For anyone who’s ever been on an off-road adventure knows that unpaved and rocky terrain can do a number on your vehicle. Loose debris, rocks, dust, mud, water and sun can damage parts of your vehicle beyond repair, or at the very least make for a couple of unsightly dings and stains that aren’t easy to get rid of. Even though four-wheelers are specifically made for off-road environments, they can still use a little help with protection and this is where off-road aftermarket accessories come into play.
We can begin with the simplest, yet probably most important addition to your vehicle – weather shields, also known as side window deflectors or wind guards. These window shields are probably the best form of protection you can add to your vehicle for such a price. They are relatively inexpensive and can be found in most car accessory stores and online retailers.
The window visor attaches to your windows and prevents rain from entering your car. This way, you can ride with your windows open even on a rainy day without the fear of water staining your seats and interior. Their design is aerodynamic, meaning the deflectors won’t create extra drag for your vehicle. This also provides an extra layer of rain deflection due to the air that’s displaced by the deflector.
Another benefit is that deflectors not only protect you against the rain, but the sun as well. Ever leave your car at a hot parking lot and return to what I can only describe as “infernal” seats? A good window visor creates an extra piece of shading that, though not much, can make a difference for the interior.
Car window visors are made from a tough durable acrylic material that offers both resistance from impact and a modern slick look. There are see-through options, though this does negate the sun-blocking ability, which most customers look for.
Most weather shielding kits come complete with a bonnet protector as well. The bonnet protector is placed at the front of your hood, protecting it from dings and scratches from loose debris. It deflects airflow, directs bugs and debris up and over the vehicle, leaving your windshield protected. The bonnet protector is also made from tough, impact-modified acrylic, giving it an easily washable, sleek, aerodynamic appearance.
When it comes to off-road protection, the first thing you need is a quality bull bar or nudge bar. Bull bars are basically huge pieces of metal designed to provide front-end protection.
Nudge bars, on the other hand, are smaller, and they’re mainly installed for aesthetic purposes. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re useless. While they don’t offer as much protection as bull bars, they’re more affordable.
Both bull bars and nudge bars can be made from either steel or aluminium. Both materials have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and are suited for different applications. For example, steel has been the primary material for bull bar manufacturing for quite a while, simply because it requires very little maintenance, is much easier to repair and is typically more affordable. Aluminium, on the other hand, is lighter, which can help your fuel economy, but it’s more expensive to purchase.
When it comes to fragile moving parts, many of them are located around your vehicle’s underbody. Some of these parts include the sump, fuel tank, differentials, gearbox and much more, all of which are vulnerable to damage when you go off-road. Rocks, twigs, and other things found on the off-road can all damage on the underbelly of your 4×4 beast. Such damage can end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacementparts.
Differential Guards and Covers
The differentials on your vehicle have to put up with huge loads, shock and vibrations. However, when you hit a rock hard enough, they can easily get damaged or straight up break. Not only are differentials costly to replace, but they can’t be fixed in the middle of nowhere, unless you’re an experienced mechanic who owns all the necessary tools. This is where differential covers and guards come into play. These aftermarket accessories are available in two basic variants: covers, and bolt-on guards. Both provide a similar amount of protection, so which one you end up choosing is entirely up to you.
Rock Sliders and Side Steps
Rock sliders and side steps are simple add-ons designed to protect the sides of your vehicle. They’re an essential 4×4 modification for people regularly venturing off the beaten track. But not only do these accessories protect your vehicle, they also make going in and out of it much easier, as they act as an extra step. On the other hand, rock sliders provide protection for 4x4s that partake in rock crawling and are frequently bashed against gravel and rocks.
Sump guards play a major role when it comes to underbelly protection. These multi-functional accessories don’t run the whole length of the engine, but instead, they focus on the most sensitive parts towards the front of your vehicle, including the parts of your cooling system and steering components. These are all parts that can be protected by investing in a good quality sump guard. But not only do they protect your vehicle’s underside, they can also add to your vehicle’s look.
Fuel Tank Skids
If you somehow end up damaging your fuel tank mid-trip, you won’t get very far. Your vehicle’s fuel tank is quite durable, but rocks and other sharp objects can still damage it. Fuel tank skids are basically an extra protective layer of aluminium or steel placed between your fuel tank and the rough terrain you’re driving over.