Jeeps are more popular than ever, and Jeep owners love to personalize them. There are a lot of Jeep Wrangler owners due to both the overall style, functionality, and off-road dependability. Choosing the right upgrades to match your off-road expectations can prove to be a challenge based on the hundreds, if not thousands, of options from so many different brands. Upgrades can be functional or just aesthetic. We will cover some of the most popular Jeep Wrangler upgrades for both the outside and inside of your Jeep.
Exterior customizations of Jeeps are a great place to start. They can be functional and help your ride stand out right away.
Depending on where your Jeep will spend most of its miles, Jeep tires are a fantastic and popular upgrade for your Jeep. The largest tire a stock Jeep can take is 33”, but adding a lift to your Jeep will increase the size tire it can take. We have several articles that go into great depth on tires, so be sure to check out that information. Another thing to consider is the terrain you will encounter when you leave pavement. Tires are specific to terrain, with different tread and construction for all-terrain tires, mud-terrain tires, winter tires, sand tires, or rock tires.
Custom wheels are the most popular upgrade for a Jeep Wrangler. A good combination of tires and rims will enhance the performance and looks of a Jeep right away. Be sure to get the correct bolt pattern for your year of Jeep – Jeep changes bolt patterns. The Jeep website has a fitment calculator that is helpful. Many people ask if they need Beadlock Wheels, and they are a little complex to understand.
A beadlock wheel has a mechanical device (called a beadlock ring) that secures the bead of the tire against the inside of the wheel rim. Regular street tires don’t need this configuration, because the inflated tire pressure is enough to prevent the tire and wheel rim from slipping. In off-road applications, it is common to deflate tires in order to gain traction over rocky terrain. Anything more than minor deflation could cause a regular tire and rim to slip. Outfitting your Jeep with beadlock tires allows for more off-road adventures where decreased tire pressure is a must.
Some of the drawbacks to beadlock wheels is that each wheel is heavier. Beadlocks may not be legal for regular street use. Because the beadlocks are attached using bolts, any bolt failure can risk breaking the beadlock ring, which in essence results in blow out. There are DOT- approved beadlock wheels and using these will prevent this liability. Beadlock wheels are more expensive to purchase and install. Finally, most tire shops do not mount beadlock wheels due to the liability associated with them, so if you want beadlock wheels for your Jeep makeover, plan on installing them yourself.
Fender Flares have both an aesthetic and utilitarian purpose. They look very cool, but their main purpose is to protect your jeep from rocks, abrasion, and debris during off-road adventures. Flares can finish off the look of a jeep that has been cut to fit larger tires. If your Jeep has tires that stick out past the body, flares or mud flaps are required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency.
After market fender flares come in a wide variety of materials and styles. Be sure your choice will cover the tire so your Jeep is street-legal.
The options and selection of after market Jeep Wrangler off-road lighting is vast! From spot lights to light bars, there is every conceivable variation available. If you are looking for lights that will actually be used, be sure you have all of the “lighting zones” covered. Most people have heard of fog lights and spot lights, but for Jeep owners, rock lights, cargo lights, LED reverse lights, and underbody lights are very popular. It doesn’t necessarily take a large number of lights to add a great look or functionality to your Jeep either. LED lights add a great deal of illumination with a small light. The size, shape, and other features of the lamp determines where and how a light should be used on your jeep. Another consideration for your aftermarket Jeep lights is their ability to perform in different environments. If you will be in a lot of water, you need a waterproof light. The same scenario applies for lighting that will be in extremely dusty conditions (like Baja racing, or desert environments).
Due to the wide variety of options in Jeep bumpers, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Jeeps come with a front factory bumper that is an aluminum plate over factory rails, with plastic end caps, weighting about 27 lbs. The factory rear bumper is plastic with metal mounting plates and weighs about 15 lbs. These factory bumpers offer very little protection and no strength to mount other accessories. Depending on the fuel economy and use, consider if you need a lighter (aluminum) bumper, or heavier weight for mounting.
Jeep bumpers typically fall into two categories: winching and non-winching. Mounting the bumpers is critical because it will affect your “off-road angles”. The off-road angles are 1. Approach 2. Breakover 3. Departure. The approach and departure angles are affected by the bumper style and mounting. The further out the bumper protrudes, the less angle you can handle in off-roading (unless you lift the Jeep).
Rear bumpers affect the departure angle and also come with many options. Features include spare tire racks, D-ring hooks, and hitch receivers.
Grill inserts for the front grill of Jeeps are very popular and come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Budget friendly, they are easy to install and give your Jeep an immediate custom look. Jeep Wranglers come with a factory grill that has 7 slots. Some people think the 7-slot grill signifies Jeep as being the first vehicle driven on all 7 continents. After market grills come in many slot formations.
A fun aspect of Jeep Wrangles is that the top of the vehicle can be changed out. All Jeep Wranglers have removable tops. Options for Jeep tops include hard top, soft top, and bikini top. Jeep hard tops are durable, provide excellent insulation, and come in 1-piece or 2-piece versions. It takes at least 2 people to move a hard top, so keep that in mind if you plan to change tops often. Jeep soft tops are made of tough materials and come with options such as sunroofs, storage pockets, and interchangeable materials. They can be installed or uninstalled by one person, and are lightweight for storage. Soft tops can distort in extreme temperatures and over time because they are just not as durable as a hard top. It is important to scrutinize how each soft top attaches to the Jeep frame to ensure all the critical attachment points line up properly. Bikini tops just cover the top of the Jeep, leaving the sides and back open. It is a fun option for a day at the beach or summer driving, but offers no protection for any serious off-roading.
Skid Plates for Jeeps are thick, sturdy metal pieces that bold (or weld) onto the underside of the Jeep to protect the drive train, shock mount, gas tank, oil pan, or other critical components of the vehicle. While you can’t enjoy the look of skid plates, they are vital equipment for any Jeep that is going to be off-roading. Factory Jeeps come with skid plates that protect most of the Jeep parts for mild off-road adventures. These skid plates are engineered to decrease heat building up and are generally lighter weight than after market skid plates. They don’t protect the oil pan well and prevent you from fully enjoying the Jeep in off road adventures because the protection is limited. Aftermarket skid plates come in aluminum, steel, and a combination of the two. An installer like FlexBilt Customs can help you choose what is right for your specific Jeep and budget.
A winch mounted on the front of your Jeep is very useful for off-road adventures. The primary use is to pull yourself out of a jam, or help pull a friend out of a tight spot. Winches come in electric and hydraulic. Different capacity winches are available and is referenced as the “rated line pull”. It is generally recommended to add 30% to the working GVW. (for a Jeep with GVW of 6,700, you would want a winch with 8,000 lb of working load capacity). Winches come with different lengths of line. These different lengths have positive and negative aspects, but a good compromise for most applications is 100 feet on the drum and a 50 foot extension packed with your off-road tools. Winch ropes come in wire and synthetic rope, each having positives and negatives. All of these factors, plus many more, determine if your selected winch will perform best when you need it most. If your Jeep has a winch already, thoroughly understand its capabilities before you are in a situation your winch isn’t suited to handle.
Jeeps are fun, practical, and hard-working off-road vehicles. The options to upgrade and customize Jeeps are endless. When you are considering any of these upgrades for your Jeep, thoroughly research the options, positives and negatives associated with each of these systems. All of these components can be added, subtracted, and substituted based on your particular needs. Fortunately for Jeep owners, there are more options available than ever before! FlexBilt Customs can help you understand your choices and put together a comprehensive plan for modifying your Jeep!