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  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

Using Common Hardware Store Parts To Make Your 4x4 Better

Posted in Product Reviews on March 4, 2015
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Not everyone is lucky enough to have a 4-wheel-drive shop close to home, but nearly every town has a hardware store or farm supply store.There are plenty of products on the shelves of your local Ace Hardware or True Value that you, with a little innovation, can reappropriate for your wheeling rig. We aren’t going to bother with the obvious things like nuts and bolts or spray paint. Snore. Boring. These are creative ways to apply commonly available items to your rig in ways other than which they were originally intended. Got a good idea for us? Send it to

Need to relocate your intake or build a custom snorkel? ABS pipe is inexpensive and comes in a variety of sizes, and bends to fit nearly any application.

Rebar can be welded to the edge of steel rims to reinforce the bead area and keep them from bending. Just please don’t use rebar for your steering or suspension components!

Chain can be used as limiting straps to keep your coils from falling out or your driveline or brake lines from over extending. You wouldn’t want to use chain on a desert racer that sees air time, but for slow crawling they work just fine.

Nate Schuit’s buggy has all sorts of cool tricks. He runs small stick-on LED lights he got at the hardware store as dome lights. They are battery powered and draw very little amperage, so the batteries last over a year before they have to be replaced.

There are a lot of ways to get creative in the plumbing department, like this ball valve plumbed into the fuel system on this flatfender. It is easily within reach of both the driver and the passenger should the vehicle ever rollover and be spilling fuel.

Another tip from Nate Schuit is this clear vinyl that he added snaps to in order to make a windshield for his buggy. The vinyl is inexpensive enough that when it gets scratched he just replaces it, but Schuit reports that the windshield really cuts down on the cold during those chilly morning driving to the trailhead.

Expanded metal has all sorts of uses, from see-through floorboards to roof racks. Just make certain to capture the edges of the metal or it can act as a giant saw, cutting through whatever it encounters.

Under all that mud is a piece of Lexan that is doing its job as a mud flap. Lexan is hard to break and can be used for floorboards in trucks and body panels on buggies.

Pipe insulation can be used on roll bars as padding, but in our experience it is not dense enough to stop you from smacking your noggin. It is better than nothing, but doubling up or getting the densest insulation you can find is helpful.

Can’t afford beadlocks? Just use Liquid Nails to glue your tires to aluminum rims. Tire shops won’t want anything to do with dismounting your treads, but that is the tradeoff for being able to wheel at single-digit pressures. If you have steel rims you can even add self-tapping screws through the edge of the rim and the tire bead to lock them together.

Expansion plugs come in a variety of sizes and can be used to plug differentials, gear boxes, freeze plugs, and more as a trail repair. They are inexpensive and don’t take up much room in your toolbox.

Want to cut down on noise and vibration inside your vehicle? Roofing paper or roofing tar can be used as a poor man’s bedliner. Don’t use this stuff on your mom’s Grand Cherokee though because it smells awful after it is applied, but the smell eventually goes away.

Screen doors are a great source of material to make a custom grille for your vehicle if you narrow the front fenders and hood or are starting completely from scratch. The material can be used to protect the radiator from rocks and other small debris as well.

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