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Old 07-25-2012, 09:49 PM   #1
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Off-road Priorities

Here's a poll for you off-road veterans that could help the rest of us. Please rank the following in your opinion of importance, with number 1 being most important for successful and enjoyable Jeep experiences:
A. Tires and wheels (and airing down)
B. Gearing
C. Lockers or limited-slips
D. Driver skill and experience
E. Armor, skid plates, and protection
F. Tools and recovery equipment
G. Regular Jeep maintenance
H. Lifts and suspension
Please feel free to add any advice or comments related to these things that you have learned from personal experience. Thanks, guys (and gals)!

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Old 07-25-2012, 10:03 PM   #2
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This is the order I would suggest on a budget. Doing a little at a time, the simple stuff first (you can still wheel just not as extreme). As your experience grows, add the gear for more challenging trails.

D.
G.
A.
H.
E.
F. Recovery Gear - Winch/Tow(snatch) Strap, Come Along, etc.
C.
B.

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Old 07-25-2012, 10:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input. The best advice usually comes from someone who has "been there and done that"!
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:49 PM   #4
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G.
F.
E.
D.
A.
C.
H.
B.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:41 AM   #5
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Regular Jeep maintenance shouldn't even make the list; it's something you should be doing regardless of offroading. Experience will come along no matter which route you take, although gaining seat time before doing a ton of mods will greatly benefit you. Learning how to drive off road will help you much more than any of the mods you've listed.

Personally I think skid plates should be some of your first investments. All the lift, tires, and lockers in the world won't help you if you get a hole in your oil pan. After that, it's pretty much personal choice. New tires and wheels are helpful, and along with those goes your suspension upgrades. After that, it's gearing and lockers since they kinda go hand in hand and are some of the more expensive things you'll do.
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:56 PM   #6
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Thanks for more good opinions and info! Does almost everyone get a steering box skid plate? Are any of them direct bolt-ons (no drilling)? Which skid plate is most important? It seems like I read that the newer TJs from around 2002 on had a better factory gas tank skid than mine.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:47 AM   #7
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Most any steering box skid should be bolt on; some have an extra mount that you can drill and use a self tapping bolt with. Either way, it's stupidly simply to do. A steering box skid isn't as big of a priority as say the oil pan skid, but since they're so cheap you might as well get one. I got one from Rokmen for around $45 shipped.

As far as importance, I'd say the oil pan is your most important since it's extremely vulnerable and left uncovered. And yes, the newer TJs had a thicker gas tank skid; if you have one of the older skids that are pretty much worthless you might want to look into getting something. But again, it's not necessarily an immediate concern. To save some cash you can even get one of the skids from the newer TJs, but they're still not the best; I've managed to dent mine a good bit.

The transfer case is already well protected, but the downside is it's skid plate is a major obstacle off road. Replacing it with something more low profile (ie. what people call a tummy tuck, belly up, etc.) will really help you off road. But again, in terms of importance it's a bit lower. Some engine and t-case skids work together, like Under Cover Fab's, so it might be worth doing them together.

Just a few things to think about.
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Old 07-27-2012, 05:45 PM   #8
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Thanks, Geiman! I already figured on the oil pan, but the steering box on a TJ just looks so vulnerable sticking out there. Also, I let my hi-lift jack go with my CJ7 when I sold it, and I never bought another one. I only have a good tow strap now. Do most Jeepers use the high-lift now? I don't see myself getting a winch for a long time.
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:47 PM   #9
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1st is survival gear. If you are really out there it may be a few days or a week before you see anyone and it is best to be somewhat comfortable during the episode.
NEXT

D: get experience and leave the macho image at home. I find most of the problems come from so-called friends egging someone on. That's why most of my really rugged stuff in Idaho was alone. REALLY extreme was with the line foreman.
F: Recovery 1st priority - Winch and accessories 2nd - Winch and accessories; 3rd - Winch and accessories; 4th 4wheel chains. (remeber, 4wd ONLY lets you get stuck in more inaccessible places and then both ends are stuck. AND you are further from the trailhead.
G. Tires (applicable tread for the terrain)
H. Rest is personal and dependant on trip.
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJMichael View Post
Thanks, Geiman! I already figured on the oil pan, but the steering box on a TJ just looks so vulnerable sticking out there. Also, I let my hi-lift jack go with my CJ7 when I sold it, and I never bought another one. I only have a good tow strap now. Do most Jeepers use the high-lift now? I don't see myself getting a winch for a long time.
The steering box is definitely in a bad spot, but you'll find some like Jerry B. who claim to have never hit it. I've got a few gouges on mine, so I say it's a worthwhile investment. Either way, when you can get one for less than $50 shipped, why even question it. It's good piece of mind.

As for the highlift, search a bit and you'll find varying opinions on that. I'll say this; they are very dangerous, and they scare the crap out of me. I'll use one as a last resort, but only as a last resort. I used to carry one and had only used it once or twice in over two years of wheeling; I stopped carrying it when I bent it. I've been meaning to heat it up and straighten it but haven't gotten around to it. I just picked up a winch for cheap so I doubt I'll bother with it any time soon.

There are a few situations where lifting a vehicle up can be an easy means of stacking rocks and getting a vehicle unstuck, but usually it's much easier and safer to hook up a strap or winch and pull yourself out. If you wheel with others who have recovery equipment, I'd say don't bother buying one. Typically there will be plenty of those who have one and are anxious to use it in the event that you do need one. Personally I would have rather saved the ~$100 and put that towards my winch. I picked up a Warn XD9000 winch in great condition for $400; deals can be had.

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