What to consider before purchasing aftermarket accessories for your 4x4.
4x4 accessories are a big business but there is a lot to consider before shelling out your hard-earned cash on the latest LED lighting system or carbon fibre roof racks.
Accessories contribute to the gross vehicle mass (GVM) of your 4x4 and decrease its legal carrying capacity (payload). Ensure the weight of your accessories is considered along with the weight of the vehicles, passengers, fuel, water and everything else you’re carrying when planning a trip.
If you think you’re getting close to the GVM or just aren’t sure, weigh your fully loaded vehicle at the nearest weighbridge.
Having the capacity to carry some more gear might sound attractive but adding extra weight to the roof of the vehicle can cause it to become unstable. There have been instances where the combination of extra weight and off-road conditions has caused the vehicle to roll over.
Most roof racks have a maximum load rating which is the weight they can safely carry. Regardless of the load rating of the roof racks, check the roof loading rating for your 4x4. It can be found in your vehicle’s handbook and could be lower than what the roof rack can carry.
Even when not carrying a load, roof racks increase drag which can increase your fuel consumption so consider removing roof racks when they’re not needed.
Some aftermarket LED lighting isn’t legal for on-road use.
Wheels and tyres
While bigger tyres can enhance the look of your 4x4, they’re not always practical or legal. In Queensland, the maximum allowable increase in combined wheel and tyre diameter is 50mm.
Mud tyres may be recommended for off-road performance but are not necessarily suitable for on-road or beach driving. Mud tyres can be significantly more expensive than road tyres and can be very noisy on the road so if you’re mostly driving on-road, or rarely drive through muddy terrain, you can save money by keeping standard tyres on your 4x4.
If you’re considering a suspension lift check the rules and regulations before making a purchase.
Contact the Department of Transport and Main Road to find out how to ensure your vehicle is compliant.
There are situations where there is a genuine and demonstrable need for bull bars, however many are fitted to vehicles that are rarely used in areas where they’re likely to be needed. Many bull bars are fitted solely to enhance the appearance of the vehicle.
Bull bars can pose a serious risk to pedestrians and other road-users if involved in a crash. A poorly designed bull bar can also risk your safety and the safety of your passengers by altering the way your 4x4 performs in a crash.
Bull bars also add weight to the front of the vehicle which may cause damage, increase fuel consumption and wear and tear.
If you regularly travel in an area where animal strikes are common or where assistance is not readily available, a bull bar may be justifiable. However, if you predominantly drive where the risk of colliding with large animals is very low, consider a nudge bar which is smaller than a bull bar but may still offer protection to your vehicle.