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‘Congratulations! You've just taken ownership of a 4WD, and a whole new way of life is about to open before you. No doubt you will have pored over magazine articles, watched a bunch of video clips and researched accessories for your new beast. Now you’re probably wondering just how to go about building a dream rig. The good news is the answer doesn't have to involve getting a bank loan!
While you can (very easily) drop six figures into building up a 4WD, it is not, I repeat, NOT necessary at all. In fact any stock standard, off-the-shelf 4WD will perform admirably and allow you to enjoy the 4WD way of life without spending anything more than fuel, rego and insurance. However, we all know that even just a few basic mods will make the experience more enjoyable.
First up, don't rip yourself off. Get your advice from lots of different sources and they decide for yourself what you really need. The fact of the matter is that only you can be the judge of what you are going to use your new rig for. Maybe it is weekend tough tracks? Perhaps its remote area touring. Or you might just want to idle down to the beach on a Sunday arvo to wet a line. Identifying exactly what you want to use your 4WD for will very quickly determine how to spend your money. Don't waste valuable cash on accessories because they look good; buy what works for you.
Next, understand that tyre pressures are king off-road. Any and every 4WD needs an air compressor to re-inflate deflated tyres after a day on the beach or a month in the Simpson Desert. Spend wisely here and you will not need another for many years to come and both your tyres and the tracks will thank you.
Think second-hand. The 4WD world is just like any other, people buy something then it sits unused for a year before they sell it because they need cash. Check online and local papers for quality used 4WD accessories, you'd be amazed how much you can pick up second or third hand.
Likewise, specialty 4WD wreckers can be a gold mine. Many of these allow you to wander around, window shopping for random parts on a myriad of busted vehicles. I once picked up a bull-bar and winch off a rolled Patrol for an absolute steal. The vehicle itself was a write-off but the bar and winch were untouched!
Now, I’ve got the mechanical aptitude of a ring-tailed lemur but even I do most of the work and installs on my 4WD myself. If I can, you sure as heck can. No I am not suggesting you build yourself a bull-bar but I am suggesting that just about anyone can install a set of spotlights (that you bought second hand) saving yourself hundreds in auto sparky fees. The same goes with many additions to your 4WD as well as basic servicing. Learn to have a crack yourself and pocket the savings.
So what exactly should you be looking to add to your blank canvas 4WD? Well here is what I would do first up to just about any 4WD regardless of intended end use:
The 4WD world can be as expensive as you want it to be, however, by thinking smart you can see just as many places as any six figure rig (and buy a heck of a lot of fuel with the money you save)! Bridgestone Duelers are tough enough to bring you back! Take a look at the Dueler range here.
What’s on your 4WD starter list? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Bridgestone Australia’s Facebook.
As a presenter and photojournalist, Graham Cahill is regarded as one of the luckiest men in Australia. Currently part of the 4WD Action Magazine team, Graham is known for his outrageous personality and passion for the bush.