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Cheap-Steak - 4xForward

Low-Buck Upgrades If Your Not A Bazillionare

Fred WilliamsPhotographer, Writer

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be a bazillionare? If I had more money than common sense I’d be dragging home cheap old trucks off of Craigslist every other day to my Colorado mountain villa, where my army of Swedish Supermodel Formula-1 mechanics and master fabricators would be on hand to help me get them all up and running so I could go on ridiculous adventures and run gnarly off-road trails. But alas, I have to work just like you. And as such, budget upgrades to our 4x4s can be a priority.

So what’s the cheapest upgrade you can do to your truck to make it work better off-road? Simple. Delete some air from your tires. Let them spread out and get more traction. This will help in just about every terrain. And it will often improve the ride simultaneously. I like to run 12-17 psi when off-road with normal non-beadlock wheels—more or less depending on the weight of the vehicle, the terrain, and tire construction and wheel size.

Plus, you can easily get this type of traction by just unscrewing the valve stem core and letting the tires down till they bulge a bit. Just don’t lose the valve core in the dirt when you unscrew it and the air pressure shoots it out at you. Otherwise you’ll be the little Dutch boy holding a thumb over the escaping air while you flail around trying to find the now unfindable valve core. I am a huge fan of the valve stem caps with the built-in valve core removal tools. They are cheap (20 to 50 cents each) and easy to keep track of if you screw one on every tire. Plus, you can screw them on tight when you lose the valve core and go steal the core from your spare, or one from your tool bag.

Of course, you can always just use a small stick, a pen, or your pocket knife and push down the valve core until the tire deflates to the desired pressure. Even cheaper.

This issue is all about cheap trucks: the ones we built for our latest Cheap Truck Challenge and the ones we remember fondly as our first 4x4s. CTC is one of my favorite events and project builds because so many of you are in the same boat and always looking for low-buck ways to upgrade your 4x4s. It’s fun and challenging to try and scrape together a thrifty 4x4, but I know it can also be stressful. Wouldn’t we all love to have a trust fund that we could tap into for building our dream 4x4? Well, most of us are not that lucky, so we build cheap stuff and cross our fingers that it works. For me that didn’t pan out too well when my little Cheap Truck S-10 had some major front end issues and I ended up with a 4x4 that only had 4x2.

So now what? Simple. I’ll fix it and show you how in an upcoming issue. The same goes for our Ultimate Adventure Tug-Truck. No, it’s not a cheap truck (it’s an over-the-top trail monster), but it also had some issues on our UA trip this past summer, and although I promised an update on it in this issue it’s not quite ready, so stay tuned for a future update on the Tug.

Well, I’m out of space and my Swedish supermodel chef is calling me to come eat a fine steak dinner ,so I better sign off. (And by “Swedish supermodel chef” I mean the microwave just dinged so my reheated pizza must be ready!)

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