Since the day they were created, Jeeps have always been a fan favorite among car enthusiasts. Over the years there have been many Jeep models, but the focus has always been on the CJ and later Wrangler versions. Even if you prefer speed and performance, there’s no denying the off-road and bad weather capabilities of a Jeep. With an exploding aftermarket segment, sifting through and deciding on the best Jeep accessories to buy can feel like a daunting task.
So whether your goal is to build a killer off-roader or a mall crawler, here’s a quick look at the first five accessories you should consider, to customize your Jeep.
1. Breathe Easy
Even if you don’t plan to take your Jeep off-roading, custom reusable air filters are always a great, inexpensive upgrade that you can do yourself. Aftermarket filters provide a higher level of protection for your engine and also increase fuel economy. Since they’re also reusable, they typically last the life of your rig and, in most cases, just drop into place where your old filter was housed. You can also opt for a snorkel air intake to help your engine breath clean air from above the level of ground dust. Or with the right waterproof snorkel you can protect your engine from inhaling water at water crossings. Snorkels are available in different heights, so pick the one that best suits your driving environment needs.
2. Hit the Skids
When it comes to off-roading the underside of your Jeep will endure the brunt of the abuse, especially for those who rock crawl or travel rock strewn trails. Skid plates are considered by many to be the most crucial part to beef up before you hit the trails. They are custom fit to your model year and offer added protection to sensitive areas, such as the oil pan, steering box and fuel tank. It also doesn’t hurt to protect other areas like the differential cover which often gets ground across rocks. Up front a skid plate mounted under the front bumper can protect the lower part of the engine and other sensitive components. Not sure where to put a skid plate? After your next round of wheeling get a good look underneath and see what has fresh scratch marks, that’s where you potentially need extra protection.
3. Which Winch?
No matter your prowess behind the wheel of your Jeep, you’ll get stuck eventually. So it’s always a smart idea to install a winch, just in case. This motorized cable system typically mounts to the front of your Jeep and can provide a variety of recovery, safety and utility uses. It can also give your ride that undeniable “go anywhere” look many Jeep owners enjoy. When shopping for a winch always go bigger than you think you need. Look for a winch that is rated to pull double what your Jeep weighs. Why so much? If your Jeep is stuck, you are pulling not only the weight of the rig but also whatever got you stuck in the first place. If you plan on putting your winch to work make sure your electrical systems is up to the task. A bigger battery or even a second battery are a wise investment. Pick up a few winch accessories as well. You will want a snatch block for doubling up your pulling might, a tree strap to protect our natural resources, a good shackle, and a pair of gloves. Steel winch cables can do a number on bare hands, so always wear good gloves when handling one.
4. Wall To Wall
Much like changing the air filter, keeping the inside of your vehicle protected spans a broad spectrum of uses for Jeep owners, which makes all-weather mats and liners a top choice for new owners. All-weather floor mats, as well as trunk and floor liners, are made of highly durable vinyl material and are custom fit to your model. These mats are commonplace in areas where winter slush wreaks havoc on factory floor mats and leaves a soggy mess. But they are also great year-round for protecting your interior. Most modern Jeeps have carpeted interiors, so it can be a wise decision to protect those floors with a set of heavy-duty floor mats.
5. Lockdown (beadlock)
If you’re planning on doing some serious off-roading, beadlocks are a necessity. By securing the bead of the tire to the wheel, this style of rim not only gives your Jeep a more aggressive look but also allows you to lower the air pressure in the tires for off-roading without them coming off the rim. In addition, it will keep you on the move even if you get a puncture on the trail due the clamping pressure on the tire bead. Keep in mind that not all beadlock wheels are Department of Transportation (DOT) approved for street use. These wheels are a multi-piece design that require maintenance and special care when mounting. Each beadlock ring bolt must be checked on a regular basis and replaced if damaged. If looks are more important than function, then there are a wide range of beadlock appearance wheels. These wheels use standard wheel design but the “beadlock” on the outer edge is purely aesthetic.
Without a doubt, Jeeps are versatile vehicles that just scream to be upgraded and given their owner’s personal touch. These are just a few of the more common Jeep accessories, there is a whole world of products available to make your rig your own. But before you investigate the feasibility of strapping a 700+hp Hellcat engine into to your rig, you should probably start with some of the more basic, but no less important, upgrades listed above.
Check out all the body & accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the best Jeep accessories, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Image courtesy of Flickr
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.