Pimp My Ute: A guide to ute modification
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When it comes to modifying vehicles, utes are something that New Zealanders are well-versed in.
Thanks to our country’s “number eight wire” mentality, farmers and tradies alike across the country have been personalising their workhorses for decades, installing parts that help with their day-to-day life.
Ute modification looks a little different these days, with mud tyres, big wheels and fender flares being the current trend. In reality, the sky is the limit.
Though there are thousands of options on the market, we’ll be focusing on the most popular modifications in this article.
Over the years, we have seen the switch from low-slung Australian-built utes to the modern high-riding 4x4 examples take place. This means that upgrading a ute’s off-road prowess has taken priority over performance upgrades and the majority now opt for wheels and tyres for the first upgrade.
There are hundreds of wheel and tyre options on the market right now, but achieving a “tough” stance while also remaining within the road rules is the challenge that most owners face.
Though not everyone is trying to create a “monster truck” out of their double-cab workhorse, fitting a set of decent all-terrain tyres can prove to be troublesome without a set of fender flares that extend the factory guards.
Just like any other car, the correct wheel and tyre combination can drastically improve a ute’s performance both on-road and off-road and should strongly be considered as the first modification.
Aside from a ute’s shoes, there’s a plethora of upgrades available that can improve functionality as well as looks.
Starting at the more practical end of the spectrum, LED light bars seem to be at the forefront of lighting products.
In the past, high-powered spotlights were a no-brainer for anyone looking to improve visibility in the dark, but in recent years these sleek, efficient units have taken over the market. Light bars can take pride of place on the roof or bonnet of the vehicle, or discreetly slip into the lines of the grille.
If you’re planning to venture where most double-cabs won’t go, a lift kit and a snorkel might be necessary. Historically, these modifications have been at the forefront of ute upgrades but, thanks to the high-riding nature of modern models, aren’t a priority any more.
When it comes to protecting the tray, there are a number of liner options to choose from. Most opt for a dense polyurethane compound such as a “Tuf Dek”, thanks to its incredible durability.
Other options include rubber mats and polypropylene liners that can minimise damage to fragile cargo while being transported.
Running boards, nudge bars and sports bars are all modifications that will mostly add to the ute’s off-road aesthetic but can also be functional.
While some manufacturers might include these parts upon sale, you’ll mostly be turning to the aftermarket to source those.
It is worth noting that any significant modifications will require an LVVTA certification, so make sure to check before starting a shopping list.