other modifications you need to make first. Now don't get us wrong. The best 4x4s are as good as they are because they combine a balance of the things listed here with safety, performance, and spare parts. But keep in mind that your vehicle was originally designed primarily for street use, and we want to show you the most economical way to make it into a better off-road vehicle.

The other thing about selecting components is to buy the best stuff you can afford. The harder something is to replace, the more important it is to buy the right part the first time. At the opposite end of the spectrum are things like tires, batteries, and anything that is easy to unbolt and replace. We don't want you to be afraid to experiment with less expensive options that could suit your needs while saving you money. That way you can spend the big bucks on things that your particular rig needs the most.

Mud Bogger
Mud trucks haven't changed much in the last 10 years. They're all about big tires and bigger engines. They are also why the winch and the buddy system were invented. We think mud trucks could really benefit from softer, longer-travel suspensions to keep you from bouncing over ruts, but for now we'll focus on the basics.

1.Tow Rope-No one can help you if you don't have a strap or rope that they can use to pull you out. Get something with at least a 30,000-pound capacity. And we'll assume that you have at least one good tow hook in the front and rear. If we're wrong, buy those too.

2. Tires-There are two kinds of tires in the world: Mud tires and all-terrains. Buy the biggest, most aggressive mud tire you can afford. We'd also recommend wide mud tires because we think it is better to float across the top of mud than to try and dig down through it.

3. Waterproofing-Carburetors can work fine in mud. Just make sure they suck air and fuel, and not water and muck. Buy or make an engine snorkel to move your engine's air intake as high up and far back as practical. Consider mounting the air inlet in the passenger's compartment.

4. Horsepower-The more the better. Nitrous is the cheapest way to get lots of it, but nothing beats a reliable, fire-breathing big-block.

5. Lockers-Run a locker in the rear and a tight limited slip or selectable locker in the front. You want to make sure all four tires always spin, but you'll need to be able to steer too. Gear low enough so that you can spin the tires without redlining the engine.

Rockcrawler
Built to go slow and cling to rocks, these rigs need to keep as much tire on the terrain as possible and ooze over obstacles like molasses. This list isn't for the guy who wants to go rock racing, but will be perfect for anyone who wants to get back to the basics of rockcrawling.

1. Gears-You can't crawl if you can't go slow. So you'll need to swap lower gears into the differentials or transfer case, or use an auxiliary low-range box. Vehicles with a manual transmission usually need lower gears then those with automatics.

2. Tires-The more rubber you can put on the rock the better. Taller tires will also give you a ground clearance advantage. And even though air is free, the less you put in your tires the better.

3. Lockers-If you can't keep all four tires on the ground you'll need lockers front and rear to keep you moving. Spoil yourself with selectable lockers if you can afford it.

4. Body Armor-Plan on buying bumpers and rocker guards if you like crawling on rocks and waxing your paint.

5. Fuel Injection-You don't need a fancy EFI system to bolt on top of your intake. You just want to exchange your carburetor floats and fuel bowls for a couple of injectors and an electric fuel pump. Reliability and a stable idle are the keys here.

PrerunnerSpeed and altitude separate the go-fast prerunner from all other types of 4x4s. Sure, any idiot can jump their rig, but a properly prepped prerunner can defy gravity all day long and not have to be dragged to the junkyard at the end of the day.

1.Suspension Travel-The more you have the faster you can go. Shoot for at least 10 inches. Your truck, back, and bumpstops will tell you if you need more.

2. Tires-Lots of speed and momentum mean you don't need an aggressive tread. You just don't ever want to get a flat tire. BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires dominate the desert race scene and are a great choice if you can afford them.

3. Fiberglass-Your prerunner will jump better, land softer, and go faster if you can make it lighter. Fiberglass hoods, fenders, and bedsides are the Jenny Craig of the off-road world. They also add to the important prerunner look.

4. Prerunner Bumper-Think of it as a chin guard on a football helmet. They are great insurance for those times you come down nose-first. Plus you're going to need a place to mount some off-road lights.

5. Horsepower-By now you're ready to try and win races and not just pre-run them. Build an engine that can turn out peak power for hours on end without coming apart. You'll know you have enough power when you need to add more suspension travel.

Daily DriverWhen your trail vehicle is your only vehicle, you'll need a tamer rig with more on-road manners. A daily driver/trail rig can be the most expensive way to build a 4x4, but then again, there is no need for a tow vehicle-and you're only a full tank of fuel away from your next off-road adventure.

1.Lockers-Having all four tires turn at all times is the best way to make up for inadequate suspension travel. Selectable lockers front and rear can turn you, and your daily driver, into off-road heroes. Short on cash? Then go with dual limited slips front and rear.

2. Swaybar Disconnects-Chances are you're not going to have a ton of suspension travel available with a stock height rig. Make sure you can use all you have by adding sway bar disconnects.

3. Tires-Find the biggest all-terrain tire that will fit in your wheelwells without rubbing. When selecting a tread style you need to remember the tires will see way more pavement than dirt.

4. Body Armor-Keep in mind that your 4x4 has to get you to work on Monday. Buy a strong front bumper and some rocker guards, especially if the bank owns more of your ride than you do.

5. Horsepower-We've never met a single truck owner that was satisfied with the amount of power their engine made. A new exhaust will add some ponies, but the performance sound is what you're buying. If you want to feel a big difference in acceleration, swap camshafts or add a supercharger.

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