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60 4x4 Truck Parts, Upgrades, Tips & Tricks - 60 Budget Tricks, Tips& Upgrades

Posted in How To on May 1, 2009
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Times are tough, the economY is in in the dumps, jobs are slowing down, and by the time this goes to press the price of gas could be up again. It's a total crapshoot as to where the world will be in the next 30 days. But that doesn't mean it's time to nail shut the windows, sell your truck, and hide in your basement. We're here to offer you some options. The way we see it, you have three choices: Ignore your 4x4, buy stuff for your 4x4, or figure out some cheap or free upgrades. Since we're not suggesting the first option, we decided to help you with the second two. These upgrades will help you get ready to go wheeling, get down the trail, and make it home in one piece. Plus the free upgrades will save you money, and those that cost something will help both you and the economy by pumping in some important fun and funds. So soak up these tips, tricks, and wicked widgets to get you out of the basement and out there wheeling.

1. The Ultimate Puncture Kit
We're hard on tires and have probably made more trail repairs than a small army. This affordable puncture-repair kit is the most extensive setup we've run across. The kit contains enough supplies to repair punctures, tears, and broken valve stems on tires of all sizes, multiple times. Everything is also packed into this neat-looking safari-style zippered bag. Information: Extreme Outback Products, 866.447.7711, www.extremeoutback.com

2. Recharge Remedy
Many of the spiral cell Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) filled batteries are well known in the off-road scene for their no-leak, vibration-resistant, mount-anywhere ability, but many features about them are misunderstood. For example, this style battery has very low internal resistance, which is great for getting all the power to the terminals, but it also allows them to trickle down to very low voltage if left installed in a vehicle with key-off electrical loads. If unhooked and stored fully charged, an AGM battery (such as an Optima) will hold a higher voltage than a conventional battery. However, if your 4x4 has an alarm, clocks, or radio memory settings, you should simply disconnect the battery or use a low-amperage desulfation battery maintainer if it's going to be parked for months. If you have a spiral cell or any AGM that seems dead, don't send it in for warrantee replacement just yet. First hook it in parallel to a known good battery and then put it on a battery charger. Because of the low internal resistance it could have simply dropped below the voltage required for some newer chargers to recognize, and the battery may have some sulfation buildup. You'll need the second battery to trick the charger into staying on until the assumed dead battery takes a charge. This process is one of the best manual methods of reconditioning almost any sulfated battery.

3. Plug It
A sound investment for any wheeler is a good set of spark plugs. Relatively cheap and easy to install, you can pick up a set of XP Xtreme Performance spark plugs from Autolite at most automotive retailers. While you are there it might be a good time for a new set of plug wires as well. Information: Autolite, www.autolite.com


4. Gettin' the Kinks Out
Rock magnets-er, tie rods-always seem to take their fair share of abuse. After a day on the trail yours might look more like a paperclip. The easiest fix is to run your winch cable around the axle, hook to the tie rod, and pull it straight. The trick is to use a couple locking pliers on each side of the winch hook to keep it from sliding to one side or the other when the winch cable is under tension.

5. Groovin'
One of the most painful things to watch is someone cutting up a brand-new set of tires. Some wheelers cut tiny grooves into the tires to help gain traction in the rocks, while others go as far as cutting out entire lugs in hopes of gaining performance in the mud. There are a few aftermarket tools made specifically for tire grooving, but we've see guys use everything from angle grinders to Sawzalls to chop up their rubber into custom creations.

6. Fram Bam
It seems elemental, but too often guys neglect their air filters. Now we know not all of you want to spring for a full intake kit, but when you can pick up a wide variety of Fram drop-in air filters for less than a cheap meal for two, you really don't have any excuse. So save your engine and a little fuel economy! Information: Fram, www.fram.com


7. Synthetic Protection
These Delrin Viking rollers are designed for use with synthetic winch lines and are an economical approach to replacing the factory galvanized rollers. The high-strength Delrin is abrasion- and heat-resistant and has a smooth surface to protect your synthetic winch line. The rollers are 68 percent lighter than galvanized rollers. Information: Winchline.com, 818.506.9789, www.winchline.com

