The aftermarket world is full of glittering parts that promise to make your truck look better and run smoother, some even touting greater masculinity or femininity depending on your gender. While it’s true some performance gains can be found with freer-flowing exhausts or cold-air intakes (debatable), there’s no questioning the profound visual effects some aftermarket parts will make — parts that don’t require a whole paycheque or extensive skills to install. Here’s a look at some simple ways to “mod” your truck without making it look silly.
Rims and tires
Easily the quickest way to transform your truck, a set of rims with beefy tires instantly turns the ho hum into the holy cow. Don’t go too big on the rims if you venture off-road where 17-inch wheels are best, or go beyond 20 inches for the bling because those big wheels will cost big money to wrap with big rubber. They’ll also be heavier, too, and prone to going out of round if you venture on rough roads. OEM tires are, for the most part, installed with maximum fuel efficiency in mind, so just selecting a tire with a more aggressive tread pattern will greatly enhance the look even if it slightly compromises fuel economy. Tire and rim selection can be tricky, however, so make sure the size you choose — and the rim’s offset — won’t lead to tires rubbing on the body.
Adding height without spending thousands of dollars per inch is high on the truck owner’s list, and no one wants to void the manufacturer’s warranty in doing so. Levelling kits, which can add anywhere from one to three inches in height, usually fit on top of the truck’s coil spring strut assembly and will mostly correct the factory-designed rake, where the rear sits higher than the front. Kits range from $50 to $500, but the added height means a larger tire can be added without tire-rubbing issues. Suspension lifts or body lifts take things up another notch, and can cost more than $500 just for the parts. Installation costs vary but can easily put the price over $1,000. Usually, if you get the parts installed by a dealer, the truck’s warranty will remain intact.
Lot of trucks are fitted at the factory with LED or HID lamps. If yours isn’t, don’t automatically think a set of cheaper LED bulbs will give you the same effect. Often the light output of aftermarket LED bulbs in reflector or projector housings doesn’t match the lumen output of plain old halogen bulbs. Sure, they’ll look whiter and brighter when you stare into them, but the quantity of light output on the road will be less than stock, and often you’ll just create more glare for oncoming drivers, especially when the bulbs have a temperature rating above 5,000K. Instead, spend about $1,000 for a true HID conversion in which a lighting shop will remove your existing headlamps, modify them into proper projector HIDs and reinstall. You get more light, better cut off, and won’t blind others the way you will with blingy, two-bit LED bulbs.