Accessories: what you want to need
4×4 Accessories: what you want to need
When acquiring a new SUV or 4×4, ostensibly you are not just buying a new car but investing an entirely new lifestyle which promises weekends away on 4×4 trails, fishing trips, diving excursions and the like.
Fact: a significant percentage of accessories fitted to a vehicle will only be used once a year, and in some cases never. Garages around the country are littered with camping equipment that was only used once and only collects dust until the next spring clean takes place. Driving to work one sees all many vehicles fitted with the latest roof racks, snorkels, jerry cans, gas bottles, hi-lift jacks, long range fuel and water tanks, spades and whatnot, and you wonder just how many of them would actually experience anything other than the urban jungle – though you have to it admit it does look impressive…
This begs question: what accessories are a must to have? What you want and what you need are two very different things. Do you just want your vehicle to look macho? In my opinion a dual battery system is a good place to start as one always needs an additional power supply given the additional essential things we need to charge in the car on a daily basis, like cellphones, computers, GPD systems and the like. If a battery dies on you it certainly is no fun trying to push-start a 4×4, and in the case of one with an automatic gearbox impossible. Thereafter your purchase decision should be guided by what you really intend using your vehicle for on leisure activities. A large percentage of people have state of the art roof racks fitted. They should considering that in most instances shopping parking areas and even your garage are governed by a height restriction of 2,1m and therefore it restricts your movement quite significantly. If you forget it could also disastrous consequences, for your car and the expensive kit on top of the roof. I am not opposed to a roof rack, but remember that a roof rack with additional weight significantly changes the handling capability of your vehicle both on and off the road. Rule number one is to only pack light items on the roof, like a roof tent.
To protect your new toy a good investment is fitting seat and boot protectors as they go a long way toward ensuring the leather seats boot mat remain clean and free from scuff marks. It helps to retain the value of the vehicle should you eventually decide to sell or trade it in on a newer model. Although quite pricey, another purchase could be a good fridge-freezer. Most are 220V and ACDC compatible, and perfect to use at home on the patio when not being used on a trip. Something I found very handy is a recovery/winch kit which generally consists of a 5m kinetic recovery strap, 3m non-kinetic towing strap, gloves and two D-shackles supplemented with a tyre repair and inflator kit and jumper cables packed in a handy bag for easy storage. A good quality tyre inflator is excellent to have and is generally powered from the cigarette lighter.
Now come the nice to haves. Remember that when touring less is more as often we take things that hardly get used and always look for products that have more than one use.
Strangely enough high-lift jacks are in most instances thought to be a must-have, but most vehicles do not have adequate jacking points. I tend to prefer an air jack which is far safer and easier to operate. The air jack is a sturdy bag that when placed under the vehicle has a hose that attaches to the exhaust pipe. While the vehicle idles it inflates and raises the vehicle. It is particularly practical on sand and in mud to assist with a recovery. There seems to be quite a demand for replacing the existing flat-angle aluminium running or stepping boards with a sturdier round-shaped “slider” which is manufactured from steel tubing and will protect the vehicle sill, especially with extensive off-road use. Fully integrated bull bars with a winch housing also seems a very popular purchase because it can serve a purpose if a person does a lot of extreme 4×4 driving. It also looks the part, adding that macho image many people want. Important to remember that it should be an airbag-compatible fitment. Check the dimensions of your garage before you have it fitted. A friend had both a bull bar and a tow hitch fitted on his off-roader. When he got home he realised his vehicle was now too long to fit into the garage, so now his prized possession has to sleep outside.
The list of accessories like racking systems that fit into the rear, spot lights, cargo nets, rooftop tents, raised suspension, snorkels and the like just go on and on. My advice is to make the purchase decision with the head and not the heart. Always only fit Toyota Approved accessories as these were specifically designed and manufactured to complement the enjoyment of your new Toyota. Chat with the accessories consultant at your dealership if you need any advice on what to fit.
Before venturing out, ensure that you know how to safely operate winches, air jacks and other mechanical equipment and have someone with you to assist.