8. C2-JK
Engineered to strengthen the inner axle Cs on the '07-to-present Jeep Wrangler JKs, the C2 axle gussets from Off Road Evolution are a great addition for JK owners running 35-inch or taller tires. Made of 3/16-inch steel and designed to work with both the Dana 30 and Dana 44 axles, the laser-cut and CNC-bent gussets weld right in place. Information: Off Road Evolution, 714.870.5515, www.offroadevolution.com

9. Enlightened
Times are tough, so head on over to your local Dollar Tree or 99-cent Store (whatever's in your area), and cruise the aisles for some inexpensive solutions to help prepare for your next wheeling trip. For three bucks we bought a small LED push light, some adhesive magnet strips, and batteries to make a wheeler's work light. We didn't want to stick the light to the truck permanantly, so we stuck it to the magnet strips instead. Now whenever we need to perform a little night-run maintenance out in the boonies, we have a light that will stick magnetically wherever we need illumination...making the sun shine where it don't!

10. Better Than Superglue
It is true. Zip ties really can fix anything. On a recent outing we were having problems keeping the locking hubs from falling apart and falling off our '99 Ranger. Out of spares and not wanting to go home, we devised this plan to keep the hubs on the truck using nothing but zip ties. It worked and we kept wheeling. So remember this: Zip ties truly can fix anything. Always keep a stash in your truck!



11. Wax-Off
Breaking loose rusted nuts and bolts can involve hours of headaches and four-letter words, but the good ol' tricks can really help in their removal. One we've used multiple times is heating the offending nut or bolt with a torch. An oxyacetylene torch is best, but even a small propane torch will work if you let it heat long enough. Once the parts are too hot to touch, apply some wax to the thread. The wax should melt and seep into the threads between the nut and bolt, helping to break it loose.

12. Gas-out
Everyone knows that a fire extinguisher is an important part of every trail-running 4x4, but there is more to it than a red canister with a trigger. The MaxOut extinguishers from H3R pack a fluidized and siliconized mono-ammonium phosphate dry chemical punch to stop automotive flames in their tracks. They are A-, B-, and C-rated so they are effective against wood and paper (A), chemical (B), and electrical (C) fires, all of which can show up during a bad day of four-wheeling or just wrenching around the shop. Information: H3R, 800.249.4289, www.h3rperformance.com

13. Uplifting idea
We modified the concept of a vertical lifting device by using the lifting shackles on the bumper to pivot a towbar-looking contraption we welded together out of 2-inch tube and 2x4 tube. We used a Warn PullzAll hooked from the rollcage to the top of the pole for some vertical movement; while the Jeep-mounted Warn 8274-50 winch runs its cable through the snatch block off the end of the pole down to the load. Special wooden blocks are also installed between the frame and springs to control suspension squat. While we wouldn't try lifting Cummins diesel blocks, it sure is handy for moving heavy parts around the yard.

14. Flame On
Welding and soldering metals generally produces heat, spark, or flame. If you are working on an enclose container, make sure it is properly vented before turning on the torch. This air canister had been cleaned in a flammable solvent and was then left to dry for a day. However, the absorbent batting inside didn't completely dry out, causing the explosive vapors to violently exhaust toward the heat source. Just like a fuel tank, the unit should have been fitted with a forced-air or CO2 system or filled with water before being worked on. While it made for a good photo, it could have had scorching results.

15. Sunshine Blinders
Wearing prescription eyeglasses makes standard sunglass choices unrealistic. Fitovers brand sunglasses fit over your eyeglasses, which is considerably less expensive than prescription sunglasses. Fitovers also have smaller sizes for smaller frames, not just the large style shown here, and all styles feature polarized lenses for maximum protection and wrap-around styling. Originally developed in Australia, they have scratch-resistant lenses, and each pair comes with a carrying case. Information: Fitovers, 888.834.8872, www.fitovers.com

16. Level With Me
Got a late-model pickup just begging for some bigger tires and a more aggressive stance? Bilstein has you covered with its 5100 series leveling shock kit. This kit is the perfect alternative to the traditional strut extender or spring-spacer kits common for newer trucks. By replacing the entire shock, Bilstein has managed to eliminate many of the problems typically associated with leveling kits, such as ball-joint bind and reduced downtravel, while giving a smooth controlled ride and an additional 1 to 2 inches of usable wheel travel. The Bilstein 5100 leveling shock comes with three height settings from stock to 2 1/2 inches of lift, depending on application. Information: Bilstein of America, www.bilstein.com

