Bare minimum upgrades for hundy for light/moderate off-road use

jdlobb

Adventurer
So I just got my '98 Land Cruiser last weekend, and I'm trying to plan out my build.

I'm looking take it out for her first proper trip off road in the spring, so I have some time to plan and save for some upgrades.

What would you recommend as the bare minimum I should do, and what are the highest priority "nice-to-haves?" What is the cost associated, and what should I budget?

Right now she's sitting stock except for some engine upgrades, which I'm assuming would be on the must-have list anyways.

Thanks,
Jon

KCCO
 

Bretthn

Explorer
Congrats.
Honestly, it will take you about anywhere you want to go in stock form unless you are looking to rock crawl. Take it on a few adventures to get a feel for what you want.
As far as wheelability* mine is stock with the exception of upgraded tires. It will go where I am not willing to take it, until I get some armor. (sliders)
You will love it. Post up some pictures.
Brett
 

jdlobb

Adventurer
yeah, no rock crawling. Most likely Dallas to Big Bend, with 4 days spent off road in the park. I don't know the state of trails in Big Bend though. My gut is telling me probably good tires and OME suspension upgrades at a minimum.
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
People will come out of the woodwork to help you, but here's my advice after having had two of them . . .

You can make a lot of progress by putting on the more aggressive tires of your choice (possibly in a little bigger size, but you don't need to go crazy as Hundreds already blessed with some of the biggest stock tires of any SUV).

Then you need to get the fiberglass running boards off and stored in the attic; you'll want them available for resale. Then put on a set of metal sliders, preferably some with a little step to them if you have shorter people to get in the truck. MetalTech made mine and I thought they were ideal:




After you do that, decide if you need to put a bunch of recovery gear on a roof basket (at the loss of maybe an mpg) or whether it can go inside. And unless you're giving tours, you probably want to remove the third row seats. Put them in the attic with the running boards.

After that, there's lots you can do. If you want to be more serious, go the Hundy forum at Ih8mud.com and read through many weeks of posts. Realize, though, that the more you do, the less good it is for a daily driver. The very best thing about the Hundreds, IMHO, is that with only tires and running boards, it's a very good overland truck while still being a classy ride you can drive clients around in.

One last thing . . . don't be to eager to mess with the engine. It's a fabulous engine with legendary reliability. Moving it away from stock may not produce benefits that outweigh the negatives.

Figure about $1000 for the tires; maybe $750 for the sliders. Then about $250 for a modest roof basket for the factory bars. So $2K and your good to go overlanding, if perhaps not rock crawling. Enjoy.
 

jdlobb

Adventurer
Sorry for asking what may seem like a fairly obvious question. But what is the benefit of the sliders for basic overland use? I thought they'd be more of a rock crawling necessity.
 

Bretthn

Explorer
The rocker panels are the weak point when it comes to areas that are at risk for damage if you do ever get into a tricky situation. (you still have more clearance than most stock vehicles) They are not necessary but for the money it is a worth while investment for piece of mind. They are next on my list.
 

jdlobb

Adventurer
so if it came down to choosing between OME suspension and sliders.... sliders?

Would the following list seem to be the correct order of priority?

A/T Tires
Roof Basket
Sliders
Suspension
Front Bumper
Rear Bumper
 

JHa6av8r

Adventurer
It nice to see people talking common sense. I've come to the conclusion most builds are way over done. The only thing I'd add to my stock truck is sliders because my break over angle due to my longer wheel base. Armor the bottom and it will take you to 95% of where you want to go.
 

LexusAllTerrain

Expedition Leader
so if it came down to choosing between OME suspension and sliders.... sliders?

Would the following list seem to be the correct order of priority?

A/T Tires

Sliders

Suspension
This would be my must haves!

Tires= better protection, better traction!
Suspension= better load capacity, go faster offroad and better clearance!
Sliders= peace of mind while you get the driving skills!

Oh! and you can go anywhere in your Landcruiser at Big Bend it is basically a two wheel drive trails!
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
so if it came down to choosing between OME suspension and sliders.... sliders? Would the following list seem to be the correct order of priority?
You certainly sound like you are going about this in a level-headed manner.

