Best Ways to Modify a Jeep

One of the hottest vehicles to modify these days is the Jeep Wrangler. Each generation of this legendary off-roader has its own set of positive attributes. While Jeep enthusiasts will debate the finer points of YJs vs TJs vs JKs, in general you should know some modifications for Jeeps are just plain cooler than others. That’s important, because the sheer range of Jeep aftermarket products is staggering. Before you fall for “Angry Eyes” or a chromed-out bull bar, consider the following.

 

Rooftop Tent

 

Even if you’re not looking to do some serious overlanding, but just want to use your Jeep for camping, having a tent that goes on the roof can be super helpful. Quite a few different companies make tents you can slap on your Jeep. Many just attach to the roof rack with simple hardware, and have a fold-out platform, plus a ladder to climb up. The best tents pretty much just fold out with the platform, so you don’t need to set up much.

 

One of the main advantages of these tents is that they get you up and away from animals. Once you’ve had a run-in with little or big critters in the backcountry, you’ll understand why that’s so important.

 

Side Armor

 

If you plan on taking your Jeep on some serious trails where it might rub against rocks, trees, or other solid obstacles, give some serious consideration to side armor. It comes in many forms, with rock rails being perhaps the most useful. Thoroughly check out any option you’re considering, because some “side armor” provides light protection against damage, if even that much.

 

While side armor looks cool, if you don’t need it, putting it on your Jeep might not be the best move. Real armor weighs a lot, which puts strain on your suspension, kills fuel economy, and makes you Jeep handle more like a tank.

 

Snorkel

 

These can be controversial in some circles, but a snorkel does have its uses. Plus, they just plain look cool, giving your Jeep a more safari appearance.

 

Of course, the main function of a snorkel is to put the air intake opening at a higher level for water crossings. If you like to venture where deep water can be common, this modification is a solid move. Even if you don’t, a snorkel does something cold air intakes don’t: it draws in genuinely cooler air. Cold air intakes, even those what close off the element in a box under the hood, are subject to heat soak to an extent. Dealing with an overheating Jeep in the middle of nowhere is no fun. Snorkels guarantee a Jeep will be sucking in outside air, which even on a hot day is cooler than what’s under the hood.

 

Lift Kit

 

Jeeps just look better once they’re lifted. Even if you just go for a little 2-inch lift, your Jeep’s stance improves. Of course, you should upgrade your tire size as well, otherwise the result could be comedic.

 

Not only does a lift make your Jeep look more rugged, it serves a purpose. Once you install larger tires, your ground clearance increases, which is a huge benefit when off-roading. Just remember to watch out for rubbing between your tires and fenders/suspension components, since that can hurt articulation.

 

Some lift kits have beefed-up suspension components that are better suited for hardcore trail runs. Dealing with a blown shock is no fun, while having a disconnecting sway bar is.

 

Auxiliary Lighting

 

Basically, auxiliary lighting is any lights on the outside of your Jeep you can’t legally turn on while you’re traveling on the road. Thanks to LED technology, this type of modification has exploded. You can mount lights all over the place, including on the A-pillars, rear bumper, and roof rack.

 

Know that not all lights are created equal. You need to consider how much electrical draw your setup needs, because you don’t want it to strain your battery. Also find out about color temperature, how many lumens each light produces, and the beam pattern. All those factors affect performance in different ways.

 

Bumpers

 

Let’s face it, the factory bumpers on Jeeps aren’t the best, especially what you get with JKs. If you think you might encounter any obstacles to speak of, or you just want to make your Jeep look better, you have a huge array of aftermarket options. This may be one of the most common modifications out there, so be prepared to lose a few hours just perusing products.

 

Some points to consider is the construction of the bumper, which will be dictated by what kind of trail runs you might do. Also, look to see if a front bumper has light tabs, making it easier to mount auxiliary lighting, plus a winch mount. If you’re interested in bigger tires, or already have them, a stubby bumper doesn’t extend as far, and so it’s less likely to result in rubbing of any kind.

The Craziest Convertible Vehicles

The Craziest Convertible Vehicles

 

Convertibles offer a tremendous way to get in touch with nature, at least in one way. They’re wildly popular with people for that reason alone. With the top down, you’re always quite aware of the outside temperature and any precipitation, for better or worse.

 

While you might automatically think of sexy sports cars when someone says “convertible,” there are some rather interesting examples that go beyond that stereotype.