17. Battery Basics
When choosing an Optima battery for your 4x4, get a dual-purpose (deep cycle and starting) battery instead of just a starting battery. The dual-purpose batteries are great for cranking power as well as having the deep cycle that is needed for accessories like winches and off-road lights. We recommend the Yellow- or BlueTop versions, but be sure they have the dual-purpose light gray body, not the dark bodies which are indicative of the starter batteries. Also remember that major components like starters and winches should be attached to the large lead posts with low-draw accessories attached to the smaller threaded posts. Information: Optima Batteries, 888.867.8462, www.optimabatteries.com

18. Store More On Your Door
The Element doors from Bestop are great for trail protection since they have a steel tubular frame, but they also have removable fabric covers with multiple pockets for stuff like a cell phone, tow straps, recovery gear, a peanut butter sandwich, and tools. Plus the fabric covers can be installed with the pocket either inside or out of the doors so access is easy no matter where you sit. And there are mounting holes for the original rearview mirrors already drilled in the doors. The assembly and installation is so easy you'll have the doors installed and be pack-muling down the trail in no time. Information: Bestop, 800.845.3567, www.bestop.com

19. Spot On
Some inexpensive yet sturdy off-road light mounts can be had by searching your local junkyard for a pair of trailer mirror mounts as used by Detroit on some older trucks. The ones shown here are from late '70s/early '80s Ford trucks. Once it's bolted solidly to your door or cowl, all you need to do is mount your off-road lights where the mirror once was. An added goodie to this setup is that the lights can be easily angled outward to shine out across the countryside; just grab the mount and fold it inward.

20. Hydration Hanger
We all know the benefits of staying hydrated. (For those of us over the age of 40, that means drinking...water!) Throwing a bottle into your rig for later and then bouncing down a trail has a way of making that bottle of water vanish, only to be found days or weeks later squashed under a seat or crammed behind a cooler. Instead, grab one of those bottle-and-mount dealios made for bicycling. Mount it to your shifter or top bow with the supplied mounts or use some long worm clamps to attach it to your rollcage. Now your hydration container is clamped within reach for those hot summer trails.

21. Rust Never Sleeps
Are you tired of opening a rusty toolbox or bag? This trick little device from 3-In-One will protect your tools and keep them rust-free by releasing a metal-seeking, vapor-phase corrosion inhibitor that migrates through the enclosed space of a toolbox or trail tool bag to form an invisible layer that seals metals against air and moisture that can cause rust and corrosion. Information: 3-In-One, 800.448.9340, www.norustshield.com

22. Wee Wheeling
We've all been there. The rig's broken, all hope of fixing it is gone, we are broke, and-let's face it-four-wheeling is an addiction and we need to get our fix somewhere. So while the fullscale rigs are down, why not turn to the R/C world to satisfy the hunger? The new Slayer from Traxxas should fill that void nicely. This 10th scale R/C truck is powered by a powerful TRX 3.3 nitro engine, has full-time four-wheel drive for when the ground gets soft and an auto-shifting two-speed transmission, and comes ready to run right out of the box! Capable of going 50 mph, the Slayer is sure to get you your dirt fix and, when it goes upside-down in 50 years, drain your wallet just like its fullscale brethren. Information: Traxxas, www.traxxas.com

23. Silicone Implant
Cutting wire with diagonal pliers usually means releasing a dangerous missile in the form of the metal clipped off the end. You don't want one of those in your eye! To avoid the problem, start by using either a rubberband or tape to hold the handles of your cutting pliers closed, and then fill the concave area with some silicone sealer. After letting the sealer cure, use a razor blade or knife to slit the jaws open again. Now when you cut with the pliers, the small shrapnel will be held by the silicone (make sure you turn the pliers with the doctored side of the jaws toward the small clipping). Missile aborted.

