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Old 20th May 2024, 13:17   #1
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Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ksingh544 View Post
lol no thankfully none of them tried to offer their "gyaan" on those topics. They were mostly amazed to see a solo driven Jimny from Delhi roaming the mountains. With no requirements of lift kits, 30 inch tyres or winches and other fluff that is peddled by Youtubers like DCV Expeditions and the rest of that ilk.
This post has prompted me to pen down a long reply which was circling in my head for a few years. (Mods please move to a new thread if deemed suitable)

To Modify or Not To Modify



With the advent of the new Thar in the Indian market, it’s fascinating to see the surge in off-roading enthusiasts in India. Later, Jimny only took a minuscule share of the entire 4WD community. Off-roading has become increasingly popular, attracting thrill-seekers of all ages. Whether it’s snowy trails, sand dunes, slushy paths, or rocky landscapes, the allure of extreme terrain is hard to resist. And 4x4 SUVs are the ideal vehicles for this adventure. These vehicles provide better traction and grip, making off-roading a thrilling experience. Some people argue that the Alto is like a nimble mountain goat, capable of impressive feats in the right hands. However, I firmly believe that 4WD vehicles, by their intrinsic capabilities, can truly shine even in the hands of novice drivers. At the same time, as the 4WD market boomed, the aftermarket modification trend reached unprecedented heights. I’ve observed enthusiasts investing twice or thrice the car’s original cost in customizing their vehicles. Interestingly, there’s no definitive right or wrong when it comes to modifications. Some focus on cosmetic enhancements purely for beautification, while others opt for robust mechanical upgrades to enhance off-road capabilities. And then there are those who strike a balance between the two. Personally, before choosing any modification, I always ask myself three critical questions:

1. Why to modify?

Understanding the purpose behind the modification can help ensure that it adds value and enhances the vehicle’s performance or aesthetics in a meaningful way.

2. What is to be modified?

Deciding on the specific parts or aspects of the vehicle to be modified can help focus the modification process and prevent unnecessary or redundant changes.

3. How is my use case pitted against the cost for the mod?

Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of the modification in relation to its utility for the owner’s specific use case can help ensure that the modification is a worthwhile investment.


But looking at the current scenario, I can ascertain that the number of ‘catalogue cars’ is infesting the market by leaps and bounds.

Now, what is a catalogue car?

During an informal chat with the owner of a well-known 4WD modification workshop, we bumped into this coinage. Nowadays, most people with no fixed budget drive into their showroom, and a comprehensive catalogue along with some actual sample parts displayed there are served as a ready-to-eat platter. Many of the customers, without even knowing the use case jump into opting for almost everything from the catalogue (perhaps with the intents to stand out in the crowd). And some due to budget constraints get their 4WDs modified in a phased manner. In both cases, those three questions are never invoked.

I have prepared the following visual representations to cover the entire spectrum, and I shall look forward to where your 4WD fits in.

Before going into the graphs, let's look into some common modifications we think of with pros and cons.

Quote:
Common 4WD Modifications

1. Cosmetic Modifications:

Purpose: These mods focus on enhancing the appearance of the vehicle. They don’t necessarily improve performance but add a personalized touch.

Examples:
  • Body Wraps and Paint: Custom colors, graphics, or vinyl wraps.
  • Alloy Wheels: Upgraded rims for aesthetics.
  • LED Lights: Light bars, underbody lights, or grille lights. (Often illegal in some states of India)

Pros: Aesthetic appeal, individuality.

Cons: No functional improvement.


2. Performance Enhancements:

Purpose: These mods aim to boost the vehicle’s performance, whether on-road or off-road.

Examples:
  • Suspension Upgrades: Lift kits, stiffer springs, or adjustable shocks.
  • Engine Tuning: ECU remapping, air intakes, exhaust upgrades.
  • Tires: Off-road tires for better traction.

Pros: Improved handling, better off-road capability.

Cons: May affect ride comfort or fuel efficiency.


