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What to consider when wanting to give your 4×4 an overland makeover

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VIEWS

Vehicle modifications and overland builds are quite breaking to the bank, but for many 4×4 fanatics when attending shows where kits are displayed, gear and more, you cannot help but picture your off-road beast accessorized in them!

  • ARB bumpers/Bull Bar
  • Modifying your vehicle
  • Raised air intake
  • Suspension upgrade
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Onboard air compressor
  • Spare wheel
  • Extended fuel tank
  • Factory fit vs Retro fit
  • Overlanding roof racks

You might be wondering how you could transform your 4×4 into more of an overland vehicle, but you do not know where to begin? We’ve got you covered!

First things first, add an ARB bumper/Bull Bar onto that bad boy

ARB front bumpers and bull bars are vital for rural and remote area travelling and provides improved protection for vulnerable mechanical parts if you should hit an animal for example, from bull bars and Sahara bars to side, rear and underbody protection. ARB bumpers also provide a base to mount other accessories such as driving lights, winches and more. Each ARB bumper is designed to complement the unique contour of individual vehicle models.

What to consider before modifying your vehicle

Before you begin your overland build, you need to consider what you will be using the vehicle for: Is it for fun? 4×4 trails on the weekend? Camping trips? You could even be planning to become a full time overlander, but whatever the plan may be, do you know what the driving conditions are like out there? Will you drive on black top roads all the way? Will you want or need to take your vehicle off road? In sand or snow? Mud or rivers?

Do you have the necessary skills to fix your own vehicle if something should go wrong and are spare parts available on your road trip? Do you really need a 4×4 or could a 2WD meet all your needs? All these questions play a massive part in your decisions about modifying your overland vehicle. It is important to ask yourself these questions to avoid being dissatisfied, waste your money or not spend it on the right vehicle for your build.

Maybe it needs a snorkel (raised air intake)

A snorkel is not the correct term for this accessory, it is in fact called a raised air intake. The main function of a air intake is not to drive through deep water, in fact, driving through deep water, with or without a raised air intake is not advisable.

An air intakes main purpose it so minimise any dust getting sucked into your engine. Usually standard air intake filters are fitted near the front wheel arches, the prime position for inhaling tons of dust and dirt while being off-road or travelling on dry tracks. Most air intakes are fitted with its ram scoop facing forward. If you know you will be driving in dusty conditions, be sure to turn the scoop to face the back of the vehicle as it will prevent dust and dirt from going inside.

An upgrade to your suspension is quite necessary 

Because an overland vehicle is heavier, it is sensible to fit heavy duty springs and shocks. It is always best to use the manufacturers own heavy duty springs and damper set ups. a heavy-duty suspension may provide lift, but it won’t change the ground clearance of your vehicle. Extending brake pipes, breather pipes, drive shafts and so on would also need to be done.

What wheels and tyres should be considered

When it comes to 4×4 off-roading, fitting the correct rim/tyres and suspension makes a big difference between successfully completing your overland adventure, or experiencing the unexpected, such as a badly damaged rim while tackling an obstacle, or tyres peeling off their rims due to driving through thick sand with reduced tyre inflation. Click, here for more information.

An onboard air compressor might be helpful

When you are tackling off-road terrains, you might need to change tyre air pressure often. In some cases, within a few metres of each other. An air compressor comes in handy for quickly inflating and deflating tyres. Many 4×4 fanatics are tempted to install an onboard air compressor and compressed air storage tanks. Some vehicles have this standard, however, the experts say it is best to just carry a portable unit because if one of you in the convoy gets stuck, there would not be a need to try and move another vehicle to get the hose closer, you can simply just walk across to avoid getting stuck too.

Don’t forget your spare wheel

In most vehicles, the spare wheel is factory fitted underneath the rear end of the rig, and is easy to access when you are on the tarmac, however, if you are stuck in sand or mud, you will have little to no chance at all of getting that spare wheel. It is best to move your spare wheel to the back door, or tied to the roof. Many overland vehicles carry at least two spare tyres, one with a hub sometimes the other without.

An extended fuel tank would be advisable too

An extended fuel tank could be a great idea as on some long trips, getting fuel can be a challenge. Often, 4×4 fanatics have a desire to retro fit extended range fuels tanks or even duel fuel tanks with switch over valves and gauges. If it isn’t a need, do not do it as it just takes up space and adds extra weight. A few extra jerry cans properly strapped down in the load bay and you would be able to assist other vehicles if travelling in convoy.

Factory fit vs Retro fit

Some overland vehicles, such as Toyota Landcruisers have extended fuel tanks as a factory fit option, but a retro fit needs planning and work. A suitable size tank needs to be sourced. Fuel piping and solenoid valves need to be fitted to prevent cross contamination of dirty fuel.

And if you damage one tank, you want to make sure its isolated from the other so you don’t lose all your fuel. You may even want to fit gauges to keep an eye on fuel levels.

Running empty will most likely need you reprise the fuel system. Of course, you could take the simple solution and fit a simple hose so allowing you to decanter into the main fuel tank.

Overlanding roof racks

Because of its weight, if possible it is best to avoid roof racks, but if you want or are in need of a roof tent, you don’t have a choice. Dp not give into the idea of storing fuel cans up there as it will create a great amount of weight on top of the vehicle and it will become unstable to drive with a higher centre of gravity.

Picture: Unsplash