All you need is a single ride in a 4X4 vehicle to understand the appeal of owning one, but if you’re new to the world of off-roading, you’ll need to do some research about the right vehicle for your lifestyle. While Jeeps are a go-to for the adventurous, it’s important to understand that there are plenty of other carmakers who have 4X4s vehicles in their lineups — we want to help you find the perfect fit.
The definition of a 4X4 vehicle is one that has four-wheel drive, where the engine sends equal power to all four wheels at the same time. Different from all-wheel drive, 4X4s offer on-demand modes to help adjust to off-road terrain after highway driving; this is a great feature for drivers who are looking for a versatile vehicle.
However, you should be considering different options if you’re wanting to use your 4X4 for rock climbing, trail riding, or mountain climbing and not highway road trips. Ask yourself this question:
“How do I want to use my 4X4?” The answer will help narrow down your choices and give dealers a better idea of what you’re looking for.
You’re also not limited to new vehicles. If your dream 4X4 is a brand-new model decked out with features, by all means, go for it, but if your budget is limited, you’ll be able to find a used vehicle in good condition. One bonus of going this route: You can mod out your used 4X4 vehicle to become that decked out off-roader of your dreams.
Before jumping into the research and buying process, you’ll need to know which factors matter the most when looking over a 4X4 vehicle.
This is probably the most crucial place to start. The size and makeup of the engine will determine how well it performs off-road. Take a look at torque and horsepower, if it’s turbocharged, and how many cylinders it has — more means better power but increased maintenance.
If you’re buying used, look closely at the spark plugs. Clean, dry, in-tact spark plugs mean that the 4X4 has been maintained and treated well. Steer clear of any residue or damage; that could mean serious problems elsewhere in the vehicle and become a much costlier investment than you had imagined.
Start up the car and see what smoke comes out if any. If it’s white, that could mean that your 4X4 may have a coolant leak. If it’s black, there’s an issue with the fueling system, and blue smoke shows that the vehicle is burning oil and needs to be inspected further.
If you’ve ever had to replace the transmission in any kind of vehicle, you know how expensive it can be. When you test drive a 4X4, look for any jerking when you shift through gears and noises. Gears should shift easily and quietly.
Brakes and Steering
This is important to check on any vehicle you’re interested in buying, but especially for a 4X4 vehicle you’re thinking of taking on the trails. Sticky, spongy brakes are a problem, as is inconsistent, pulling, or stiff steering. These are sure signs that the 4X4 wasn’t well maintained or properly repaired.
Either take the 4X4 for a mechanic’s inspection before purchasing or get under the vehicle with a flashlight. Look for cracks and rust; it can spread like wildfire and exist on the car where you can’t see it. Springs, shocks, and bushings also need to be inspected as well.
Mileage and Value
Even if you’re not planning on selling any time soon, a 4X4 is still an investment. High mileage on an off-road vehicle is much different than the same mileage on a highway driver — and it will be higher when you’re done with it. Brand, model, and features will also impact resale value for your 4X4.
If you’re really interested in taking your 4X4 to the next level, you’ll want to mod it out to fit your needs. You should be able to mod out your new vehicle without having to invest in structural or engine repairs to get the installation right.
Ready to hit the road in a new-to-you 4X4? Whether you want to drive on rocky terrains, muddy trails, or a paved road, Axleboy is here to transform your vehicle. From a comprehensive consultation to installation, we do it all. Contact us if you’re ready to have your 4X4 customizations done by the most skilled and honest team in town.