Wheelers are inherently creative. Maybe it’s something in our DNA that gives us the ability to “think outside the box” and solve problems on-the-fly. Whether it’s a challenging situation on the trail or in the shop, we have a knack for creative problem solving.
With that said, we’ve compiled 101 cheap tips and tricks that have either served us well over the years, been relayed to us by other wheelers, or passed along by off-road shops. Some you may be familiar with and some may be new to you. Either way, we hope you find them helpful.
Hitch Pin Recovery
If your rig is equipped with a hitch, there is no need to buy a receiver shackle for your rear tow point. Instead, a simple hitch pin through the loop of a quality recovery strap is all you need for a successful pull.
Want to monitor rear tire placement on the trail without craning your neck out the window? Simply angle your outside rearview mirrors downward so you can see where your tires are at a glance.
If you tow with your rig, consider a set of rear airbags. They’re far less expensive than swapping in heavier springs and they’re typically easy to install. They won’t increase your rig’s maximum towing capacity, but they will give you the ability to level the rig front-to-rear, increase vehicle stability, reduce suspension fatigue, and reduce bottoming out.
Stubborn Bolt Beater
In a pinch, stubborn bolts may be pressed out with a ball joint press if the bolt head will fit through the hole in the press. Place the forcing screw against the exposed portion of the bolt opposite the head and start turning.
Safe Driveshaft Storage
If you carry a spare driveshaft or axleshaft, buy a length of PVC pipe and a pair of threaded plugs and mount the assembly to the rollcage or floor of your rig. Design it so the axleshaft or driveshaft fits snugly inside the pipe and you’ll have an inexpensive, safe, clean way of carrying your extra ’shaft.
Instead of just fastening your winch cable to a winch point, run the cable through a winch pulley block and attach the cable to your rig. This double-line winch pull is slower, but it doubles the pulling power of your winch.
Instead of packing a slew of wrenches, purchase an all-in-one ratcheting wrench like the Black & Decker ReadyWrench pictured here (www.blackanddecker.com). It includes 16 of the most popular standard and metric socket sizes and in many situations it may be all you need to fix a problem.
It’s a good idea to attach your winch controller to your winch before you are stuck because it can be very hard to find the winch controller plug when the winch is submerged in water or mud.
Improved Departure Angle
If your rig has rear tow points and a rear trailer hitch but you don’t ever use the hitch, remove it. Your rig’s departure angle will probably increase.
One of the most often used tools in our toolbox is a chain wrench. This simple item has loads of adjustability and it fits and does things that no ordinary wrench can do. For example, with one of these you won’t need different sizes of filter wrenches because of the chain wrenches adjustability and it gets a strong grip on the filter.
AGM or gel batteries have very little internal resistance and can be susceptible to being run down by small draws if not operated regularly. If you don’t plan on driving your rig for a few months, disconnect the battery and keep it on a maintenance charger to ensure it is operating at peak performance when you are ready to take the rig out again.
Broken Valve Stem
If you’ve torn a valve stem and need to replace it immediately, you can unseat the tire bead with a Hi-Lift jack by placing the jack base on the tire near the bead and the jack under the truck. The weight of the truck can break the bead as you raise the jack so you can access the valve stem.