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Why Over-Modifying Your Vehicle is a Bad Thing

 photo by Lorado via iStock

With overlanding and off-roading comes modifying your vehicle – modifications are part of the game. Of course, vehicle modifications are there to make your 4WD more capable and your life out in the bush easier. 

Just like anything, going overboard with the modifications is a bad thing and can decrease your vehicle’s abilities. 

In today’s article, we’ll to let you know how excessive modification of your vehicle can decrease its capabilities. 

Modifying Your Vehicle: Weight

Overloaded SUV in the desert

 photo by maxrlx via iStock

Weight is your enemy – even in 4WDs. Imagine going out hiking and carrying a huge backpack that is overloaded with stuff you don’t need. Every part of your body will hate you and those long climbs will suddenly get very slow and tiring. The same is true for your 4WD, excessive weight will put more stress on your suspension components and the engine – especially in off-road situations. 

Increased stress on an engine means it’s going to burn more fuel which you then have to compensate for with a long-range tank; therefore, adding even more weight.

How do you avoid building an excessively heavy 4WD? First of all, you shouldn’t get influenced by what the internet tells you need. This can lead to buying much more stuff than necessary which will cost a lot of money and overload your rig. Go out on a short adventure and start figuring out what you personally need as every person has different habits and requirements. 

Another way you can end up overloading your 4WD is with cheap accessories. Cheap off-road accessories such as bull bars, side protection, wheels and tires are heavier than the more expensive options. I am not suggesting you should go out and buy the most expensive gear but don’t go for the bottom-line products either. 

Think through it well though, you might not even need side protection or a rear bar for the type of overlanding you are planning on doing.   

Weight Distribution Can Be Thrown Off

Man Fixing weight in a roof-top carrier on a modified vehicle

 photo by Alexeg84 via iStock

Rooftop tents and roof racks add weight on the worst possible location – up high. This will hurt the vehicles handling abilities and the wind drag will further increase fuel consumption. 

Therefore, if you don’t need them don’t buy them.

An overloaded rear canopy will put a lot of weight at the back of the vehicle which will again lead to bad road manners and decreased front axle grip on and off-road. 

Always keep additional weight down low and between the two axles of your 4WD.

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Modifying Your Vehicle Can Impact Its Reliability

People fixing an engine in the woods

 photo by fstop123 via iStock

Oversized tires and suspension lifts that exceed the vehicle’s acceptable range will lead to more frequent breakages. On independent suspension vehicles lift kits that exceed 2 inches lead to CV axle breakages. If you combine a 3-inch lift kit with heavy oversized tires, then the likelihood of breaking something is increased drastically. 

Modifications don’t just affect the body and suspension of the car though. Engine tuning can also lead to problems if done incorrectly. Making too much power or improperly tuning your engine can lead to engine failure or overheating. If you have any plans on doing engine tuning, go to a reputable shop that has a vehicle dynamometer available that will enable the tuner to do the job the right way. 

If any remote touring is in your plans go for a less aggressive and more reliable tune. 

The moral of the story is to never go overboard. Go on a few trips and figure out exactly what your vehicle needs. With modifications comes compromise, a lift kit will worsen your vehicle’s on-road handling and bigger tires will decrease fuel economy. The same is true for other modifications. 

Therefore, if you will only be driving down dirt roads, modifying your vehicle with big tires, bar work, and big suspension lifts isn’t necessary. An off-road tire and a suspension upgrade to cope with the additional weight are enough. 

Finally, always remember to have fun – it’s not about who has the most expensive and accessorized vehicle – it’s about who uses it the most.  

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