 

Ford F-150

 

No, this isn’t a production version of an F-150, but instead is the creation of Newport Convertible Engineering, or NCE for short. The company chopped the roof off a perfectly good pickup, then outfitted it with a power-folding soft top.

 

Usually you don’t associate pickups with convertibles for practical reasons. For example, the soft top folds up over part of the bed. That won’t work if you have anything in there. Of course, if you are hauling anything, whether the top is up or down, it doesn’t provide the same level of protection as a hard top, just in case you forget to tighten the load straps completely.

 

While this convertible pickup truck might not be entirely practical, it is cool and unique.

 

Yugo Cabrio

 

Yes, the vehicle that once was called the worst car in the world came in convertible form for a time. it didn’t sell super well, maybe because without a top, it made hiding your poor life decisions more difficult.

 

In general, people pointed out that the Yugo embodied everything that was wrong with communism. That may or may not be the case, but if you have ever driven one, you’ll know it’s truly a poor decision to make.

 

For a time, this car gained popularity with hip young folk. Eventually, they saw the errors of their ways, even though some poor souls are still trying to unload theirs for healthy sums.

 

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

 

Another vehicle you don’t normally associate with convertible tops is SUVs. Nissan decided to go out on a limb and make a convertible version of the Murano, called the CrossCabriolet.

 

This was a controversial move. One thing critics pointed out about the Murano CrossCabriolet is that instead of having four doors like a regular Murano, the vehicle only has two extremely long doors. Not dinging the car parked next to you becomes seriously challenging with this convertible.

 

Another thing: SUVs are supposed to provide some utility. When the top folds into what little cargo space you have, that kind of goes away. Finally, people in the backseat get hit with a ton of wind, because this is such a long convertible.

 

Despite its many flaws, the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet does have a dedicated cult following.

 

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible

 

Not only does this vehicle have one of the longer names out there, it’s another modern example of a convertible SUV. Pretty much the same flaws that apply to the Nissan apply to this thing. It looks marginally better, but that’s about the only real improvement.

 

What’s more, most people think of Land Rovers as being fairly capable off-roaders. If they didn’t realize the Evoque doesn’t fit that mold, the convertible version will definitely tip them off.

 

Reva Zephyr

 

India has quite the interesting, eclectic automotive market. One of the strangest things to come out of the Asian nation is its first convertible, called the Zephyr. Essentially, Reva took its G-Wiz, chopped off the roof, and outfitted with a soft top. The result is something resembling either a clown car, or a Power Wheels toy, or maybe a mix of the two.

 

Zimmer Golden Spirit

 

Back in the 1970s, Zimmer got the idea to use a Lincoln Towncar as the basis for a luxury convertible. The result was an incredibly strange topless land yacht, complete with an awkward roll bar and gaudy custom front end. Zimmer tried to channel the stately luxury cars of the 1920s, but failed miserably.

 

While the Golden Spirit lacked any kind of finesse or aesthetic beauty, you could at least have a butler drive you around in this car, while you lounge in the back and feel the breeze rustle through your hair.

 

How Autocross Will Make You a Better Driver

Who doesn’t want to become better at driving? Sure, there are some people who’re content to swerve back and forth between lanes while eating a jelly-filled donut and checking their email. But if you’re reading this, likely you’re not that person.

 

The better you are at driving, the more enjoyable it is. Excelling at something is fulfilling, especially if it’s something most others aren’t good at. Improving your driving skills will also keep you safer on the road. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one, or so goes the saying, and the same is true with dull driving skills.

 

Learning to autocross well will result in your becoming better at driving on the street.

 

Autocross Advantages

 

Getting involved in motorsports can be risky. The thing about Autocross is that you remove pretty much all the dangers of racing.

 

Since it’s done in big, open areas, you don’t need to worry about hitting a wall or barrier, like you do at a track. Sure, you might murder a few cones, but that’s all part of the learning process. They won’t damage your car, or endanger your life.

 

When you do autocross, it’s one car at a time. You don’t have to worry about crashing into other vehicles, or even swapping a little bit of paint.

 

Instead, the only real risk is that you overdrive and roll your car. As long as you don’t get too aggressive too quickly, that probably won’t happen.

 

What Autocross Teaches

 

You can learn many valuable lessons from autocross, which transfer over to how you drive on the road.

