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What Mods Should I Do to My Truck First?

Buying a truck isn’t a cheap decision, nor is adding mods. But owning a truck is necessary for outdoor enthusiasts who love to venture off-road or for construction managers who haul heavy loads. When you make that kind of purchase, you also want to consider other accessories and upgrades to protect your investment. We’ll share several truck mods worth considering to increase performance, protect the exterior and interior, and enhance the driving experience. Let’s dive in.

What Are Truck Mods?

Truck mods are modifications or accessories that will increase performance, enhance safety, or better the ride. Some accessories keep the truck cleaner or protect valuables locked inside. Other truck mods enhance towing or off-roading. How you use your vehicle will determine what you’ll want to purchase.

Easy Upgrades to IMPROVE Your Truck's Look and Feel!

What Are the Pros and Cons of Truck Mods?

Whenever you add truck mods, you invest more money in the vehicle that you might not get back. For example, adding a tonneau cover will cost a few hundred dollars. When it comes time for you to resell the vehicle, it’s not likely that the tonneau cover will add much to the sale. The accessories you add and modifications you make benefit yourself, but may not yield a high return.

It might also hurt you in the long run when trying to resell the vehicle. Potential buyers may not like the LED light bar or the lift kit you spent thousands of dollars on. So they may pass on purchasing the truck because of the mods.

However, you’ll likely enjoy your vehicle more and feel safer. Having running boards to help you and your passengers get in and out of the car is convenient. Adding specialty tires can better protect your truck if off-roading or dry camping. Some of these truck mods are very expensive, so you’ll have to weigh the cost versus the benefit and decide if they’re worth it.

Pro Tip: Some mods should be skipped, like this one that leaves Truck Owners Divided Over Rolling Coal.

Person holding hammer in front of black truck
Depending on how you use your truck on a daily basis, certain modifications will or will not add big benefits.

12 Truck Mods to Make Your Pickup Even Better

Below are 12 truck mods to improve your driving experience. They range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The type, quality, and brand will also make a difference in pricing. Some are truck mods you can do yourself, while others you’ll want a professional to install. Let’s take a look, and then you can decide what you want to start with first.

1. Specialty Tires

If you’re planning on using your truck for anything other than daily driving, consider trading out the standard tires and installing specialty ones. If you plan on driving on uneven or rocky terrain to go camping or towing or hauling often, make this change sooner rather than later.

Specialty tires are expensive, but they improve performance and protect your truck. You’re less likely to have a blowout, and some tires increase fuel efficiency.

Pro Tip: Doing some mods to your wheels? Find out Are Wheel Spacers Safe? The Truth About Wide Trucks.

2. Cool-Air Intake

Cooler air means more horsepower. By adding a cool-air intake, you move the airbox farther from the engine bay to pull in cool air rather than hot engine air. Cooler air is more oxygen-dense than warmer air, which means a stronger reaction in the engine. 

Cool-air intakes also come with upgraded air filters, allowing for better airflow. Install this truck mod if you want to protect your engine and transmission while increasing performance. It’ll also keep your fluids cooler, which decreases the typical wear and tear on your vehicle.

Black lifted Tundra truck parked in parking lot by mountains.
If you enjoy off-roading or overlanding, consider modifying your truck with a lift kit.

3. Lift Kit

Lift kits can make your truck look intimidating. But it has other benefits to installing this modification. A body lift kit raises the body so you can install larger tires.

A suspension lift kit raises the frame and body to prevent the typical squatting when braking or accelerating. If you drive on uneven terrain, consider this truck mod. It might even be essential depending on what type of specialty tires you install.

Pro Tip: Want to use your truck to tow your RV? We uncovered if it is safe to Tow an RV with a Lifted Truck.

4. Heavy-Duty Hitch

If you have no intentions of towing, then a heavy-duty hitch isn’t a necessary truck mod. But most people buy a truck to transport trailers, campers, or boats. Investing in a heavy-duty hitch gives you durability and reliability.

They absorb jarring and vibrations better than standard ones to increase comfortability and handling while driving. It also reduces strain on the towing system.

5. LED Light Bar

Sometimes truck owners install an LED light bar because it looks cool. But others add this accessory because they need the additional light. If you go off-road, exploring remote areas with limited lighting, you’ll want to install an LED light bar.

By having more light, you can better protect yourself and your passengers. Because light bars come in various lengths, colors, and illuminations, you can choose what works best for you.

Close up of an LED lightbar installed on a truck
Make night time driving easier by installing an LED light bar on your truck.

6. Tonneau Cover

You can find a tonneau cover for every need, from retractable or folding to roll up or heavy-duty. RealTruck even has a cover plus rack and a cover plus toolbox options.

If you transport equipment or tools in your bed, invest in a tonneau cover. It locks to protect from theft and weather. Plus, these truck mods can keep your bed liner clean.

HOLDLAMP Fog Machine, 1200W and 6000CFM Smoke...
  • Powerful Fog Machine:Radio remote control available for remote...
  • Led light Effect: Fog machine with 6 RGB LEDs that illuminate and...
  • Wireless Remote Control: Equipped with a wireless remote handle...

