PickUps: The new lifestyle vehicles
A decade or two ago, pickup trucks were viewed as utilitarian, agricultural or commercial vehicles, tracing their roots to military vehicles from wars past.
Today, pickups have morphed into sophisticated tough workhorses that are as comfortable as most cars on paved surfaces, yet allow people to haul prodigious amounts of gear for work or business as well as a means to allow outdoor-oriented lifestyle hobbyists to indulge in their pastime which include biking, camping, or simply offroad trail and adventure driving.
Many pickups utilize sophisticated electronics to allow even the most virgin of offroad pickup drivers to go far beyond where they normally would, to haul heavy loads with ease, and to tow equally large objects such as cars and small boats.
But as with any hobby or lifestyle, we tend to want more from our pickups, be it in performance terms, or simply for aesthetic purposes to help our pickup trucks, or rigs, as many hobbyists call them, stand out.
So we came up with a simple list of things you can consider when upgrading your pickup (or SUV, for that matter) to make it more capable offroad while equally improving your pickup’s onroad capabilities.
1. Tough Dog foam cell suspension
Tough Dog, a trusted name in the Australian 4×4 pickups, utilizes an all-new suspension technology to deliver impressive vehicle control while maintaining an amazing ride.
Its shock absorbers utilize a special compressible foam instead of the traditional nitrogen-charged suspension fluid inside the shocks to greatly improve ride comfort. It’s also damping adjustable, with nine clicks of adjustment to firm up the suspension.
You can use your stock-height springs, or add 40 mm of increased ride height by using lift springs and rear shackles on your pickup’s leaf springs. Improved ride comfort, improved body control, reduced squatting under acceleration, and reduced nose-diving under heavy braking, plus a more stable rear end when fully laden or when towing, it’s a win-win situation with these Tough Dog suspension parts.
Price: starting at P50,000
2. XD Series wheels and Dick Cepek tires
No other modification vastly impacts your car’s aesthetics and performance than with a great wheel-and-tire upgrade. The XD Series wheels are wider and stronger than OEM wheels, allowing you to mount wider tires for improved off-road performance.
The Dick Cepek Extreme Country tires feature aggressive mud-terrain tread designs, but thanks to modern hybrid rubber compound technology, will last far longer than traditional off-road mud terrain tires when used on paved roads, and offering better grip on wet tarmac.
Plus, it’s significantly more quiet than older generation mud terrain tires.
Price: starting at P45,000 for the XD Series wheels size 17 inches, and P14,000 for the Dick Cepek tires sized at 17 inches
3. Opposite Lock front bumper and rock sliders
These heavy steel pieces help protect your vehicle when going into the wild. The front steel bumper has a variety of mounting points for additional accessories such as lights, winches and more, while the rock sliders protect your vehicle’s underside when your ground clearance just isn’t enough to overcome a tough obstacle, allowing your pickup to slide over them, thus the term rock sliders.
It looks mean on the street to, making other motorists think twice about suddenly cutting you off the road as well!
Price: P55,000 for the steel bumper, P24,000 for the rock sliders
4. ProFab engine upgrades
The suspension, wheels, tires and steel accessories all help improve offroad performance, but they do add weight to your vehicle. Get back lost performance, and gain even more power with engine upgrades from ProFab.
ProFab specializes in improving a typical CRDi engine’s performance. The local company’s tuning program involves improving the turbo intercooler piping, upgrading the engine intercooler, freeing up the engine’s breathing via a more efficient large-bore and straighter exhaust design and topping it all up with high quality aluminium and stainless steel materials.
You even have the option to powder coat the turbo intercooler pipes for better heat rejection. On a typical CRDi turbocharged engine, you can expect gains of 30-40 horsepower by doing these mechanical upgrades. But the icing on the cake is getting a custom ECU tune.
ProFab offers specialised ECU tuning that can almost double your vehicle’s horsepower and torque, verified on a dynamometer, a device that is used to measure an engine’s output.