24. Inflate your Ego
Having available air pressure to reflate your tires is a snap with a portable air compressor. If you have regular size tires or anything less than 35s, this Firestone 9289 air compressor kit may be for you. The 150-psi maximum pressure and 1.69-cfm model fills our 31s from 15 to 30 psi in about a minute. It comes with a 12-foot power cable with alligator clips for direct battery hook-up. The 25-foot coiled air hose reaches all the way around our rig and clamps onto the stem so you don't have to babysit it. The dial-indicator pressure gauge is easy to read, and everything fits in a handy carrying case. Information: Firestone, 800.888.0650, www.ride-rite.com

25. Carpod
Designed for the true outdoor enthusiast, the Carpod is a simple and easy way to carry all your extra gear and adventure accessories. Made to hold up to 450 pounds and equipped with a lockable lid, the 48-inch-wide deck is built tough and fitted with a powdercoat finish to help withstand the elements. Sliding into a 2-inch receiver and loading up all your 4x goodies and camping necessities has never been easier, especially when your rig's rough rack is just too far out of reach. Information: Carpod, 818.395.8676, www.carpodrack.com

26. Chicks Dig Clean Hands
Our granddad's dad used Lava soap to clean his hardworking hands, and we're continuing the tradition. Lava uses pumice to safely clean the dirtiest and greasiest mechanic's hands. It comes in bar or liquid and can be purchased from just about any grocery store. Information: Lava, 800.448.9340, www.lavasoap.com


27. No New Car
Finally, an excuse not to get a new car! That's right; you can upgrade your ride to '09 safety standards by installing the Schrader AirAware wireless tire-pressure monitoring upgrade kit! Simply replace your standard tire valves with these handy blue transmitter models and place the receiver on the dash. After a setup sequence, you now have a modern tire-pressure and temperature-monitoring system for a fraction of the cost of a new 4x4. Easy to install and set up, the system has a battery life estimated at about five years. Information: Schrader-Bridgeport, www.schrader-bridgeport.com

28. Free Torque
We can't carry every tool in our trail bags, and sometimes the longer tools like breaker bars just have to be left at home. Two box-end wrenches can be fitted together to achieve greater torque than just one smaller-length wrench. This trick can be used to either loosen or tighten a nut or bolt.


29. Get Lifted
All those cool high-zoot parts you got for your truck aren't going to install themselves. You need a quality floor jack. We've all had a floor jack-a pile of junk that can barely lift one corner of your truck, doesn't reach high enough to get the tires off the ground, or that works well but weighs a metric ton and is a pain to drag out of the garage. Craftsman has a solution, the new 3-Ton Craftsman Professional Aluminum Floor Jack. This jack can lift 6,000 pounds, weights only 57 pounds, and lifts up to 18.5 inches-high enough to change those 37s with ease! Information: Craftsman, www.craftsman.com

30. Another Plug For Soap
An important fluid you don't want leaking all over the trail is gasoline. If a bit of driver error ("Where did that rock come from?") causes a pinhole leak in your gas tank, neither duct tape nor electrical tape will hold a seal. Instead, rub or forcefully push a bar of soap into the pinhole leak. The soap will seal the tank and stop the leak at least until you get back home and can fix it properly.

31. More Length In Bed
Let's face it, truck beds are not getting any longer. It would seem the age of the longbed is over. So what's a guy to do when the truck parts or toys he wants to haul are longer than his truck bed? In steps Amp Research with its line of Bed X-Tender truck bed extenders. Simply drop your tailgate and flip out the Bed X-Tender, and suddenly you can fit that Dana 60 axle in your crew-cab shortbed. Don't haul many axles? How about firewood? With the Bed X-Tender we can fit our ATV, gas, cooler, and gear for a weekend out in the desert in our tiny 51/2-foot bed. Amp Research has you covered with a Bed X-Tender for nearly every make and model of truck imaginable, and they're distributed nationally by Bestop. Information: Bestop, www.bestop.com

32. Powered Up
Ever find yourself looking for a place to plug in your phone or the travel mug you found at the last truck stop, only to realize that all your 12V outlets are occupied? We have all been there. A quick and simple solution to this common problem is to add more outlets. For less than 20 bucks at your local auto parts store, you can pick up an all-weather outlet, which is perfect for installing in the bed of your pickup or in the rear of your rock rig, and a fuse holder. Just run power and ground wires to wherever you want your new outlet, and you have instant 12V for whatever truck-stop gadget catches your eye this week!