 

If you use your everyday car, you will learn its limits intimately. Of course, this may come with participating in a few autocross events. Over time, you’ll find if you push to go through a turn too quickly, or wait too long to brake, your car won’t respond the way you need, and you might hit some cones. It’s best to learn this in an environment where you’re not at risk of killing someone, including yourself.

 

You’ll learn more about understeer and/or oversteer than you could in many other ways. Short of going to a race track and dealing with the risks involved there, there are few other ways of learning how to manage understeer and/or oversteer with your vehicle. This has a real-world application, because you might find that you’re on a slippery road surface, or maybe on a dirt road, and start to feel the front or back end of your car break loose. If you autocross enough, you’ll know how to fix the problem immediately and effectively. Without that skill, you might be in for a big crash.

 

Autocross teaches you to not ride the brakes. If done properly, you learn the value of throttle control to slow your car down. You also learn to only apply the brakes when absolutely necessary. This helps to avoid brake fade, and it will make your brake pads and rotors last longer.

 

Instead of staring down the course in front of you, you must scan ahead with your eyes. Too many drivers on the road are guilty of staring at just one thing, when they should be concentrating on everything going on around them. This will make you more aware of dangers early on, so you can avoid bad situations with greater ease.

 

Overall, autocross teaches you to be precise in your driving maneuvers. You’re punished for being sloppy or rushing, because efficiency is everything. Too many people on the road today think they’re driving aggressively, when in actuality they’re driving sloppy, which is just downright dangerous. If you ever need to drive aggressively, autocross will give you the skills to do so, without being overly dangerous.

 

What You Will Need

 

Before you go autocross your car, you need to do a few things. First off, your vehicle needs to be in good shape, because you’ll be pushing it to the limits. Check all the fluids and refill anything that’s low. Look at your tire treads and ensure they’re not too worn, as well as the brake pads. Tighten all your wheel lug nuts to spec.

 

You can bring a helmet, although most car clubs provide them, but you might be a germaphobe and so will appreciate having your own. Definitely ask before you show up, just in case helmets aren’t provided. Some clubs might have specific rules, like how to mark your car, so ask about those as well.

Ways to Get Rid of Unpleasant Car Odors

2015 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.

The last thing you want is for people to climb in your car and gag. They might be diplomatic about it and not make a big deal, but rest assured they won’t be pleased. Such a situation is embarrassing, and it reflects poorly on you.

 

Even if the odor in your car isn’t your fault, you need to do something about it. Maybe the previous owner liked to store fish in the trunk, or had other disgusting habits. Whatever the cause, you need to correct the situation quickly, and fully. After all, you don’t want to remove the offending smells, only to have them come back full-force just days or weeks later.

 

Cabin Air Filter

 

Most people never think to change the cabin air filter in their car, even though it’s listed in the recommended maintenance. The filter, which is usually located behind the glove box, is designed to trap pollen, dirt, and even odors.

 

A dirty cabin air filter can just be blowing stinky smells around each time you turn on the AC or heater. By swapping it out for a fresh one, you can immediately improve things. While you’re at it, take a Q-tip and clean the air vents throughout the car, just to be thorough.

 

Junk in the Trunk

 

Garbage, sports equipment, clothing, food wrappers, drink containers, and other items left in your car can generate plenty of bad smells. Most people wouldn’t dream of leaving such things in their home, yet they barely have a second thought about doing it with their vehicle.

 

The solution is simple: go through your car and clear out all the clutter. It will look and smell much better.

 

Cleaning

 

Beyond just clearing out items, you need to clean your car’s interior regularly. Again, just like with your house, if you don’t clean it, the cabin will start to smell.

 

Get a vacuum and remove anything stuck in the carpet fibers, plus the seat creases and upholstery. If you don’t have automotive cleaners for the plastics and other materials, get some. Those surfaces smell from sitting in the heat and sunlight, plus getting everything from skin oils to dust on them. Also, clean the inside of all the windows. They fog up over time as the plastic in your car oxidizes, and that carries an unpleasant odor.

 

You can even clean the headliner, since it often traps odors. Just remember that the headliner is sensitive, so proceed with caution. Get a good carpet cleaner and spray it on a microfiber cloth or small paint brush. Dab the cleaner onto the headliner, scrubbing gently. Go back over everything with a dry microfiber cloth, again being careful to not push hard.