3. Off-Road Modifications:

Purpose: Geared toward tackling challenging terrain.

Examples:
  • Skid Plates: Protect vital components from rocks.
  • Winches: For self-recovery.
  • Snorkels: Allows for water crossings, cleaner air intake
  • Off-Road Bumper: Better protection during OTR (Grey area in terms of MV rules)
  • Lift Kit: To accommodate bigger tires and improving the GC.
  • Low-range Gear Set: To improve crawl ratio.

Pros: Enhanced off-road capability.

Cons: May reduce on-road comfort.


4. Utility and Storage Mods:

Purpose: Enhance practicality and storage capacity.

Examples:
  • Roof Racks: Carry gear, tents, or spare tires.
  • Drawer Systems: Organize tools and equipment.
  • Rear Bumpers with Tire Carriers: Holds spare tire.
  • Large Capacity Fuel Tanks: For long-haul run

Pros: Convenience, versatility.

Cons: Added weight affects fuel efficiency.



The Spectrum of Modifications

Now, let’s explore where your 4WD fits in the spectrum:

1. Catalogue Cars:

Description: These are vehicles modified using pre-designed packages from catalogues. Customers choose from a menu of options.

Characteristics:

Pros: Quick and convenient, consistent quality.

Cons: May not align with individual needs, lacks personalization.

Example: Opting for a full catalogue package without considering specific use cases.


2. Customized Phased Mods:

Description: Gradual modifications based on budget and priorities.

Characteristics:

Pros: Tailored to individual preferences, cost-effective.

Cons: May take longer to achieve desired setup.

Example: Starting with essential mods (e.g., tires, suspension) and adding more over time.


3. Purpose-Driven Mods:

Description: Thoughtful modifications aligned with specific use cases.

Characteristics:

Pros: Optimized for the intended purpose, balanced approach.

Cons: Requires research and planning

Example: Enhancing off-road capabilities for weekend adventures.

The list can be never-ending given the plethora of options available in the market. Provided an unconstrained budget, there is always a chance of going overboard with modification beyond need. The sweet spot for aesthetics vs functionality for every mod is often missed in the pursuit of uniqueness. For example, let the following pic do the talking. None of the extremes conforms to any viable use case, save 'looks' (which is often very subjective). These all seat at the right-most point of the curve (refer graph next to the pic.)

Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons-tires_1.jpg
Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons-curve_1.jpg

Coming back to the graph— people might have polarized opinions, but these are approximate representations that vary with each mod. Where do you see your 4WD in the visual matrix?

Also, please let us know your preferred mod list and the respective vehicle details.

Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons-matrix_1.jpg
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Old 20th May 2024, 18:34   #2
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons - Post moved to a new thread.
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Old 21st May 2024, 09:28   #3
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

As someone who drives two highly-modified 4x4s, here's my two cents.

Pros:

- Will greatly improve the on-road & offroad performance, as long as you choose high quality parts from reputable brands. My 3rd engine swap (Bolero 2.5L motor in the Mahindra Classic) was done through Mahindra. Bought a brand new engine from Mahindra & got it installed by the best Mahindra workshop in town. Its reliability & performance has been better than when the car was new! With my Thar, I have only chosen the best brands in the market (AVO suspension, Prad bumper, Stedi headlights etc.). The performance and reliability of these has proven to be better than OEM.

- Choose the best quality labor and you will enjoy the reliability. Both my 4x4s have been worked on by the best hands in Mumbai.

- Your vehicle will have a distinct personality, mighty style quotient and will provide lots of ownership joy to you. My Classic is the only one of its kind in India, ditto for the Thar. Every modified Jeep is unique & heavily modified ones even more so.

Cons:

- Money. Costs a lot to buy top shelf products & top quality labour. My Thar was worked on by the same guys who have Porsches & Lamborghinis in their shop. The total modifications bill ran to 5 - 6 lakhs. My Classic engine swap cost me 2-lakhs.

