If You're Like Us, Then Four-Wheeling Is As Much A Lifestyle As It Is anything else. We eat, sleep, and dream about dominating the terra firma. So it's only fitting that you surround yourself with every off-road widget you can find. Like the thousands of parts that make our rigs complete, we have compiled here a list of 30 items that will help you wheelaholics feel whole. From books and movies to tools and toys, these are some of the latest and greatest items to fit in any reader's budget.
Tools are designed to make our lives a little bit easier, but too often we overlook some of the most valuable tools available, books. Whether you're trying to determine the gear ratio of your 4x4 or preparing for a complete differential overhaul, the Differentials Identification, Restoration, & Repair book could be some of the most valuable differential information that you may ever read. Jim Allen and Randy Lyman (Randy's Ring & Pinion) have decades' worth of knowledge woven through every page of this book that will have you geared up and prepared to tackle your next differential inquiry with confidence.
Randy's Ring & Pinion
Do you ever wonder what the technician is doing when he plugs the code reader into your car? Or why does that "check engine" light appear and then magically disappear, and what the heck is a P code anyway? The folks over at Haynes have developed a comprehensive guide to walk you through the code-filled world that is your Onboard Diagnostics (OBD). The OBD-II & Electronic Engine Management Systems manual will give you the lowdown on everything you ever wanted to know about your vehicle's computer-related systems and how exactly all those emissions-control components work together to routinely monitor your vehicle's performance. It's a great tool to help understand some of the wiz-bag technology happening underneath your hood and will help dispel certain myths commonly associated with the system.
If you're like us, driving with the windows down is a way of life. But have you ever driven a vehicle that the lips of the seal constantly pinch your arm or it's simply too uncomfortable to rest your arm there? Well, the Arm-Restler is designed to give you back that arm-resting comfort no matter what vehicle you're driving. The small gel-packed pad installs easily into all makes and models and is actually one of those products you might be skeptical of until you put it to use. We've tested it on JKs and think you'll be stoked on it too.
Easy Life Products
Fabricating cool parts for your rig is one of the best things about this hobby. From the bare-metal start to the rattle-bomb finish, we love making stuff with our hands, but sometimes we tend to slack when it comes to the proper safety gear. Luckily for us, Miller Electric has some new protective gear to keep you from losing more than just your cool. With combination jackets and heavy-duty welding gloves, it's easy to keep your vitals protected when creating your very own metal masterpieces. Miller's Elite Series auto-darkening helmets are some of the best in the biz. Their lightweight design and large lens allow for greater visibility and less strain on the neck. Another trick feature is the grind mode that allows the helmet to double as safety goggles when grinding away on your project. Complete with spare lenses and helmet bag, the Elite helmet may be the last one you'll ever buy.
Do you have a '97-'06 Jeep Wrangler that you've been itching to learn more about? Car Tech has a new high-performance builder's guide that provides a bumper-to-bumper look into your TJ. From budget boost to skidplates, there is something for everybody. Written for every enthusiast level, the book includes everything from tips on vehicle recovery and axle identification all the way to the more advanced spectrum of engine swaps and gear-ratio breakdowns. In the end, the High-Performance Jeep Wrangler TJ Builder's Guide is a good library addition for all you TJ gurus out there.
The aftermarket world can be extremely overwhelming at times, especially if you are lucky enough to own the brand with the most aftermarket attention, Jeep. Whether you have a bone-stock Cherokee or a rock-ready CJ-7, Jim Allen's Jeep 4x4 Performance Handbook, 2nd Edition can help you make sense of it all. Using in-depth product breakdowns and detailed explanations, the handbook breaks down many of the hot topics in the aftermarket world. From start to finish, Allen groups each section specifically so you don't find yourself lost in a sea of information. By tackling each section by topic, such as steering and suspension, you can concentrate on the information that interests you the most, giving you the ability to master one hot topic at a time.