 

Baking Soda

 

One of the best odor removal agents out there is baking soda. Maybe you’ve put a box in your fridge and noticed an improvement overnight. The same can be true with your car.

 

As you drive along in the heat, you sweat. That becomes trapped in the seats. You walk through disgusting things on the ground, and then track them onto the vehicle carpeting or floor mats. These smells don’t leave easily.

 

After you’ve cleaned the interior, sprinkle baking soda on all the carpeting, floor mats (outside the car), and cloth upholstery. It’s ideal to let the baking soda sit overnight, so it soaks in as much of the smells as possible. In the morning, vacuum out the baking soda, taking the stench with it.

 

Keeping Smells Out

 

Obviously, staying on top of regular cleanings for your car helps greatly with keeping the odors from returning. Also, avoid leaving food, food wrappers, or open drink containers in the car.

 

Beyond cleaning and maintenance, you could get a moisture absorber product to leave in the car. This is especially helpful if you don’t drive much, which can lead to a musty stench.

Places to See Movie Cars

Love movies? Love cars? These are the places where you can see the vehicles that have starred in some classic films. If you live even remotely near any of these destinations, a road trip is definitely in order.

 

Petersen Automotive Museum

 

It only makes sense to visit an automotive museum in Los Angeles to see movie cars. The Petersen Automotive Museum is located on Wilshire Boulevard, right in the city’s Museum Row.

 

While you can see quite a few impressive cars in a building that used to be a department store, the real draw is the movie cars. Petersen swaps out exhibits often, but you can catch the likes of the DeLorean DMC12 from Back to the Future, Herbie the Love Bug, and even the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman movie.

 

Petersen will periodically play a clip behind each movie car, on a big screen. It shows the vehicle in a famous scene, so you get a sense for why it’s so famous and deserves to be there. That alone makes hanging out in the movie cars section worth the time.

 

Admittedly, the movie vehicles area is only a small portion of one of the museum’s floors. But kids will appreciate the second floor Cars discovery area. It features those lovable Pixar creations, and teaches them a thing or two about how automobiles work.

 

Voto Auto Museum

 

You probably don’t think of Illinois when it comes to movie cars, but it actually hosts one of the best collections around. As the name suggests, it’s located in the city of Volo, which is north of Chicago, about halfway to Milwaukee.

 

You get to explore over 33 unique exhibits, with a little something for everyone. Remember the Russian Duck, or car-boat thing from Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? It’s there. So is the 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STI form Fast & Furious 7, Batman’s Tumbler, the Flintstones car, and many more.

 

The museum is actually contained in 12 different buildings, so you have plenty to explore. That consumes two city blocks, ensuring you get plenty of exercise, too. If the weather’s nice, park-like outdoor areas make for a great way to unwind after seeing all the cars.

 

Hollywood Cars Museum

 

From the name, you’d expect this to be located at least near Hollywood, or in Southern California at the least. Instead, check this museum out when you hit the Strip in Las Vegas.

 

Inside, you’ll find 30,000 square feet of vehicles that are somehow tied to movies and TV shows. Some of the highlights include Robocop’s ride, the General Lee, K.I.T from Knight Rider, several Fast & Furious cars, and the Coffin Dragster used in The Munsters.

 

There are enough vehicles, that they represent over 100 movies and TV shows. Some zany customized vehicles, like a piano car, are also included just for good measure. All in all, the collection is valued at about $7 million.

 

Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum

 

If you’re in the South, head to Jackson, Tennessee to check out Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum. While it’s not the largest museum on this list, if you can’t get to the others, this one still delivers some pretty iconic rides.

 

The 25-plus cars include one of the General Lees from the Dukes of Hazard, the AMC Gremlin from Wayne’s World, Lightning McQueen, the Mystery Machine, and one of the Back to the Future DeLoreans.

 

As you might be able to tell, this museum was started by a guy named Rusty. He’s been hard at work, collecting interesting vehicles for almost a quarter of a century. His private collection has reached 35 vehicles, and is still growing.

 

 

Auto Detailing Techniques to Elevate Your Ride to the Next Level

Some people rarely wash their car. You always know who they are, because their ride just doesn’t impress in the least. While you might wash and wax often, likely you’re missing some important details. Those with truly critical eyes will notice, and maybe you have, too.

 

Before you throw in your wash towel, literally, try these tips. They’ll take your auto detailing skills to the next level, and your car with them.

