When times get tough, hobbies are usually the first place where people look to trim the financial fat. Off-roading is no different. If you want to optimize your off-road rig for improved performance, but you need to do so on a budget, there are several things that you can do to upgrade your ride and save on the expense. You can install components, such as the Rubicon Express Budget Boost suspension kit, to increase your vehicle’s ride profile. Some kits include all of the hardware needed for installation; other kits require a supplemental installation package with fittings and bushings.
There is one important upgrade that you can perform to your engine that will boost horsepower, torque, fuel economy, and optimize your vehicle’s overall performance. A chip or a programmer can help you dial in several key performance metrics, including spark, timing, vacuum advance, and idle, to achieve the right combination for your style of off-roading. A chip comes pre-programmed and you simply install it in your vehicle's electronic control system. For some applications, a programmer can be used on an as-needed basis to alter your engine’s specifications without the permanent installation of any device.
Upgrades to the intake and exhaust system can also improve the efficiency of your rig’s engine, as well as the overall performance of the ride itself. Installing a cold-air intake system can boost torque and horsepower gains, allowing you improved throttle response. This can be especially helpful for rock-crawling, and for gaining traction on wet, sloppy, or loosely packed surfaces. Also, a free-flowing exhaust system can improve fuel efficiency and optimize the engine’s entire power band. For exhaust, you have two options: a complete exhaust system, including headers, or a cat-back system for emissions-controlled vehicles.
A Rancho or Rubicon Express lift kit can provide your vehicle with additional clearance to either mount larger wheels and tires, or to clear rougher, rockier terrains with ease. The installation of a lift kit is a more involved process than installing a pre-programmed chip or an exhaust system kit, but generally kits include everything you’ll need to complete the installation. Lift kits come in various levels of increase, from 1 inch to beyond 6 inches. Depending on the style of driving you plan to do, the level of increase is vital to the ultimate performance of your rig.