The adage goes that if you fail to prepare then you should prepare to fail. It’s a saying that rings true when planning every new build, whether it’s an all-powerful overland rig or a daily driver you want to stand out from the crowd on the daily commute.
Planning and research are two sides of the same coin here, so the first thing to do is start reading up on the latest developments in 4X4 technology.
Few of us are suspension experts or automotive designers but even for those of us that might not know a torsion bar for a coil spring, the right information and a little help can go a long way.
Building a new rig can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience, but it’s also a lot of work. But if you’re ready to make your 4X4 dreams a reality then you’ll always want to consider the following three things.
What you want to achieve
What are you looking to get out of your 4×4? Do you want a vehicle with gigantic wheels and lots of intimidating flashing lights? Or are you looking for something more subtle? Are you looking for a smooth ride over raw power and are you more interested in how it handles on-road or off-road? Are you going for a mild, moderate or extreme build?
Then there’s the aesthetic value to consider because you might want something that’s quite aggressive looking or you might prefer something a little ‘prettier’. Either way, you really need to know what you want before you start spending money.
What your 4×4 will be used for
This is the major one really, as half the time, 4×4 builds are often a case of upgrading a family car. If this is the case then you’ll require a completely different setup to the driver who’s looking at building the ultimate off-road knock around for serious overlanding. You’ll also need to consider the specific terrain you’ll be tackling too.
For example, if you are looking at putting together a vehicle to take you across the desert then you’ll probably need different tyres and a different suspension setup than if you were planning on hitting arctic roads or neglected farm paths.
There are dozens of considerations to make here. If you’re going to be driving through lots of dust and debris, for example, you might also need to consider an engine snorkel and if you’re going to be taking the family on lots of camping holidays you’ll need a decent roof rack.
Where you need to start
There is a simple principle to follow here – always start with the parts that are going to add the most weight, particularly the front-end weight like winches and bumpers.
Then, make your suspension selection around the amount of weight you’ll be carrying, adding the wheels and tyres last, as while these are far from the least important part of the build, they are the most flexible.
All other upgrades, like wheel arch kits or snorkels, for example, can always be added at a later time with minor inconvenience.
Ultimately, a 4×4 build is never truly going to be complete – it’s a hobby that will continue nagging away at you and your rig will never be quite good enough. But that’s why we love it right?