7. Running Boards

Running boards provide an easy step-up into the vehicle for shorter passengers. They can especially help get kids in and out easier. They also protect your truck from debris hitting the doors or scratching the side panels from kicked-up gravel. Running boards also help keep the interior clean. You can wipe off your feet before getting in.

8. Heavy-Duty Bumper

First, you’ll want to install a heavy-duty bumper if adding a winch. A winch won’t do you much good if it rips off your bumper the first time you use it. This truck mod can also protect your vehicle from deer or wildlife hitting your car.

Spending some money on a bumper will save you more money on repairs later. This truck mod will give you more capability and protection when on the road.

Pro Tip: Find out why you may want to add fender flares to your overland truck.

Close up on heavy duty truck bumper on truck while off roading
If you need to use your winch, you’ll be glad you modified your truck bumper to a more heavy duty option.

9. Bed Liner

There are two main truck bed liners: a spray-in and a drop-in bed liner. A spray-in bed liner is permanent and better protects the truck bed from water or dirt getting trapped between the liner and the bed. It also can’t break or fall out. 

However, this type costs more than a drop-in liner. A drop-in liner tends to be thicker, and you can easily replace it if damaged. Either kind of these truck mods works better than none. When sliding lumber, piping, or equipment into the bed, ensure it won’t scratch or dent the surface.

U-POL Raptor Tintable Urethane Spray-On Truck Bed...
  • Easy To Use: Tint - Add Hardener - Shake - Spray
  • Enough Material To Re-Spray The Largest Truck Beds
  • Abrasion And Stain Resistant

10. Floor Mats

Floor mats are also great truck mods to keep the interior clean. If your child drops a bag of chips on the floor, you can simply pick up the floor mat and dump the chips in the trash can rather than getting out a vacuum.

The waterproof nature of many floor mats also protects your truck from spills and rain. Cleaning up and maintaining a clean interior is much easier with floor mats. Just measure correctly before purchasing. Additionally, clean floors and interiors can have better resale value.

Pro Tip: Need a new floor mat? We found the 7 Best Truck Floor Mats for Keeping Your Truck Looking Like New.

Truck with truck toolbox parked at campsite.
Keep your truck bed organized by adding a toolbox to your truck bed.

11. Tool Box

Although a truck toolbox will take up space in your truck bed, this truck mod works great for owners who transport lots of gear. Having a toolbox in the bed rather than the backseat or cab leaves room to store other items or space for additional passengers.

You can get ones that attach to the rear or sides of the bed so they won’t slide around. Plus, the durability better protects the tools and equipment inside. Check out RealTruck’s toolbox selection and get an 8% discount.

truck tool box

12. Winch

If you plan on off-roading with your truck, a winch is necessary. Hopefully, you never have to use it. But if you may find yourself in those kinds of situations, you want to be prepared. Especially if you travel alone, a winch will give you peace of mind.

Just remember to install a heavy-duty bumper as mentioned above. Hitting the mud and sand is fun and adventurous. But be prepared and smart by adding a winch to your truck’s bumper.

Close up on truck bumper with installed winch.
When in a pinch, you’ll be glad you modified your truck to have a winch!

What Truck Mods Add Horsepower?

As mentioned above, cool air is more oxygen dense. Thus, a cool-air intake adds horsepower to your engine. If you want to increase performance, install this truck mod. It also helps the engine run more efficiently, reducing maintenance and repair costs.

Some vehicles can be tuned for more power as well. There are many popular engine turners available that just plug in, but they may void any warranty on the drivetrain.

Pro Tip: Make your truck waterproof in all bodies of water by Exploring the Depths: A Guide to Snorkeling with Trucks.

Because many truck owners don’t haul heavy equipment or venture off-road, the most popular truck accessories are the ones non-specific to these types of activities. Many people add floor mats, bed liners, and tonneau covers because everyone can benefit from these truck mods. They protect the interior and exterior of the vehicle, making them well worth the initial investment.

Think A One Ton Truck Is Big Enough? What Are The Differences And Why You Might Want A 550 or 5500?
Check out some of the mods we did on our overland truck.

Are Truck Mods Worth It?

Depending on how you plan on using your truck, some or all of these truck mods are worth it. These modifications will help owners increase performance, add protection, and enhance safety for owners seeking adventure. The daily truck driver may not need a winch or an LED light bar, but you may benefit from adding a toolbox or running boards.

So what kind of truck owner are you? Will you add any of these truck mods soon? Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Joey

Wednesday 14th of December 2022

Why are brakes not on here? As soon as you change the tire, shouldn't you also change the brakes? Stock brakes are not meant to handle any modifications.

Ross Herzog

Monday 11th of July 2022

Hi I enjoy your blog and find it very informative and I’ve learned a lot. I have a question, I have a 2003 DodgeRam 3500 that I pull a 30 ft 5th wheel with. Which would help in pulling my 5th wheel better? Air bags or hydraulics suspension and can I add hydraulic to my truck? Which would give me a better ride when not pulling my 5th wheel? Please help me gain a greater knowledge on both of these. Thanks for all your help.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 28th of August 2022

By hydraulic, do you mean the liquid spring system? That is a very expensive system and personally, I don't think it would be worth it for your application. Air bags are a cheap way to improve ride height and we have installed them on every truck we have had. The hydraulic option is best for a truck that is carrying weight all the time like an ambulance or overland conversion truck.