For true devotees of driving, no car is a finished product as it rolls off the assembly line. A factory-standard model is a canvas to add tweaks, personalizations, and all-around improvements. In the tight-knit and passionate Jeep community, there’s a real zeal for putting one’s own touch on a Jeep. While “Jeep” may come from “General Purpose,” every driver has some specific off-road purposes in mind for which they can tailor their ride. Modifications are a fun and creative aspect of Jeep ownership, but before you get started, learn what not to do. Here’s what to know before modifying your Jeep.
Don’t Break the dB Record
Sound systems are an easy mod to make, and one that can represent a big improvement from factory stock. Many Jeep drivers don’t just want to get off the grid, they want to kick out the jams while they do it. Unfortunately, noise ordinances are on the books throughout municipalities, and blasting your tunes may catch some unwanted attention—or even a citation. Upgrade your Jeep’s audio, but be careful about how far you turn that volume knob.
Beware the Death Wobble
The Jeep’s suspension is probably the most common object of modifications. Lifting a Jeep can give it as many as eight additional inches of ground clearance. Combine that with an inch or two from bigger tires, and off-roaders can clear almost an extra foot of obstacles and rough terrain that an unmodded Jeep. Speaking of handling, though, tweaking the suspension can cause some serious problems behind the wheel. A poorly modified suspension often leads to the dreaded “death wobble,” a defect of the Jeep in which the steering wheel and the entire vehicle shake uncontrollably from side to side. If you’re going to mess around with the suspension, have it done right or don’t do it at all.
Keep It Street Legal
Even if you stick to a sedan for 9-to-5 life and only break out the Jeep for outdoor activities, you still need to get where you’re going on public highways. As part of what to know before modifying your Jeep, be sure that everything you add and subtract is within the parameters for a car or light truck. For example, don’t install a windshield that’s too tinted, tires that significantly widen your Jeep, or more lights than a Christmas tree. Remember, too, that different states have different standards, and your cross-country trip could run afoul of a cop who doesn’t care for ostentatious out-of-towners. Other than that, mod away.