- Attention. Way too much of it. You enjoy some of it, but have to park very carefully everywhere.

- Don't go overboard. I was tempted with 305 mm tyres in my Thar too, after seeing a buddy's Thar which looked like a beast, but wisely chose 285 mm as it's a great balance between the butch look and performance. Don't go for lift kits unless you need it, as they destroy your on-road behaviour. When my Classic's original engine popped, I swapped it with a junk 1.8 ISZ petrol (Contessa) by a junk shop. Was very unreliable. Learned my lesson and went with Mahindra for the final brand-new engine swap.

Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons-1.jpg

Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons-2.jpg
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Old 21st May 2024, 11:25   #4
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

IMO the majority of 4WD owners do not use their vehicles off road regularly, some never!

From the photos in the 1st post of this thread of "ginormous" tires and equally sized alloys, I honestly do not know what purpose it serves. Not to sound condescending but I call them "chapri tik tok" mods....
Since tik tok has been banned in India, Instagram has come to the rescue of these people and they end up making reels. I guess social media has given everyone a platform to express themselves.
So they certainly provide entertainment, do not know about their on road nuisance factor though.

Starting with the erstwhile basic mahindra jeeps and maruti gypsies people have been doing a myriad of mods (suspension lifts/upgrades, auto-lockers, LSD, installing crawl ratio gears in the GB, engine upgrades/swaps, steering system upgrades, super fast winches...etc). Most of these mods have been done for competition off road events and some hard core off road hobbyists! These vehicles are purpose built hence they are not road legal anymore. These people "show off" where it matters, off the road!

A third segment tastefully/purposefully (very low in numbers) modify their 4WD and use it as their daily drive maybe take it off road once in a while, these vehicles are certainly road legal.

Some 4WD SUV owners have modified their vehicles from the overlanding perspective (bull bar, roof rack, snorkel, suspension lift) and use it too.
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Old 21st May 2024, 18:13   #5
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

In India, A Thar with bigger tyres and abnoxious huge alloys, you-are-never-gonna-need-them kinda powerful lights are very popular, just because the Thar is particularly affordable, and it increases the rutba quotient if the people's personality. Thay won't even be taking the car off-road, just use it for showoff. A very few people actually modify their car for the function, most of it is for appeal. Ir is a very sad state, Thar is, now, imo, the new KTM. People will take form over factor, a big butch SUV juct cause it looks huge, makes them look rich.
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Old 21st May 2024, 20:46   #6
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

The only mod I have done so far are tyres, got RTs, and surprisingly found them to be more comfortable than the ATs which had come from the factory. Other than that, planning to get some rock sliders. Not keen on anything else as I do not want to attract unwanted attention from the cops.
PS: I was stopped by Mumbai RTO for the Snorkel, showed them the owner’s manual and was promptly let off.
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Old 21st May 2024, 22:03   #7
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

A very apt thread, especially at a time when Offroad worthy vehicles are the talk of the town with Thar, Jimny and Gurkha in the market and the 5 door Thar right around the corner.

However, the modifications scene in the market is very skewed towards show off in many parts of the country rather than real utility mods. Additionally, many (like me) are skeptical about the mods primarily because of the legality of such modifications. Some states tend to be too stringent on enforcing the word of law, that it becomes difficult to justify the spend.

Another issue is the impact on warranty. Our laws are very subjective and often these mods end up making warranty claims impossible. This is more relevant as many buyers of these vehicles are not offroaders but buying them as a lifestyle vehicle and might not be comfortable with voiding the warranties.

I own the new Thar and the only addition I have for now is a full underbody protection to save me from hits on the trails we do in Bengaluru as part of the Thar Bengaluru group.
Few mods planned are:
1. Steel Rims (16 or 17")
2. RT or AT tyres to match the rims
3. Light (preferably halogens - I hate the white lights)
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Old 21st May 2024, 23:13   #8
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

The cons should include 'risking insurance', 'risking vehicle's safety' and becoming 'illegal' as per the law of the land.

