Overland builds, Toyota Tacoma mods, and other vehicle alterations can be expensive and overwhelming. The volume of options available is mind-blowing. How do you know where to begin?
Our best advice? Start with the basics.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Before you pull out your credit card and your tools, it’s worth taking a moment to ask yourself these questions:
- What are you planning to do? Mod needs for weekend camping trips are significantly different than those for full-time overlanding.
- What terrain do you anticipate encountering – mud, snow, rivers?
- Will you be flying solo or on a convoy?
- What are your skills? Can you fix a car on the fly?
Before you spend a dime on any bells and whistles, make sure you are clear with yourself about your needs, or you could end up stranded without the right equipment. Or maybe even worse, you could waste money on stuff you don’t need.
Keep it Simple
There’s a direct relationship between the complexity of modifications and mechanical difficulties; the more you modify, the more likely you are to encounter failures. In addition, the more mods you have, the more difficult it is to find dealer support or replacement parts when out on the road. If you’ve added aftermarket crawler gears or installed super-extended suspension, you’re going to need the help of a specialist if something goes wrong.
It’s best to keep things simple, especially at the beginning and especially if you aren’t handy with repairs yourself.
Be Wary of Weight
Weight matters. Heavy loads get poor gas mileage, go slowly, and struggle to manage difficult terrain. Overloading your vehicle also affects the handling and causes undue wear on critical components.
Not only do you want to keep the weight down, but you also want to keep it balanced. Too much weight on the roof may result in tipping – too much weight up front causes trouble with braking, and too much weight in the back may cause you to slide sideways and then roll when going downhill. Position weight low to the ground, between the two axles, and evenly along the centerline to optimize performance.
What Mods Make Sense?
With all that in mind, what mods make sense?
- Suspension upgrades.
- Off-road wheels and tires. (Plus an extra tire, not a spare)
- On-board air compressor for changing tire pressures.
- An extra battery. Using your car’s main battery to power all your additional electronics isn’t smart.
- Extra storage. There are endless options for adding storage, including boxes, drawers, roof racks, and everything else you can imagine. While organized storage is great, these options all add extra weight. Start slow and add as necessary as you get more experienced and learn what you need.
- Always carry basic tools to help with basic maintenance and repairs while on the road. If you’re traveling in a convoy, you can split the tools to help manage the weight.
- Add extra security to your gear to make sure nothing wanders away.
Less is More
Beginners tend to overload their vehicles while experts try to reduce their mods. Assess your needs and start slow. Over time, you’ll assemble a kit that’s perfect for your adventures.