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Transform Your Stock Jeep Wrangler into Custom Awesomeness

Jeep Wrangler with Westin Automotive's Scope Stubby Bull Bar Front Bumper
iKnowAuto Staff
Sure, you think your Jeep Wrangler is king of the trail, but is it? Is it really suitable to take on all the challenges the off-road kingdom has to offer? Can it honestly be considered a rock crawling, dirt kicking, river swimming, machine? Or is it just another Jeep from Toledo? If you are still riding on the tires it was born with, then the answer is you’re not ready for prime time on the trail just yet.
MAR 13, 2019

Everybody knows that the first customization you do on a Jeep Wrangler is to jack it up 2, 4, or 6 inches with a lift kit. This not only gets you great clearance, but you’ve got room for those custom wheels wrapped in 33” knobby off-road tires. But hey, once that’s done, what’s next in tricking out the Wrangler for off-road superhero status?

Well here’s a short list of add-ons that not only give your Wrangler a boost in performance but look amazingly cool as well

Fender Flares

When you buy those bigger, wider tires, for your custom Jeep Wrangler, you’re going to have to make room for them on your ride. That’s why you installed a lift kit. But you are also going to have to replace the stock fenders on your JK or JY. There just isn’t enough room to turn the wheels left or right without rubbing against the stock fenders.

So, what you need are fender flares, add-ons that replace stock fenders, provide plenty of space for wheel maneuvering even in the toughest off-road conditions, and provide some protection from debris kicked up by the wheels. Fortunately, most of these fenders can be directly bolted to the chassis using predrilled holes. This will be the easiest bodywork you will ever do on your Jeep. The results are both performance enhancing and give your ride a slick, cool looking, appearance.

Maybe your biggest challenge of this upgrade project is selecting the fenders that really float your boat. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors from a bunch of big names in the off-road accessories business. Some of our favorites are RBP, Smittybilt, and Rugged Ridge. Just keep in mind that the keys to finding the perfect fit are durability and compatibility.

Custom Jeep JK Wrangler Bumpers

Your stock Jeep Wrangler is one tough cookie as is. It’s meant to get off the pavement and play in the dirt. But there is one component of your Wrangler that isn’t as versatile as it should be and that’s your front bumper. If you have ever wheeled your vehicle, and almost every off-roader has, you know what we mean. When that dirt turns to mud and wheels sink up to the hub, your stock bumper falls short in the “rescue” department.

A custom front bumper brings extra capacity to your ride, including the ability to recue yourself without calling for a tow. Custom bumpers give you the same protection as a stock bumper but can do so much more. Custom bumpers are made to hang stuff on. Most custom bumpers either give you space for, or come with, a winch, lights, recovery points, bull bar and more. You get stuck, you ‘ve got a winch. If you can’t get a line on a tree or boulder, you have rescue points for your buddy to hook up to. You’ve got extra lighting for night running, a bulbar to knock down brush, and Dude, your ride looks so awesome!

Like the flare fenders, you have choices with custom front bumpers. They come in three sizes, full, mid-size and stubby. Which you choose is really a matter of personal choice, unless you have gone all-in with 37” tires. In that case, you’ll have to go with a stubby in order to make room for the monster rubber. The full-size and mid-size models will both accommodate up to 33” tires. We like ARB for the full-size bumper with bullbar, Barricade for the Extreme HD Front Bumper, and Westin Automotive Products with Scope Stubby Bull Bar Front Bumper. Again, when choosing. Consider compatibility and durability.

Winches

A winch can quickly become your best friend on the trail particularly if you get a bent suspension or get stuck in a hole. It’s also a great way to remove obstacles in your path. And of course, you can be the hero by helping a stuck or disabled buddy out of a mess.

When you are looking at winches you want to evaluate line speed, line pull rate, motor strength, and mounting method. In order to make an informed decision, you need to know the gross weight of your ride. Take that number multiply it by 1.5 and you get the minimum line pull rate for your Jeep. A pull rate of 1.5 gross weight will not pull you up anything other than the flattest of slopes. Better to overkill on capacity than discover you’ve been hauling a winch around that can’t perform when it counts.

Smittybilt offers a 12,000 lb. pull winch with remote control for about $650 but then again, they also offer a 9,000 lb. remote control model for less than half that price. There are a lot of choices. Some of the most popular include the Barricade 9,500 lb. winch and the economical Rugged Ridge 8,500 lb. with 94’ wire rope and latched hook.

Smittybilt X2O 12K GEN2 Comp Series 12000lb Wireless Winch

Snorkles

If your off-road playground includes creeks, streams, and shallow bodies of water, you may want to consider getting a snorkel kit to make fording those watery obstacles easier. When you take on water or mud you have to be concerned about the depth thanks to the low placement of your stock intake system. Get too deep and you get hydrolock choking off the engine.

A snorkel system can prevent that. It attaches to the intake system, and much like the snorkel you use at the beach, runs a pipe straight up well above the water level. It requires some custom body work as the “stove pipe” is higher than the hood. They come in a variety of configurations from discreet to “look at me, I can swim.”

Snorkles are not for everyone but if you have an interest, check out the offerings from Rugged Ridge, Wild Boar, and Red Rock. All three make high quality parts with emphasis on durability and easy installation.

So that’s it. There are plenty of other exciting Jeep accessories available for your ride and you can find most of them at iKnowAuto.com.