33. Real Reel
We've seen all sorts of rolled-up air-compressor hoses on the trail, from flimsy coiled crap to industrial-strength air couplings on a reel. We saw this new Amflo ProTuff AutoReel unit and knew it would fit on one of our rigs, and another one would go in the shop. The key is the lightweight yet durable design. The hose is 1/4- or 3/8-inch polyurethane, which is far lighter than the standard rubber shop hose. It comes in a handy enclosure, with a 36-inch intake line and 50 feet of high-quality line in the ratcheting reel. Information: Plews & Edelmann, 800.770.4639, www.plewes-edelmann.com

34. Powder Cake
Do-it-yourself powdercoating kits have come a long way, but the problem for most guys isn't spraying the parts; it's finding an oven to cook them in. So if your wife's been bugging you about getting a new oven because the eyes don't cook like they used to, it might be time to take the old cooker from the house and toss it in the garage. A household conventional oven is usually large enough to cook a 15x10 wheel in, and you can use the original racks to hang small parts from.

35. Big Blower
Having an air compressor on the trail is helpful for airing up or reseating tires as well as running pneumatic tools. We've used many different styles of compressors and CO2 tanks, but if you have the space, a modified York-style A/C compressor is hard to beat. It is possible to modify a junkyard A/C unit, or you can contact Kilby for a complete kit that includes a new pump, multiple air-chuck fittings, a reservoir tank, and a coalescing filter that captures any oil that pumps into the system from the compressor and plumbs it back to the pump. Information: Kilby Enterprises, 818.565.5945, www.kilbyenterprises.com

36. Thor's Rope
Whether your winch is new or old, swapping in winch rope is a great idea. Winch rope weighs much less than cable, which relieves the front suspension and makes it easier to handle when trying to recover a vehicle. Winch rope won't kink, rust, or fray the way steel cable can, making it safer to use. As for strength, we found that the Viking winchline we recently outfitted a project truck with is nearly twice as strong as similar-sized steel cable. We used a Viking winchline with the safety hook for recovery in the worst-case scenarios. Information: Viking Off Road, 818.506.9789, www.vikingoffroad.com

37. Shrink Your Bulbs
If you want (or need) to run turn signals on your small 4x4, most of the aftermarket and junkyard lenses and housings seem much too large. Clearance lights are a more pleasing size but only have single-filament bulbs (which don't allow both parking and turn signals). Dual-filament bulbs such as the ubiquitous No. 1157 are too big to fit behind a small lens. The trick is to go to an auto parts store and buy these small dual-filament bulbs (No. 87) and standard twin-contact sockets made to fit offset-pin bulbs. These bulbs are designed for motorcycles and are about half the size of a normal dual-filament automotive bulb.

38. Better Than High Beams
If you would like to get rid of your Jeep's or truck's weak and old yellow lighting, then Delta Headlights makes stock replacements for just about any rig. The DOT headlights are powered by xenon gas-filled replaceable bulbs, which will outperform stock headlights 4 to 1. The headlights feature European prismatic lead-crystal lenses, vacuum-metalized steel reflector, and a rubber boot protecting the optics from moisture and elements. Information: Delta Tech Industries, 714.577.8028, www.deltatechindustries.com

39. TAD: Tape-Aided Design
We can't afford to waste money on extra steel tubing that is just going to rust away in the yard after our project is complete. But how do you know how much tube to buy for that rollcage project? Simple! Just mock up your design with masking tape. By creating a tape cage first, you can easily calculate the number of feet of tubing you are going to need. You can also make design changes that would not be easy or cheap to make once the sparks start flying.

40. Doing Acid
Cleaning battery terminals and cables can be a daunting job. The natural corrosion set up by electrolysis can keep your ride from starting. While careful cleaning and scraping are the best methods to use, a can of cola will help. Simply dump a can over the terminals and watch the fizz do its thing. Keep away from the bubbling goo though, because the acid may spatter on your clothes, paint, or eyeballs. Also, rinse with plenty of water on top and on the ground as it dribbles underneath, because discoloration could result otherwise.

41. Down Track
When removing a factory track bar from the frame, wrap a ratchet strap around the track bar and tie rod. The added pressure from the ratchet will help drop the bar out while you free the pressed fit end by hitting the bracket with a hammer.