We love new tools, for if it weren't for the tool, we'd probably all still be walking with a bit of a hunch and a club in our hands (although we usually pass a few of those on our way to work). Pro Tool has created a device that we can't believe no one has come out with before. Integrating some of the most commonly used standard and metric sizes, the ratcheting hex is easy to use and store and will save you time and aggravation. And with a MSRP under 20 bucks, it's just too good of a deal not to have in your toolbox.
Pro Tool Manufacturing
Let's face it, America, fuel injection has spoiled us rotten. How soon we forget the technology that floated us to this point! Thankfully there are plenty of carburetor lovers across this great land who know and love the simplicity of their old-school systems, and if there was ever a book that could help you understand the what, why, and how of a Carter/Edelbrock carburetor, this is it. This book is not only a valuable tool for the garage, but a well put together manual that explains theory in a way any car nut can understand.
One of the most affordable and best wheeling vehicles ever made is the Jeep Cherokee XJ, and as their reputation precedes them, so has the demand for aftermarket accessories. With so many builds and configurations spanning from '84 to '01, it's nice to have a guide from Cherokee enthusiasts that have been there and built their unibodied machines along the way. Filled with good tech, real-world examples of complete XJ builds, and helpful tidbits about your Jeep, the Jeep Cherokee XJ Builders Guide is a great addition for the flex-box enthusiast.
If you're in the market for an easy performance upgrade for your late-model diesel truck and don't want to fill up your cab with the necessary gauges that usually accompany the soot software, then check out the Bullet from Banks Power. With its easy-to-use, all-in-one 2-inch-diameter gauge you can choose from three available power options-stock, tow, sport-while also monitoring your truck's boost and exhaust gas temperatures (EGT). The kit comes with all the hardware and easy-to-use plug-in connectors. The guys at Banks have taken the all the guesswork out of installation. The Bullet works by plugging inline with the MAP and fuel rail pressure sensor to intercept and modify the factory parameters. Banks does a good job of providing you with detailed instructions and keeping the product as user-friendly as possible. It can easily be installed in your driveway in a few hours, but you will need a drill and tap to insert the pyrometer so that you can start monitoring your truck's EGTs.
Keeping a flashlight with you on the trail is a must, but for a lot of us, we toss them away in our tool bags only to find that when we really need them, the batteries have bellied up. Well, if this rings true for you, we've got some good news. The folks over at Jeep had you in mind when they created their new Jeep Ultra Tough Crank Light. Small enough to fit in your Wrangler's glovebox, this waterproof light provides you with 60 minutes of twin LED lighting, or 20 minutes of the powerful center light, and it even comes with plug-in adapters so you can charge your cell phone! And when the power wears out, just simply flip the lever out and crank it up for 60 seconds and you're back in business. Now that's what we call a bright idea.
RP Film Productions just released its fourth installment of its famed Haulin' or Crawlin' video series jammed full of mobile jungle gyms climbing rocks, flipping over, and jumping through the air. Although these tube creations are quite impressive in person, after about 15 minutes of the video everything starts to look the same. So if these little metal masterpieces are what you live for, go grab a copy, but if you're more into vehicles that still...well, look like vehicles, check out our Ultimate Adventure video series available online now! (Ed.: Shameless plug, we know.)
The Staun internal bead locks are a dependable and economical way to keep your tire beads locked onto your wheels while running low air pressure. These internal bead locks are almost half the price of a bead-lock wheel and offer comparable tire bead-holding power. They also help grip to the inside tire bead, not just the outside. Fully inflated, the bead lock extends about 2 inches above the lip of the wheel. If the tire were to completely deflate, it would ride on the Staun bead lock, protecting the wheel.
These are the original JK air bumpstops designed by Off Road Evolution. They'll take the jolt out of extreme terrain when your vehicle's suspension bottoms out. The bumpstop fits neatly in the upper factory bumpstop mount on the front of your Wrangler. The coil spring needs to be removed, and then some minor cutting has to be completed at the top of the factory bumpstop mount.
