3 Ways to Customize your Pickup for Utility, Performance and Style
For many Canadians, when purchasing their first family car these days it’s a pickup. Because of that, modern pickup trucks have morphed into something more comfortable, more luxurious and more drivable than ever before. But there are still ways to customize a pickup and make it your own.
For the most part, pickup customization falls into three categories — utility, performance and appearance.
Utility customization makes the truck more useful, often because it faces tough conditions or tough tasks. A lot of the popular items focus on the truck’s bed. There are bed liners to protect the bed’s surface from scrapes and indents and there
are bed covers to protect it and its contents from the elements or prying eyes. Similarly, you can buy a lockable bed compartment that acts very much like a car’s trunk, but still leaves plenty of more easily accessible cargo room.
Also popular are steps, which can make life with a full-sized pickup a lot easier. They can take the form of running boards, nerf bars or hitch steps. All of them are useful for climbing into the cab or reaching into the bed, and they range from utilitarian black-anodized metal coated in rubber to flashy in chrome.
Other customizers add things like bigger side mirrors, grille guards and mudflaps to help protect their investment when it’s faced with tough conditions.
As far as performance is concerned, I’m not one to monkey around with what the engineers have worked so hard on, but many are. Cold-air intakes — which promise more power through denser, cooler air — are very popular aftermarket add-ons; as are less restrictive exhausts and custom air filters. Even if they add a horse or two, their additions have a tendency to void warranties, so I avoid them.
A much less risky way to have your pickup stand out is to change its appearance. A lot of customizers go first for bigger, more expressive tires and wheels, and they can require other parts like bold-on fender flares or, if you want to go whole hog, a beefier suspension package. Of course if your truck never leaves the pavement, you’ll want very different tire and wheel combinations than if it’s slogging it out in places where the roads are dirt or if there are no roads at all.
Many customizers these days have a marked fondness for chrome, especially when it’s matched to luxurious, heavily lacquered paint jobs. Almost any part of a modern pickup can be, and often is, chromed with many customizers choosing the differential, the trailer hitch and components within the engine bay.
And a custom pickup would be incomplete without changes to the interior. Gone are the days of fuzzy dice, replaced by racing seats, huge speakers and woofers and an array of lights and electronic devices.
Customizing a pickup is a personal decision — one that will cost lots of money and time. But still, it’s a great way to put your own mark when buying your first car – something that will be a big part of your life for a long time.
Jerry Langton is the author of four national bestsellers. He has also written for some of the best-known publications in North America. His work has appeared in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, National Post, The Hamilton Spectator, Maclean’s, CBC.ca, The Daily News, The Star-Ledger, Yahoo!, MSN.ca and dozens of others.