Ned Cakovan runs the Y62 Patrol Owner’s Club of Australia group and has done heaps of trips in his own vehicle, including the Simpson Desert, Tanami, Kimberley, Cape York, The Victorian High Country, and his personal favourite Bayfield National Park. In his eyes, he reckons it’s the best 4x4 on the market.
Having bought his first 4x4 in 2000, you can be assured he knows a thing or two on what it really takes to transform his vehicle or any vehicle for that matter into a super tourer. In this blog, he details his ultimate 4X4 upgrades for anyone new to the 4x4 scene.
An ultimate guide to 4x4 upgrades for a Patrol
Probably the most effective and simple option to upgrade. Most vehicles will come with a very soft compound tyre more suited to the bitumen. Let’s face it, even people that go off-road still do 99% of their driving on the bitumen. Without going into all the different types, you can upgrade a tyre to suit your needs.
I run two sets of wheels and tyres. I run a good AT (all-terrain) for my daily use, beach and general touring.
Yokohama GO 15 AT tyres. I crossed the Simpson, Tanami, Gibb and Kimberley in these. Tyre size 285/70/R18
And a set for my off-road use which are a MT (mud-terrain). This way I get the best of both worlds.
The new Yokohama G003 MT. Very good off-road tyre going up to Cape York. 80/20 (80% off-road 20% road) Tyre size 35x12.5x17
You would have to check each States legislation because, for example, in QLD you can increase tyre OD (overall diameter) by 50mm. This means you can increase your tyre size which will give you a 25mm lift straight away. This assists for better clearance off-road and higher sidewall.
Keep in mind, increasing tyre size will affect your speedo, fuel use and power and handling. How much this actually effects your vehicle will be dependent on the type of tyre, tread and compound of the tyre.
Like tyres, there are so many options available. A standard 50mm lift (2inch is what it’s commonly referred to), is the most common upgrade. This lifts the body higher off the ground and improves your clearance (ramp over, approach and departure angles) as well as improving your ride.
I run an advanced set-up with bypass and remote res shocks which are fully adjustable. I have had other more standard lifts on my vehicle and previous 4x4s.
You need to do your homework with any modification you choose to do, more so with suspension. You need to buy the right shock/spring set up that will suit the driving you plan to do.
There are lots of general upgrades you can get from all the major suppliers like Old Man Emu, Dobinson, Ironman just to name a few. Most brands will have off the shelf suspension kits for your vehicle and will improve the ride, handling and hold the car more level when loading it up with all your travelling gear.
Like tyres, I’ve found manufacturers generally make the suspension soft and comfortable. This is so it makes for a better test drive. And in reality, most 4x4s sold are only ever used to commute to and from work and run the kids around with maybe the odd weekend away.
Most people won’t need to go the lengths I have gone to in order to protect my car from the rigours of off-road travel. I’ve listed these below with a brief description of why I have chosen to do each modification.
- Underbody protection. I think this is essential for anyone who has a 4x4 and wishes to do any off-roading. “Bash Plates” as they are commonly called and aptly named do exactly as their name suggests. These plates take the beating for all of those rocks, ruts and branches that you will come across that try and rip out your sump or damage your diff housings, etc. The bash plate my Patrol came with only protected the front fuel filter and is only 1.5mm thick. I’ve had custom ones made out of 3mm Stainless Steel to protect this and also to cover the exposed sump tank. I’ve seen many a sump tank damaged due to no underbody protection.
- Steps/sliders and rails. Another essential upgrade for any off-road tourer. The standard steps on nearly all 4x4s is generally plastic with steel mountings. This is to make them look better and lighter. But to protect your sills from damage when climbing uneven ground, then you need something a bit more substantial. My steps are custom built for my needs, they have a 3mm plate slid underneath so I don’t have exposed tubes that can catch on any protruding rocks, etc. It’s also slanted at a 10degree angle to help with clearance as well. The rails are there to help prevent any damage to my side panels. These worked a treat on my recent Cape York trip.
As you can see from this photo, the troll gets really close to the side of this washed out creek crossing. It does actually rub up against the rail as I worked my way into it. The rails did their job here and not a mark on my panels. Paint on the rails is easy to fix and a lot cheaper.
- Rear Bar. Although I have yet to find the rear bar I want on my vehicle, they can be very handy for not only protecting the rear end from damage, but also increasing exit clearance angles and help carry some gear like a spare wheel and jerry cans. Again most factory rear bumpers, bars and steps aren’t really that strong, and can fold up and damage a panel when off-roading.
All of these protections can add significant weight to your vehicle and can cost a lot of money. Most popular vehicles can get a range of products readily available from accessory stores.
Well, now you can choose from any number of accessories that can help you on your adventures. From the best babysitters like DVD players to very practical gadgets like Tablets for your maps.
- Maps. Maps like HEMA are essential for remote touring because they often show tracks that aren’t on Google. And they can help save you having to carry around printed maps, and have the added bonus of regular upgrades for these directly onto your app.
HEMA Maps, a must have off-road accessory
- Brake Controllers. I have the Tow Pro Elite electric brake controller installed for towing. It’s an excellent product, easy to install, easy to use and does the job flawlessly.
- Dual Battery Systems. I don’t run a traditional dual battery system, I have the REDARC BCDC1225D in-vehicle DC to DC battery charger. This keeps my portable 2nd battery box charged in the cargo area of my car. The battery box then runs all my appliances in the car like fridge/freezer, pie oven and charges my phones, laptop and other gadgets.
- Solar. I also have the REDARC 115 watt Solar Blanket. I find the blankets a lot easier to travel with then hard solar panels. The REDARC solar panel folds up very neatly into a small bag that is easily stored in the vehicle. I have the regulator and cabling that hooks up to my battery when I am parked somewhere and I can quickly and easily set this up to keep my battery charged. The panel isn’t cheap, but the quality is simply brilliant. It’s robust, easy to clean and very efficient. Just what you need when camping and touring.
The beauty of portable solar is that you can share it around easily enough with the convoy. Everything REDARC makes is top quality from their main products to the cables and accessories.
Most modern 4x4s are very capable straight off the shelf these days. With all the traction control aids, these assist on and off the road to make it safer and easier. Please make sure you check with state and government legislation when it comes to any modifications to your vehicle, they can ultimately effect your insurance and registration.
I hope this review has been helpful and informative and while I have listed only a few of the modifications you can get, there is a heap more available to help your adventures. There is a lot of information available online with lots of experienced people sharing their stories and adventures like the REDARC website.
Feel free to visit the Aussie Patrol Y62 Facebook page, there are heaps of experienced travellers sharing their adventures, mods, and tricks for travelling and off-roading.