1. home
  2. product reviews
  3. Weekend Job - Quick &Easy

Weekend Job - Quick &Easy

A Sunday Afternoon's Worth of 4x4 Upgrades

David KennedyPhotographer, Writer

Here at 4-Wheel & Off-Road we know there are always chores to do around the house, sports to watch on TV, and sometimes even kids to keep an eye on. It can be tough (and a little bit scary) to dive into a huge project that means lots of tools and bumming a ride to work Monday if things don't go as planned, yet you can still add comfort, convenience, and utility to any vehicle with an afternoon's worth of time, a drill, and some handtools-if you choose your project wisely. Now that daylight hours are getting shorter and final summer cookouts are in the works, here are some quick projects you can tackle without taking your daily driver offline.

Tuffy consoles come with a roll of adhesive-backed, neoprene padding, which you'll need to install on the inside lids to seal out dirt and moisture. These strips also function as cushions to eliminate metal-on-metal rattles. When cutting the strips to size you'll want to keep in mind that the material stretches. You may have to trim the excess off to get the desired fit.

Most 4x4s do not have flat floors between the seats, so Tuffy provides a pedestal bracket that accommodates most drivetrain humps. When you position the center console make sure the lid doesn't hit the seats, armrests, or floor shifter in any gear. In this photo you can see a separate lid on the deluxe consoles that allows you to mount a car stereo out of thieves' sight.

Tuffy Security Console
The factory center console in most vehicles is a security joke. We wouldn't leave anything in our stock plastic unit that we didn't want to get stolen. Nope, when it comes to secure interior storage Tuffy Security Products (800/34-TUFFY, www.tuffyproducts.com) is where it's at. These 16-gauge steel lockboxes come in five powdercoated colors and dozens of configurations. For fullsize trucks you'll want the 24x1211/42x1611/44 deluxe stereo console shown here.

A Power Tank should be positioned vertically when in use, so it's best if you can mount it that way too. We tried every place we could and ended up taking the easy way out by mounting our 30-inch-tall PT-15 tank horizontally on top of our battery boxes. Now we'll have to remove it to use it, but that will give us an opportunity to show off the new Durathane Ballistic hose.

Advanced Air Systems Power Tank
We love our Power Tank for its versatility and the extreme air capacity that makes most 12-volt compressors seem slow. We've accepted the fact that it costs about $10-$20 to fill when we need it. Up until now we never knew how much CO2 we had left until it was empty, but Advanced Air Systems (800/641-3206, www.powertank.com) has finally come up with a cheap portable way to know how much air power we have left. This battery-powered digital Super Scale lets you weigh the bottle in the garage or out on the trail so there are no surprises. Our 15-pound tank weighs 22 pounds empty and 37 pounds with a full charge.

Sparco Steering Wheel
Often when you buy a used 4x4 the nastiest part of the vehicle isn't the floor or ashtray-it's the steering wheel! The original wheel on our K5 looked like someone tried to arc-weld on it. We knew we had to get rid of it. Having never pulled a steering wheel off before, we headed down to our local AutoZone, where they loaned us this steering wheel puller. For a $15 deposit you get to take the puller home and keep it for as long as you need. When you return it you get your money back. We made sure to clean it off when we were done in case you borrow it next.

SoffSeal Weatherstrip
Fall is almost here, and if you have a 4x4 with doors, you must also have an expectation of a dry and quiet interior regardless of what Mother Nature is up to. Soft, efficient weatherstripping is essential to keeping environmental nasties out, so when we needed to reseal the doors on our Blazer we went right to the SoffSeal (513/367-0028, www.soffseal.com) catalog.

If you are going to add an aftermarket steering wheel you will need some form of adapter. We got this MOMO unit from Sparco (800/224-RACE, www.sparcousa.com), splined it onto the GM steering shaft, and tightened it down with the original nut. The taped wire connection is for the horn, and the ring connector will provide the horn's ground when we bolt down the new steering wheel.

Stealing a page from the international world of racing, we went with this Flash 5 wheel from Sparco. The leather-wrapped wheel is Ferrari-quality in every way and will make you want to drive with two hands at all times. This wheel bolts to the adapter with six Allen-head screws and even has two buttons that can be used for electrical accessories such as a CB, a winch controller, air locker, or even something as boring as the horn.

SoffSeal offers just about every rubber detail item you could need for your off-road rig or tow vehicle. Replacing the door's weatherstripping as we did eliminated an annoying wind hiss and reduced the rattles. We just removed all the interior trim panels, pulled the old cracked seals from the body pinch seam, pressed the new door gaskets in place, and reinstalled the trim pieces. Simple.

While we were in the doorjambs, we added these new door bumpers too. If the old ones are still even on the truck (ours weren't) you can pull them out with a pair of pliers. Add a little soapy water to lubricate the barbed tip, and use a regular screwdriver to press in the new SoffSeal pieces.