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3 Common Overlanding Vehicle Upgrades That You DON’T Need

“Snag Camp” by simonov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When you get into overlanding, you understand that there are a lot of upgrades you can make to your vehicle that will make it more capable, more functional, more reliable, and more comfortable for you.

A fridge, for example, is a must-have, particularly for long journeys when there might be days between seeing a grocery store.

But there are other common overlanding vehicle upgrades that aren’t nearly as necessary. Let’s dive into three of them.

Common Overlanding Vehicle Upgrades to Avoid: Wheel Spacers

common overlanding vehicle upgrades wheel spacer

Photo by Vladimir Razguliaev via iStock

Wheel spacers are primarily used to increase the lateral distance between your tires, thereby improving stability, handling, and reducing lateral load transfer.

However, some folks add wheel spacers simply for their rigs to look cooler.

Regardless of your reasoning, wheel spacers can add tons of stress to the wheel bearings. After all, you are increasing the distance between the bearing and the wheel, so more stress will result. There are other problems, too, like increasing the scrub radius and the kingpin offset.

Of course, all of these changes have a negative impact on the performance of the steering and the suspension in the vehicle. More stress results in faster wear, faster wear means parts failures, and failures means the potential of being stuck on the side of the road when help is hours (or longer) away.

Avoid Suspension Lifts (Big Ones, Anyway)

common overlanding vehcile upgrades big lift

“Virginia Range” by simonov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Sure, there are some benefits to having a suspension lift on your vehicle. The extra ground clearance can be beneficial if you’re into something like rock crawling.

But when you’re on an overland adventure, having a low center of gravity is hugely important. Doing so offers the safest handling for a vehicle that’s loaded up with gear and it helps get you the best fuel economy, too.

Besides, putting a huge lift on your rig puts additional strain on driveshaft joints and rod ends. As discussed earlier, adding stress to components on your vehicle will only lead to premature wear.

So, when you’re overlanding, keep the stock height of the suspension intact, or if you must add a lift, keep it minimal. You simply don’t need a monster lift for overlanding!

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Common Overlanding Vehicle Upgrades to Avoid: Giant Tires

avoid big tires

Photo by schlol via iStock

Outfitting your rig with big, beefy tires is one of the most common upgrades for overlanding vehicles.

And while bigger tires can help improve ground clearance, traction, and vehicle aesthetics, they really cause more problems than they’re worth.

Bigger tires put more stress on bearings, the suspension, and steering components. You get worse gas mileage with bigger tires, acceleration suffers, and braking performance is worse.

Additionally, bigger tires are hard to find when one blows out. Sure, you should have a spare, but if you destroy two tires, the chances of you finding a 40-inch replacement is far less than if you keep the smaller factory-size tires on your rig.

A Word of Caution

a word of caution about overlanding vehicle upgrades

Photo by welcomia via iStock

I’m not saying that these modifications are terrible in every single situation. As I noted earlier, sometimes a lift, bigger tires, and wheel spacers can be helpful to your cause.

But by and large, if you’re overlanding, even on rougher tracks, none of these common overlanding vehicle upgrades are going to give you more benefits than detriments. Spend your money elsewhere, and you’ll have a better-outfitted rig for your adventures.

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