42. Impeach the King
When rebuilding a front kingpin Dana 60, the upper kingpin cone can be nearly impossible to remove since it is installed to about 550 lb-ft of torque. If the kingpin doesn't have any scarring or scratches it can be reused, but if it's damaged then it needs to be replaced. The best trick we've found is to cut around the base of the kingpin with a cut-off wheel, being careful not to nick the seal surface on the end forging. This cut releases the stress on the kingpin. Next, you simply install a piece of 7/8-inch hex stock in the kingpin and put a 7/8-inch socket and impact on the other end to turn the kingpin out of the housing.

43. Raid The Kitchen
Before you hit the trail, it's helpful to raid the kitchen for a few items that might help if you have a breakdown. If you need to fix or remove a thermostat and drain the radiator, you might need some coffee filters to strain crud out of the coolant when you pour it back in. Even muddy water could be used if it's filtered first. Aluminum foil roasting pans can catch leaking transmission fluid or engine oil should a rock rip you a new drain hole. Empty gallon milk jugs (with screw-on lids) can store any of these fluids until they can be properly disposed of (recycled) at trail's end. Everything here cost us about four bucks.

44. Air Travel
Air-Zenith is a company that specializes in air compressors from small portable units to mega-sized ones that can control your entire suspension. A great tool to have in your daily driver or off roader, AZ's portable compressor kit comes complete with a plug kit, a gauge, and a gracious amount of flex hose. Connecting directly to your battery, it works great on light-duty applications, but we suggest opting for a larger unit if you'll be filling up large (38-plus) tires on a regular basis. Information: Air-Zenith, 702.270.7988, www.air-zenith.com

45. Blinded
Roof-mounted off-road lights are a great way to light up the trail for some exciting night wheeling! But as anybody with lights mounted on his roof knows, there is a down side. Lights mounted at the front of the roof on a vehicle with a windshield will cause horrible glare off the hood and windshield. Solution: duct tape. By running a strip of tape across the bottom of the light you will eliminate the annoying and sometimes blinding glare while not affecting the usable light.

46. Wireless Winch Remote
This cool little wireless winch remote from Warn Industries is not only a convenient way to control your winch, it's also added safety. The remote can be used from 50 feet away or from the comfort of the vehicle. It will keep you from jumping out in the mud or being washed away when your rig is swamped in a river. The wireless remote is rugged and weatherproof and small enough to be kept in your pocket or glovebox. Information: Warn Industries, 800.543.9276, www.warn.com

47. Hats Off
Once you have a pair of off-road lights you'll want to protect them from flying rocks or debris (and some states require they be covered when you're on pavement anyway). We've seen cheap covers made by duct-taping Frisbees over the lights, but we like this idea: Pull some old stretchy beanies (or stocking caps) over the lights. They're cheap and don't require any duct tape to hold them in place. Besides, tailgunners already eat enough dust. They shouldn't have to deal with broken lights. And if you get cold, grab one off the light for your head!

48. Light The Night
Tow rigs need love too. Having the most bad-ass rock rig won't help much if you can't find your camp in the dark. With its sleek and simple styling, the KC HiLites lightbar makes a great addition to any tow rig. The KC lightbar is a simple bolt-on application and in most cases installs in less than 15 minutes. Pair the bar up with a set or two of KC Rally 800 130-watt halogen or 35-watt HID lights, and the dark is nothing to be feared! Information: KC HiLites, www.kchilites.com

49. Do Fence Me In
The next time you need a simple, lightweight bracket, take a look at your local hardware store or home center for these preformed, galvanized-metal tie brackets used for fencing. They won't look the prettiest, but they just might save you some time since you won't need to find, cut, and bend your own steel. Pick out one that's closest to your needs, and then trim, bend, or otherwise modify it to suit. Most of these brackets are made of light-gauge metal so you won't be using them to hang a spare tire on, but they're great for a gauge, a CB mike, a brake proportioning valve, or what have you.

