Ever since we were little kids, we’ve been tempted with the possibility of stumbling upon a brilliantly-embellished jug that, when rubbed properly, would yield a beautiful, scantily-clad genie who would grant you three wishes. In all fairness, some of the genies are heavyset and male but my preference prevails in this story. While the possibility of such a wish-granting enchantress actually existing in our world is pretty darn low, what kind of person, when given such an opportunity, would then rattle-off a checklist of Jeep parts without ever addressing the bigger issues like world hunger and global peace? I beg of you…please don’t answer that.
I was recently talking with a magazine editor who was compiling a comprehensive ‘Top 10’ list of upgrades for Jeep owners. My responses to his inquiry seemed more and more difficult to assemble the more I thought about the question. Obviously, the chosen ten could vary greatly depending on the particular owner, the current status of the Jeep and would then need to be tailored to what it is they want to do with the Jeep. So what if the chosen Jeep was a bone-stock model and you needed the mod to fit the bill no matter who owned it or what path they have in mind for the Jeep in the end? What single upgrade or mod would you whole-heartedly recommend?
The easy answer for any Jeep owner to do as their first upgrade, in my opinion, would be wheels & tires. With such an incredible number of wheel styles available from the aftermarket, it’s the easiest way to make your Jeep distinctly your very own. A wisely-chosen wheel package can entirely change the look of a Jeep in one simple step. Unfortunately, it’s also the “gateway” mod to a never-ending list of other modifications. If you get larger wheels and tires, the need for a lift kit will make itself known almost immediately. And once lifted and decked out in new massive rubber, the drivability of the rig will leave you wanting for a re-gearing to recapture some of the prior performance or economy. Be warned that the pursuit for perfection never ends but the quest is massive amounts of fun.
Even if the existing tires on the Jeep are in relatively good condition, replacing them with something more suited to your taste and personal preference is a pretty safe bet. You can even offset the cost of the new wheels and tires by liquidating the old set on Craigslist or through any number of online Jeep forums. There is quite a rabid market for reasonably priced factory wheels and usable tires. Besides, I think it was Ben Franklin who once said “It’s always better to have a few bucks in the billfold than a hi-rise spider hotel in your garage.” On second thought, it could have been Paul Revere.
What could you choose as a second wish that would be an upgrade to satisfy any Jeeper no matter the Jeep? I don’t think you can go wrong with a quality set of floor liners. Often the factory floor liners are made from auto grade carpet and just aren’t up to the conditions that a Jeep is prone to endure. Carpet needs to be protected from snow, mush and muck. Being able to climb into my Jeep with mud-caked boots with no real regard for the well-being of my floorboards is very liberating. Sure, you can get some universal vinyl mats from the corner auto parts store but the fit is going to be less than perfect, not to mention less than durable. Face it, your Jeep is worthy of so much more.
Assuming that world peace & hunger have already been tabled for the purposes of this article, we are left with a single upgrade for which to beg our genies consideration. My answer to this final quandary will allow for a measured dose of personal inclination. Based on what you most want from your Jeep, choose an upgrade that takes you the farthest towards your goal.
Maybe the vision of what your Jeep needs to be is clear or maybe not so much. Until you are certain what Jeep you want to build, don’t commit to many mods that determine any given outcome. For example, if you are going to be daily driving the Jeep, you might steer clear of enormous lifts and 40-inch tires. Likewise, if you plan to do some mild trail riding, you might want to invest in some armor to protect your exteriors appearance rather than things to beautify it.
Many Jeep owners have no off-road aspirations whatsoever but still want to have an aggressive, capable- appearing trail beast that will likely never leave pavement. Outfitting any Jeep with narrow width off-road bumpers with recovery points and high-clearance fenders can be all it takes to covert a showroom stocker to a trail-ready rocker, especially when complemented by the larger rolling stock we secured in our first wish. Even if the benefit of the upgrade is purely visual, making your Jeep become the one you see in your dreams is what it’s all about. Getting to that point as efficiently and economically as possible is the goal…especially if you don’t have a genie in a bottle. OlllllllO