Do you use your 4x4 pickup for commuting during the week and for off-roading on the weekends? If so, your truck falls into what is probably the most popular category, and it's called dual-purpose.
When it comes to modifications for dual-purpose trucks, the goal is to install items that improve on- and off-road performance without significantly detracting from either area. Since it's tax return time we thought it would make sense to offer some recommendations on how you can spend your $2,899 (that's the expected average tax return in 2012), so we rustled up a few items that total close to that figure. We think they'll help improve your dual-purpose pickup.
These retractable running boards hide under your truck when the doors are closed and extend when you open the doors. The beauty of these running boards is that they help make ingress and egress easier for you and your passengers, but they're tucked up and out of the way when you hit the trail for some weekend exploration. The PowerBoard kit (approximately $1,100 street price) includes two running boards that descend up to six inches and are rated at a 600-pound load capacity each. The boards are 6¼ inches wide and made from extruded aluminum with a powdercoat finish and a non-slip textured surface. Also included in the kit is a wiring harness with controller, weatherproof motors, coated fasteners, and pinch-proof technology for safety. As a bonus they also include an LED light kit and hardware for ease of use at night.
Rough Country RS12000 Winch
A common misconception is that a winch is only for those 4x4 trucks driven on extreme trails. The reality is that a winch can be a valuable addition to a dual-purpose rig. With an influx of low-priced winches you now have a number of winch options. One of those is the Rough Country RS12000 electric winch, which has a Rough Country website price of only $399.99. The winch has a six horsepower motor, three-stage planetary geartrain, 94 feet of 38-inch steel cable, automatic braking, replaceable clevis hook, and wireless remote. We'd mount the winch on a receiver cradle so it can be removed when not needed to eliminate weight and improve fuel economy. The cradle could also be mounted in the rear hitch receiver so it can be used for rear pulls or for dragging broken things onto a trailer.
Contact: Rough Country Suspension Systems
Smittybilt Smart Cover
You probably carry stuff around in the bed of your pickup and there's a good chance that you don't want said stuff visible to prying eyes. Or maybe you just want to keep the bed of your truck and its contents dry and clean. Either way, a soft tonneau cover is a great way to accomplish those tasks and still be able to use the bed of your truck as it was intended. The Smittybilt Smart Cover (shown on the company's website for $269.99) is custom fit for each application, comes completely assembled, and features a cam'd speed lock system that makes installation and removal fast and easy. Each cover has a 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum frame, leather grain vinyl cover, bow system to prevent water and snow accumulations, ballistic nylon straps, nylon-reinforced plastic buckles, all-weather sealing system, a cargo net, and a fulcrum hinge system (Smittybilt says that this feature allows the cover to roll back effortlessly).
Auburn Gear ECTED Max Locker
A dual-purpose 4x4 truck will encounter a wide variety of terrain and weather. To help it excel in all environments it needs to be able to get the engine power to the wheels. A limited-slip differential is great for improving traction compared to an open differential, but sometimes you need a locker that sends power equally to both wheels on an axle. On the other hand, you probably don't need, or want, a locker all the time. This is where the Auburn ECTED Max locker is perfect. The ECTED acts as a limited-slip differential by default, but at the flick of a switch becomes a locker. The ECTED can be engaged or disengaged on-the-fly and it's made from aircraft-quality 9310 heat-treated billet steel. The ECTED has a street price of approximately $800.
Contact: Auburn Gear
Skyjacker Leveling Kit
A leveling kit is a great alternative to a complete lift kit for a dual-purpose truck. Skyjacker Suspensions offers leveling kits for a number of pickup trucks and the cost is low ($160 to $300, depending on model). A leveling kit allows you to install a slightly larger tire to improve ground clearance and approach/departure angles. It also does what the name implies and eliminates the nose-over stance common on newer trucks. Heck, you can even install a leveling kit without larger tires if you just want to get rid of your trucks nose-heaviness and improve approach angle. A leveling kit is also handy to offset the weight of a heavy aftermarket bumper and/or winch.
Contact: Skyjacker Suspensions
Wet & Sweat Universal Car Seat Covers
Do you cringe when you have to get in your truck when you're covered in sweat or dirt from working on a project? Do you have a pet that often rides with you and sheds hair or drags in mud? Well, if you like to enjoy your trucks seating surfaces but want occasional protection, the Wet & Sweat Universal Car Seat Covers can help. According to the manufacturer, the covers install and remove in seconds. The 30x60-inch front cover sells for $39 (shipping included) and protects one bucket seat. There's also a 60x60-inch cover available for $65 (shipping included) that can cover a bench seat. The covers are made from waterproof, heavy-duty, high-quality, eco-friendly fabric. They're also lightweight and machine washable. Several colors are available.
Contact: Wet & Sweat
VDP Wheel Well Storage
Need more bed storage but don't want a large toolbox across the front of your trucks cargo bed? Vertically Driven Products' (VDP) lockable wheel well storage attaches and hangs flush on the inside of the cargo bed. It's made from heavy-duty rotational molded plastic and has two divided storage areas (can be used as an ice chest and includes a beveled bottom with built-in drain valve) and a reversible lid (can be used on the right or left side). Model 31100 (shown) includes a 6x9-inch marine-grade speaker, so you can tailgate like a pro. Approximate street price is $165.
Rugged Liner Rear Wheel Well Inner Liners
Some pickup trucks (like the '07-'13 GM and '04-'13 Ford ½-ton trucks) have no rear inner fender liners. This makes for a rather unsightly view, which detracts from your trucks coolness. Rugged Liner makes inner liners (MSRP is $125.33 for a pair) that mount in the rear wheelwells of many GM and Ford trucks and they install in less than 30 minutes. In some applications you won't even have to remove the rear tires to install the liners. In addition to the visible improvement, the liners help protect against damage from rocks, dirt, salt, and road debris. The liners are made from polyethylene and typically mount using three clips and four screws.
Contact: Rugged Liner
Harbor Freight Halogen Work Light
In a perfect world you'd be able to throw light any direction from your truck, even underneath. Wait, there's no reason why you can't with the inexpensive Harbor Freight halogen work light, which is priced at a paltry $12.99 each. At a price like this you can install 'em all over and under your truck. As a bonus, you won't have a financial meltdown if one or more of them is damaged. Each light features a weatherproof rubber housing to protect the lamp against impact, a zinc-plated adjustable bracket with mounting hardware, bright H3 halogen bulb, and a 378-inch-diameter glass lens.
Contact: Harbor Freight