50. Lookin' Good
Even though we love the rusty and patina'd look of 4x4s and metalwork, we also like shine and protection. There's a billion paint products on the market for metal and plastic trim, but we have found SEM Products paint to be the best. SEM's paint products may cost a few more bucks a can, but it is professional paint and will last far longer than the 99-cent rattlecans from the local home center. Information: SEM Products, 800.331.1122, www.semproducts.com

51. Super Sucker
This Super Siphon can suck up and transfer 5 gallons of any liquid in as little as 90 seconds. The siphon safely transfers fuels, gasoline, diesel, and water. It's easy to use. Just drop the pump end, which works like a check valve, into whatever liquid you want to siphon, and snap the hose up and down a few times to start the flow. The check valve allows the liquid into the hose but not back out. Information: Off Road Trail Tools, 520.579.2079, www.offroadtrailtools.com

52. Have A Belt
A great salvage yard find is old seatbelts. They are cheap and plentiful. Since you're probably already using fancy five-point harnesses for securing your human cargo, use some old belts for safely securing your nonhuman cargo. Bolt each end of the belt solidly to the floor using fender washers, then just click the buckle and tighten the strap over whatever stuff you need to hold. Your cargo can easily be retrieved by releasing the buckle.

53. Kitty Clean up
Many of you use some sort of oil soak or cat litter for cleaning up messes from under leaking axles or engines. But did you know the trick to making it work even better? After you pour the oil soak on the offending spill, flip your push broom over and use the back of the broom (or a nearby 2x4 piece of wood) to grind the granules into the oil. The grinding breaks up the small bits and helps soak up more mess. Then simply sweep it up.

54. Not a Twisted wrench
The newest Craftsman wrench puts a new twist on an old design. While not twisted, the combination open-end/box-end wrench has a ratcheting feature in the box end, which is also specially angled. The beam of the wrench is also offset 90 degrees for better ergonomics and ease of pulling or pushing with your hands. Polished in dazzling chrome plate this is one wrench set that any mechanic would be happy to have in their toolbox. Information: Craftsman, www.craftsman.com

55. Made in the Shade
While having exprience with different-sized tubes and bolts can make identification a snap, it isn't always foolproof. One of our favorite tools is the tubing sizer from Made-4-You Products. This handy little disc is engraved and cut to 12 different outside-diameter tubing sizes. It so happens it also works for SAE bolts, which makes that 1/4x20 seem painfully different from the 5/16x18 you thought you were holding. Made-4-You also specializes in fasteners, clips, clamps, and hose covers. Information: Made-4-You Products, 760.868.6962, www.made4youproducts.com

56. Cheap Strength
Corner gussets are a great way to add strength to whatever structure you are building, weather it be a skyscraper, bridge, or even an off-road truck. Joes Racing Products offers a great high-strength, low-cost option for adding some real safety and rigidity to your off-road truck or buggy chassis. These tube gussets are made of 3060 mild steel and fit 1 1/2-, 1 5/8-, and 1 3/4-inch tubing on joints of 70 to 90 degrees. At just over a buck apiece, there is no reason not to use them! Information: Joes Racing Products, www.joesracing.com

57. Swiss Army Wrench
Hitting the junkyard is a favorite pastime of ours, but hauling our complete toolbox along for the ride gets old. Now we just throw two of the new Craftsman 4-in-1 wrenches in our pocket. Each wrench has two different ratcheting heads, and each head fits two different-sized bolts. One wrench fits 9/16-, 5/8-, 11/16-, and 3/4-inch bolts, while the other fits 5/16-, 3/8-, 7/16-, and 1/2-inch. Information: Craftsman can be bought at your local Sears store or through www.craftsman.com

58. Darn Tough Diff Covers
Dynatrac has been building high-quality, tough, and dependable axles for years, and its differential covers are just as rugged. These are the originals. They may cost a little more up front but could save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills. The covers are available for Ford 10.25 and 10.5, GM 10.5, and Dana 30, 35, 44, 50, 60, and some 70 applications. The covers easily bolt on in just a few minutes. Information: Dynatrac, 714.596.4461, www.dynatrac.com

59. Grand Gold
A cheap steering upgrade for TJ, XJ, and six-cylinder ZJ owners is using the stronger solid stock lower tie rod from '93-'98 Jeep Grand Cherokees equipped with the V-8. Bolted in place without any modification, it takes the place of the flimsy stock bar and can be picked up anywhere from junkyards to your local auto parts store.


60. Nut Driver
If you need to thread on a nut, but the bolt is out of fingers grips, then try putting a rubber sleeve onto a long screwdriver and set your nut and washer at the end. Using the screwdriver's length you can slide the driver into those deep frame pockets and use the sleeve to start the nut on the bolt.


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