Have seen a turtled Fortuner on the forum. The cause of the accident was a blown up aftermarket alloy. It took all these three cons to another level in my thinking about mods.

Last edited by MT_Hyderabad : 21st May 2024 at 23:17.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 08:43   #9
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Quote:
Originally Posted by justwheels View Post
A very apt thread, especially at a time when Offroad worthy vehicles are the talk of the town with Thar, Jimny and Gurkha in the market and the 5 door Thar right around the corner.

However, the modifications scene in the market is very skewed towards show off in many parts of the country rather than real utility mods.
There is an undeniable show-off quotient with the Thar by default. On top of that, few choosy modifications ramp up the show-off factor by a large magnitude. No surprise why the RWD Thar is so much successful in the Indian Market!
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Old 22nd May 2024, 09:53   #10
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Unless someone is trying to specifically tackle certain type of terrains, doing extreme rock crawling etc, majority of mods are an overkill for 4*4 suv (barring tyres). The factory 4*4s are more than capable for the overlanding needs, which majority of the offroading enthusiasts use their 4*4s for.

Even when it comes to tyres, increasing more side wall and replacing your alloys with steels (or reducing the size of the alloys) increases durability and utility. But we don't see that too often as well. On the other hand we get see these obnoxious wider low profile tyres with obnoxious alloys. Needless to say, their factory suspensions and driving dynamics is going to take a hit. The guys who do these mods are kids and they only care about attention. I'm sure those vehicles are 4*2 variants as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
The only mod I have done so far are tyres, got RTs, and surprisingly found them to be more comfortable than the ATs which had come from the factory.
Road tyres are always comfortable than ATs or MTs. They even offer good mileage. But if you're taking the gurkha to overlanding or other offroading purposes it's better to have atleast ATs.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:56   #11
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthroamer View Post

Road tyres are always comfortable than ATs or MTs. They even offer good mileage. But if you're taking the gurkha to overlanding or other offroading purposes it's better to have atleast ATs.
RTs are Rugged terrains, they lie in between ATs and MTs.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 11:16   #12
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

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Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
RTs are Rugged terrains, they lie in between ATs and MTs.
Oh, wow. Then that is suprising. I thought you were referring to Road tyres.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 14:30   #13
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Being a Thar petrol AT owner, I will be honest the car had pathetic ride quality, jerking on every bump and undulations one comes across. Until I installed a Tough dog suspension upgrade just before my trip to Nepal. Man I am so glad I did it, with three ladies on board and luggage for four people. I couldn't have hoped for a more comfortable on road and offroad ride quality. Yes it's a pricey upgrade but I feel this is the first mod that a Thar owner should do. You will thank me later.
I didn't want to increase the ride height but it comes with the package. Only con I can think of is due to the increased height there is more wind resistance.
Pros: improved ride quality, lighter steering, lesser nose dive and marginally better brake feedback.

I have done host of functional mods and a few aesthetic ones too.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 17:11   #14
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

Good topic; the answer also depends on how you use your vehicle, like, do you ride alone to places where you might need self-recovery? If so, you better have a car capable of doing it.

Nonetheless, vehicle mod is only limited by what you want/can spend; a better part is always available in the market to enhance the vehicle's capability. Given the money to spend most of us would readily do lots of internal and external mods!

Of my 2 onroad cars, one has a winch, and the other is bone stock; I ride solo do offroading solo, at least till now and it's a good piece of hardware to possibly see you out of most situations.

Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons-jeep_jimny.jpg

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Old 23rd May 2024, 10:08   #15
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Re: Modification options for your 4x4 with pros & cons

As somebody who has recently been bitten by this 4x4 bug, this thread indeed is a great guide. It's quite easy to get carried away with all the mods with the many options now available in our market. I have not added anything apart from 215 AT tyres(in 5 months) to my Jimny yet, but this thread will definitely help is objectively prioritising things based on needs.

Last edited by ChauhanSaurabh : 23rd May 2024 at 10:10.
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