Off Road Evolution
The QuietRide ball-mount hitch with security lock provides a sound-damping connection between your vehicle and trailer. QuietRide's hitch has two components that work together to ensure you have a safe and quiet ride. The threaded stainless steel hitch pin tightens securely to a nut fixed to the inside of the ball mount's inner wall. The ball mount is pulled into the corner of the receiver hitch by the tightening action of the gold wedge and pin. This three-dimensional cinching eliminates all of the movement that causes the clanking sound you hear when starting, stopping, and cornering.
Daystar Products now offers these 7.6-inch off-road lights to brighten your nighttime wheeling adventures. The lights are designed with high-impact housings and tough, crystal-clear glass. Each light comes with a 55-watt halogen H1 bulb and a protective light cover, and 100- and 130-watt bulbs are also available. Daystar offers an easy-to-install wiring kit that comes complete with dual rocker switches and two relays. A wiring kit with dual micro switches is also available.
Daystar Products International Inc.
The Quick Fist mounting clamps are perfect for off-road vehicles because they make the mounting of tools, shovels, hoses, axes, rifles, fishing gear, and recovery equipment easy. The clamps will hold any object with a diameter of 1 to 21/2 inches safely and securely. We have also mounted them to the tops of fenderwells and to the side of inner body panels.
End Of The Road INC.
This compact, battery-powered MIG welder operates on two or three 12-volt DC batteries in series, producing 200 to 350 amps of power for deep penetration of metals. For thin metal, a 12- and a 6-volt battery connected in series to produce 18 DC volts and lower amps work without burning through your project. Use it as a spool gun or as a stand-alone welder. The Ready Welder II can be used with or without a gas tank, as with flux-core electrode wire.
Ready Welder CORP.
You guessed it: another spark plug! The E3 spark plug is the result of many years of research to supposedly create a plug with more power. We have tried them and like them. It's difficult to tell if there has been an actual power increase in the vehicle without dyno testing, but it definitely feels like there's more pep in its performance.
E3 Spark Plugs
This new, full-color edition of Colorado Trails includes meticulous details for 867 miles of the region's best scenic backroads and four-wheel-drive trails in southwest Colorado. The featured trails are around the towns of Silverton, Ouray, Durango, Telluride, Lake City, and Creede. Four-wheel adventurers will see ghost towns such as Animas Forks, numerous old mines and mill workings, old railroads, and stage lines along the 48 trail routes. The book also includes a historical retrospective of each featured area. The fully illustrated Colorado Trails has hundreds of color photos of the spectacular Rocky Mountains and countryside, and it includes easy-to-read maps and historical black-and-white images of yesteryear. The book also includes turn-by-turn map instructions with corresponding GPS coordinates. We highly recommend this book for traveling and exploring southwest Colorado.
The ARB Freezer Fridge has been around for a while and it is very cool-literally. Dealing with regular coolers and ice can be a drag. Your food can get jostled around in wet, icy soup for a couple of days and become a saturated inedible mess. The smaller ARB coolers will hold more food than a regular larger ice cooler because they're not packed with ice! Depending on the cooler's size, they have from a 0.7 to 4.7 amp draw per hour. The fridges have a built-in 12-, 24-, 120-, and 240-volt facility, making them ideal for use as a second fridge in emergencies. It also comes with a vehicle power adapter and a household plug-in adapter.
Innovate Motorsports has just released its new DAD-1 Digital Inclinometer, which reads the vehicles pitch and roll in an X (pitch) and Y (roll) axis. Not only is this the perfect safety device for you and your passengers in locals like Moab, the digital device is extremely easy to install. The Rad-1 provides an audio alert when your vehicle is approaching a maximum angle you have programmed into the device's memory.
Innovate! Technology INC.
Gennie offers a full line of hot rod (or custom rock buggy) parts like shift levers, dip sticks, e-brake handles, and throttle and brake pedals along with the accessories like cables to make them work. But we stopped at the Web site when we came across the cool shift knobs. We felt you might dig this crazy-looking shifter knob known as Clitus (lower right) that we attached to the top of our NV4500. Clitus is the skull of a rough-looking redneck and he's grinning like a maniac, similar to what we do when we're slamming gears over rocky roads or muddy holes.