 

Kick the Bucket

 

You’ve probably been told to use two buckets for washing your car. One’s for the soapy water, and one’s to rinse your sponge or whatever you’re using to scrub the car. While that’s better than using just one bucket, some of the dirt from the rinse bucket will transfer to the other, defeating the whole purpose.

 

Better, ditch buckets altogether. Wash different sections of the car, starting from the roof and working your way down. Wet the area down, apply soap to your wash mitt, then clean the area before rinsing it thoroughly. The result will be obvious, and this technique is faster, as well as less tedious.

 

Use the Cleaning Tool

 

Many automotive shops, and even some hardware stores sell these auto detailing tools. They look like a small rubber utility knife, at least in a way.

 

The idea is to use the rubber edge to reach where you normally can’t. One prime area is the panel gaps in the center console. Crumbs, dirt, and even skin cells like to gather there. Sure, you can try vacuuming that out, but that might scratch the plastic or leather. Plus, the cleaning tool is more thorough.

 

Sometimes the kits come with small brushes, too. Use these aids, and your interior will look far better for it.

 

Banish Hair

 

Getting rid of hair, whether it’s from pets or humans, can be tricky. The individual hairs often don’t all come out of carpeting or cloth upholstery, leaving at least some behind. The situation isn’t hopeless, if you have the right tools.

 

Likely, you’re just using a vacuum or your hands to do the dirty work. You’re going in the right direction with a hose, but you need something to loosen the hairs first. A pumice stone or rubber pet comb should do the trick. Even better, you can use them repeatedly, which you can’t do with tape or a sticky roller. Besides, this method yields better results.

 

Move the Seats

 

Surprisingly, people often keep their seats in the same positions, even when cleaning. If you do that, crumbs and other debris will gather under them, just like the floor beneath your fridge.

 

Scooting your seats all the way forward or back will reveal the filth underneath. It’s just another way to be more thorough with your detail efforts.

 

Follow Directions

 

There are many good cleaning products, including soaps and waxes. You might have your preferences, and that’s fine. Ultimately, no matter what you use, always follow the directions printed on the container. Disregarding them can at best not give you the best shine possible, and at worst ruin whatever you apply the product to.

Top Camera Rig Vehicles

When film crews need to take moving shots, they need a vehicle that’s up to the task. In the past, minivans have been default rig vehicles, but they come with numerous shortfalls. Sometimes crews will outfit a truck with a crane and other necessary gear, but that’s often because of a tight budget.

 

These are the vehicles crews use when they have the cash, and want the best.

 

Porsche Cayenne

 

This flashy SUV isn’t just about impressing people at the country club when you pull up. As a large and luxurious vehicle, it can easily handle a camera rig, even a large crane, without getting wobbly, which would mess up a shot. The wide track and heavy curb weight keeps everything firmly planted.

 

Also, the Cayenne is famous for being not only powerful, but also quick. It can keep up with sports cars, so if you need to film a quick chase scene, a vehicle whipping around a track, or whatever else, the SUV can handle the task.

 

Large brakes mean even with all that extra equipment, including a camera and large rig, the vehicle can stop quickly. After all, you don’t want to risk crashing, damaging your gear and possibly injuring anyone riding inside.

 

Speaking of people riding in the Cayenne, Porsche designed the SUV with loads of interior space. Considering you might have the cameraman, director, crane operator, driver, or any number of other people in it, with additional equipment crammed into the cabin, that’s super helpful as well.

Porsche Panamera

 

It might be the most controversial modern Porsche, and the second Porsche on this list, but the Panamera has become a favorite of some camera crews.

 

Chase Car has famously modified the four-door hatchbacks to make them even more practical than the Cayenne. It’s still fast and stable like the other Porsche, but the unique rear layout adds another dimension, and extra utility.

 

With the Cayenne, some crane operators complain that they can’t see well enough out the back. Chase Car builds a bubbled safety glass canopy on the hatch portion of the Panamera. This allows the crane operator to see well all around the car, remedying the problem.

Mini Cooper

 

Another car known for its stability, the Mini Cooper has also won over camera crews. It really shines because of a compact shape, enabling it to squeeze into more confined spaces so you can get that perfect shot not possible with a larger vehicle, such as filing in a parking garage.

 

Minis are also known to be surprisingly quick, as well as agile. That comes in handy if a crew needs to film a subject that’s moving quickly and changing directions often.