Wheeling for Cheap

There are nearly an unlimited number of ways to fund your four wheeling habit. Unfortunately, whether it’s an extra job, over time, or whatever it often keeps you away from working on your ride. Very few of us are lucky enough to have a few hundred to a few grand a month to put toward upgrades and fixes. I don’t have the silver bullet or magic snake oil for sale but I can share what has helped me keep the transfer case engaged for far less than expected.

Drive a Cost Effective Rig
For starters you should not be wheeling with your 2012 vehicle that you’re making payments on and that you drive daily. The very fact that you have payments probably means there is less cash free to burn on fixing stuff. You inherently break things when you take them any place more extreme than work and the grocery store. New vehicle parts are expensive because the aftermarket may still be developing. Also, junk yards hold fewer new vehicles. On the flip side, a solid used rig of 10, 20 or even 30 years in age will be cheaper up front and to maintain. Jeeps are plentiful as are Chevy and Ford pickups and SUVs. Decide what your wheeling ambitions are and shop around for relevant parts even before you buy the vehicle. Personally, I found Chevy engine parts to be the least expensive. They are also cheap to buy springs for since leafs are much cheaper than coils. Jeeps, on the other hand, have more suspension options for someone looking to get into serious rock crawling. A coil 4-link for my Chevy would easily out price a similar setup on a Jeep.

When in Doubt, Part Something Out!
Parting out vehicles the same make and similar model and year is a great way to get parts you need while selling things you don’t. You’re probably not going to make a mint but it’s a help for sure. For example, I recently bought a ¾ton Chevy pickup with a failed engine. I paid 400 bucks. The truck did have, however, a corporate 14 bolt and a Dana 44 that I was looking for. The typical price of these items? Around 300 for the pair. This is the part where it gets fun: the truck had a plow frame, I sold that for 100. The transmission is a TH400. NICE. I run a manual trans so it was for sale and sold for 200. Lights, fenders, rear window and other small goodies totaled another hundred fully covering the cost of the truck. Finally, I sold the junk engine, frame and body as scrap for close to another 100. I made 100 bucks and got a 300 dollar set of axles, see how that works? You may have noticed my prices are fairly modest. I often sell stuff to people I ‘wheel with. I try to treat them well and they do the same for me. I justify my wheeling expenses, rather than actually profit.

Buy Used
To build off of the previous idea you want to buy used stuff whenever possible. I’m not talking about cutting corners but rather being practical. Used parts are dirt cheap compared to new stuff. Let’s reexamine my previous example with the axles: A pair would be a few hundred bucks used but several thousand new. Also, if you buy used stuff from a friend you help them fund their projects. It’s a win-win, right?

There are really a lot of different ways to save big on your ‘wheeling projects and I know I have only touched on a few here. I have opened up section in the forum for everyone to chat further about ways to keep wheeling when the funding tapers off. Let me know what you thought of this article there as well! You can get to the discussion HERE!


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