For even more extreme projects, ProFab can upgrade your turbocharger and add water/methanol injection to cool the intake charge, thus delivering more power. With a fully laden and armored-up pickup, you will need all the power you can get.
Price: starting at P15,000 for the turbo intercooler piping, P25,0000 for the full exhaust upgrade, and P45,000 for a custom ECU tune
5. Motul 300V EsterCore fully-synthetic oils
Now that your engine is working harder, you’ll want to protect it especially when offroading where the engine operates at high revs with minimal cooling passing through the radiator.
Motul’s line of ester-based fully-synthetic lubricants provide a higher flash point than conventional crude oil based synthetics, provides a higher and more consistent oil pressure to your engines which is important on turbocharged CRDi engines, and is generally cleaner and more environmentally friendly than traditional synthetic oils.
Their EsterCore technology is the company’s greatest technological achievement in its 164 year history, essentially a true motorsports grade oil you’ll find in factory-backed race cars competing in the world’s toughest circuits.
Motul also offers a line of chemicals, coolants, greases and other fluids to improve your car’s brakes, transmission, differential, engine cooling, clutch and power-steering systems.
Price: starting at P2,400 for a 2-liter bottle of 300V
6. D1 Spec thermo radiator cap
We all want to know how hard we can push our trucks, but we need proper instrumentation and diagnostics equipment.
An auxiliary aftermarket temperature gauge is a good solution, but many traditional offroad enthusiasts despise added electrical equipment as they sometimes cannot hold up to the rigors of offroad driving.
D1 Spec introduces a simple yet elegant solution: a high-capacity radiator cap with a built-in thermometer on top of the cap which can accurately measure your coolant temperature.
While not as elegant as an aftermarket gauge inside your truck, this simple device can allow you to monitor your engine’s operating temperature whenever you stop, rather than guessing or relying on the often inaccurate wides-sweep OEM temperature gauge on your dashboard.
7. Brembo brake pads
You’ve upgraded your wheels, tires and suspension. You’ve added protection in the form of steel bumpers and rock sliders, which has weighed down the vehicle further. You’ve upgraded the engine to increase output and find lost performance due to added weight, and added even more power to further improve your vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio. You’ve also ensured that your engine is better-protected with higher quality fluids, lubricants and chemicals, and you’ve installed a nifty small device to measure engine temperature. Are you forgetting something?
The brakes, often the very last piece most people upgrade, are essential in improving performance, and gaining better fade-free stopping power and modulation, critical when descending a tricky slope.
Bermuda, the world leader in high-performance braking technology, now offers both OEM replacement and high-performance brake pads for pickups, trucks, SUVs, sedans or sports cars at a surprisingly affordable price, even lower than OEM.
You get the same technology found on top-level Formula 1 and Le Mans race cars at a fraction of the cost of even OEM brake pads.
Price: starting at P6,000 for a complete set of front and rear brake pads
8. PIAA LED driving lamps
Now that your vehicle is more capable, you’ll want to keep exploring its abilities. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself driving home late at night, or going camping overnight in a secluded site.
PIAA’s latest generation of LED driving lamps deliver impressive and very focused illumination that is homologated for road use in Europe and Japan, very low current draw, and very solid build-quality that won’t catch fire unlike those cheap, no-name China-made LED lamps.
These are also handy when you find yourself driving in very bad weather.
9. Hard Race upper control arms
The Hard Race upper control arms or UCAs are a must if you want to lift your pickup higher than two inches, or regularly use your vehicle on very tough terrain. The ball-joints on these arms offer a wider range of adjustment, are more durable, and crucially, can be replaced independently of the entire arm, which saves on cost.
The bushings can also be replaced independently as well, unlike many OEM suspension parts which are bought and sold only as complete assemblies. These Hard Race UCAs will be of great benefit, help you save on costs in the future, and will last longer than OEM ones.