In my opinion, having used a 2000 and a 2005 for overland travel, here's what I think. Note that I pretty much agree with the earlier comment about the average truck being overbuilt. (I've personally overbuilt several of them. ;) )

The bumpers are expensive and weigh a lot, which almost mandates beefier suspension. And if you add a rear carrier to your new rear bumper, you really cut into the routine utility of the truck. So put them at the bottom.

Given that you probably already have factory crossbars, adding the roof rack/basket is super easy. Add it if you need it; don't if you don't.

Tires make the biggest difference of anything as to where you can go. There are all-terrains that have very little effect on driveability and noise. You probably want something with a little bit of aggressive tread, but even something as modest as a Michelin LTX/MS2 will let you get through snow and limited mud and give you more confidence in case the weather changes.

The fiberglass running boards would be easy to accidentally destroy. Replacing them with sliders is insurance against expensive issues.

The suspension upgrades are kind of a tricky issue. You can spend thousands (though I wouldn't), but there are inexpensive ways to get some lift and a bit more articulation. Not sure, though, that the benefits are worth much for simple off-pavement use. If you figure to always be on a "road," stock will probably suit you. If you actively want to go looking for difficult trails, that's another matter.

So, my vote is: 1) tires, 2) sliders, 3) roof rack, 4) modest suspension tweaks, 5) front bumper, 6) rear bumper.

NB: Three other points are . . . First, if you need a winch, consider putting a winch on a mounting plate into the stock rear receiver. Then you can have it when you need it, but don't have to carry it for daily driver use. Second, if you change tire sizes, there's a lot of advantage to keeping the size increase small enough that the spare still fits in the stock location. It doesn't sound like you need really big tires, so the downsides of getting a tire that has to be mounted somewhere else doesn't seem worth the effort. Third, make sure you have at least one front tow hook and a rear tow hook or, equally good, a way to hold a strap to the rear receiver. Then carry a good strap so someone can pull you out should you run into trouble.
 

jdlobb

Adventurer
Fantastic advice all, thank you.

I'd like to turn to the topic of tires, as I'll probably do that first, though not until the weather starts to turn this winter.

Please feel free to link me to other threads as I'm sure this has already been discussed at length.

Right now the Land Cruiser is outfitted with Falken Ziex S/TZ 275/65-18

The look to be pretty sedate highway tires.

First, what size should I be shopping for? My assumption was 285/65-18.

At that size I like the Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar, but I don't know what I'm talking about.
 

LexusAllTerrain

Expedition Leader
Good size choice to start, I will read all tire reviews and see which one makes sense to you for what you are going to use your vehicle!

Keep in mind you will drive 80% pavement and 20% offroad?
 

ChuckB

Expedition Leader
I would also add that proper sliders give the added benefit of a proper hi-lift jacking point in addtion to rocker protection.
 

SSF556

SE Expedition Society
One of the best things I did to my Jeep was put in DynaMat in the interior. Yes I had to pull out the seats and carpet, but it may be good to do that on a used vehicle anyway. It reduced tire and road noise, which made both of us happy. I do not have to blast the radio when driving 70+ mph.

Also be sure to upgrade your recovery equipment....could be a simple as a bubba rope, bottle jack and the Bogert bottle jack kit. I also include a portable air compressor as recovery/safety equipment.
 

zimm

Expedition Leader
the truck will go farther than you think, but you will want to go farther than you think.

protect your vitals. i know youre not rock crawling, but nether do i, and my 1/4 skids have nice dents. get skids and sliders before bumpers.

put 33's on. if you find yourself in an airdown situation, 31's turn into 29's. one of first things you need to learn to do in adventure travel, is air down. you have a much improved chance of driving thru and not needing the winch you dont have.

if youre going to use a hitch winch, and not have steel bumpers, dont use a hitch winch. i'd get a Black Rat, as you can attach it to more locations easier. the hitch winch is a 100 pound pain in the ******** that only hooks to the rear receiver, assuming you can get it in place when stick in that mud hole. im also not a big fan of putting 12,000 side loads on a factory part designed for 5000 pound rolling loads. ive never seen one bent up, but ive never seen one have a hitch winch in it either. they always seemed like something that was handy for farmers and oil field workers more than wheeling.

tire kit, inflation, even if its a foot pump, one tree trap, two bow shackles, one extension line, one yanker, and one snatch block. gloves.
 
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