The FJ Cruiser by Toyota is a great off-road platform. But rearward visibility is worse than a blind man with whiplash. Rostra offers its RearSight backup camera that has a small bumper-mounted lens with a mirror-mounted monitor to let you know just what's hiding behind you. We took our big green FJ over to a local Al and Ed's Autosound and had the camera installed in just over an hour. The monitor is 31/2 inches square and the camera offers 150 degrees of visibility to ensure that you won't back over the kid's bike or the Lamborghini.
Al And Ed's Autosound
Rostra Precision Controls
The ACI Advanced battery charger is just what we need for those cherished but seldom driven 4x4s. These chargers are unique in that they can bring a dead battery back to life with a constant current charge. All batteries eventually die, but the ACI charger will awaken anything that can possibly be brought back. The ACI charger will then maintain the charge after it has been reached without overcharging the battery. It can be left on endlessly to maintain that charge and have your sunny-day (or muddy-day) ride ready to go at a second's notice.
Aci Advanced Battery Chargers
Our Jeep JK Wrangler is a unique rig since we stuffed that Cummins Engine under the hood (see the Aug. through Dec. '07 issues), but we were getting tired of lifting the hood so much to show it off. Luckily, Hood Lift recently introduced an air strut system that quickly raises the hood when you release the latches. We'd never admit to getting lazy, but this sure is a more efficient way to pop the bonnet, especially since our Jeep is sitting on 42-inch BFGs. The Hood Lift is a simple upgrade and requires just some wrenches and a drill to install.
We recently coated our firewall with the spray-on ceramic insulation from Lizard Skin. This water-soluble coating is applied with a spray gun and quickly dries to a dark gray/black finish that then acts as both heat- and noise-insulation. Then we used this reflective adhesive-backed heatshield mat from HeatShield products. HeatShield is known for its exhaust wraps and turbo covers, but this product is easily cut to fit the contours of our firewall and can be used on either the engine or interior side to help reduce unwanted thermal issues.
When it comes to gearing, the more choices the better. Take automatics, for example. The old TH350 was great but with the crazy fuel prices of today you might as well step up to the electronic 4L60E Automatic that has an overdrive. Advance Adapters now offers an adapter assembly that is designed for use with the '97-and-later GM 4L60E to Atlas four-speed transfer case. In addition, this adapter can be used with the Jeep New Process 231, 242, 247, 249, and 2410 Rock-Track transfer cases.
The Toyota Tundra is a powerhouse in the 1/2-ton truck class, but everything can use a little improvement. JBA Performance Exhaust has a new set of smog-legal shorty headers for the '07-'08 Toyota Tundra. JBA claims gains of 20 rear-wheel horsepower and 20 lb-ft of torque.
JBA Performance Exhaust
Now available for the new four-door Wrangler is Bestop's Trail Cover. Since we heavily modified our four-door to the point where no standard soft top would fit, we opted for the trail top for protection of all our camera and camping gear when we're out on the trail. Luckily this top offers full interior protection and the instructions state it's a 15-minute job with a level 1 (easy) skill level required of the installer. The top is made of a weatherproof material and comes with its own stuff sack to safely store it in when back on the trail or street.
A quick and easy air horn kit from Stylin Trucks in the Challenger Horn unit will get the attention of the most clueless moron on the street. The kit includes a 12-volt compressor that feeds a 21/2L tank for adequate pressure. The compressor draws 10 amps and is balanced to reduce underhood noise and vibration while filling the tank. The horns are all metal, chrome-plated, and come with a gasket so you can mount them up on the roof of your ride, but we chose the more subtle underhood location. When the tank is filled with 90 to 100 psi, the horn gives off a blaring 125 decibels and should be just what you need to awaken any snoozing drivers around you.