New Gear

#1
Hi guys.

I joined this forum because I'm looking for some honest unbiased advice regarding 4wd gear/equipment rather than discussing this with a sales person who will be sure to "help" me choose the most expensive stuff in his shop.

I just got a quote back from TJM here in perth who quoted me just under 11K$ for a bull bar, suspension kit/lift kit, light kit, UHF radio, rhino rack/roof rack pioneer platform, a 2nd AUX battery with the wiring to the back, and a set of max trax and snatch straps. My budget was nowhere near that, and my research on the 4wd supacenter did not prepare me for such a ridiculous valuation/quote.

So my question to you guys is this: what is the difference....objectively....in terms of reliability, longevity, functionality...etc....between a light kit for 300$ on the 4wd supacenter, and the light kit for 2200$ that was put on my quote. What's the difference between a rhino rack platform for 1200$ installed (including the various accessories and attachments i wasn't aware were "required") and the 300$ steel tradie rack I see on the supacenter. What's the difference in performance between a UHF radio for 200$ and the 600$ one (with gps and bluetooth...etc...) that is on my quote. I can even attach the quote if you guys want to have a look.

When I ask a sales person the difference, the generic answer I get back is "our gear is just better". but what does that mean? and is that true? I am the sort of person that is ok to spend the money if it's good gear and it's going to last, but I don't NEED the top of the line gear just so my max trax look fancy sitting on the side of my 1200$ platform while I'm parked at coles you know?


Background: completely new to 4wd-ing, so a total noob when it comes to all this. I have a job that works me 5 or 5.5 days per week so realistically I can only get out for weekend trips....1-2 nights max. I do the majority, if not all of my 4wd-ing during the day, and when the sun starts to go down I'm looking for somewhere to camp. No need to drive in the pitch dark and turn night time to day time with 1,000,000 lumen lights....and I'm mostly on sand tracks, beach driving, sand dunes....etc...i'm not winching up 90 degree rock faces. I don't need to tow multi-ton trailers or strap 1000's of kg's to my roof.....we have a couple kayaks we want to bring out with us, but otherwise the roof racks are just going to be for larger items I don't want inside the vehicle like the max tracks, shovels, longboards/surfboards/paddleboards....etc....nothing too heavy.

Thank you for any advice you may have in advance!
 

silkwood

Well-Known Member
#2
Hi C.A.M. Confusing isn't it? Two main points:
1.what do you need and why and when do you need it? Figure out what is most important for you (there are a number of posts where people argue/discuss politely what gear is most essential). Also, don't go buying gear which looks good on the 4by if you won't use it for the next two years. Most would suggest winching points and underbody protection may be the first best options, but many would beg to differ. You'll find a compressor invaluable after a while.

You'll find lots of suggestions regarding the leisure side of things (fridges, batteries etc) in posts here, along with more than enough opinions to go with those posts! (PS: don't mention dc-dc vs vsr, please!)

2. Sometimes gear is better, sometimes not. Often it is not necessarily better FOR YOU! For instance, if, like me, you tend to avoid night driving in the bush, why get more than the basic lighting which will do the job? If there is a rare occasion where you get caught out, drive more slowly and cautiously.

Sometimes it is worth paying more. If for occasional or intermittent use, there are some good selections of gear at places like supercheap, 4x4 Superstore, Ebay and don't forget Aldi! Hindsight is a wonderful thing, you may find yourself purchasing a budget tent because you don't think you'll use it often, only to find six months later you have the bug and are heading out at every available opportunity! If you plan on using something regularly, consider paying a little extra for quality (make sure you're not just paying for marketing though). Keep in mind things like roof racks may be more expensive because it is harder to engineer something light yet strong. Putting a steel roof-rack on you vehicle can severely limit what you can put ON that roof rack.

Best advice is do what you are doing (asking questions here) and get out with some experienced people if possible (even if you are an unsociable bastard like me!). The "Information for newbies" section is a good place to start.

Cheers,

Mark
 
#3
My advise is to shop around and buy things individually. Work out what you can do for yourself and what you can't.

There is quite a delta in quality on some items from say an ARB and say 4wd Supacentre but sometimes there really isn't so you have to pick your mark and sometimes it doesn't matter if the quality of an item isn't so great and then there are others where your life could depend on it.

In terms of gear I'd happily use from Supacentre the Dominator Winch, Awning + Side walls, Drag Chain, Titan Drawers, Roof Rack knowing they aren't the best but they also aren't bad and if they fail after a while it's not the end of the world.

I'd absolutely learn about 12v aux battery setups and do it yourself, you want to know how to fix it in the bush and where the fuses are. Don't get someone to do this for you and don't cheap out on components but also understand you don't need a DCDC charger if done right and that will save you a lot.

I personally don't feel any need for spotlights or light bars, not an item I have ever needed. Come dusk I want to be tucking up next to the fire with a Vodka in my hand. I suppose if you get away late after work on a Friday and are getting to camp in the dark they are a good idea, but I would I'd not go over board and I would pick one over the other.

To start out with just buy a decent 5w handheld radio, Uniden make some great Tradies packs that will do well for a long time. I love my GME XRS 330 uhf in the car but I still take my 2 5w handhelds on every trip.

I would do the suspension dead last, so you know your weight and what type of springs you need and don't need to go over board there a lots of good middle of the road 2" lift kits these days from the likes of Outback Armour and co. Decent tyres will get you a lot further and not an item you can skimp on.

If you are all about practicality over looks just do the best deal you can on a winch mount bullbar, heck you can probably find a decent second hand one.

If you want a drive in drive out service you will pay a large premium and not get the best result anyway as no one vendor sells the best item in every category. Take your time, be selective and just talk to people. If you can look over the builds on different websites people are doing for ideas and you will start to see things you like or don't like.

It's quite okay for a build to take years.
 

Neil Watts

Active Member
#4
For what it's worth, have a look at this;

agree with most that has been said but from my own experience buy the best you can afford where suspension is concerned.Tyres are equally as important as these two items are what keeps you in contact with the road/track surface. I suggest doing a bar and winch from the get if you can afford it that way you can tune suspension package to suit. Other bolt ons can be done on the go, for the time being just get roof bars. The platform racks are dead flat and a little awkward for surfboards due to the bottom curve (not flat). Lights can be added later as the addiction takes hold but driving at night is so much easier with the right lighting. Happy shopping!
 

Choook

Well-Known Member
#5
Some sage advice from @silkwood and @idiomatically and I'm gunna throw my 2c worth in as well.

You've said you drive on sand mostly and like to carry boards and kayaks, etc. So that would be my starting point. Look for a rack that suits and if you can afford the alloy/aluminium then that is always a better weight option. This gives you somewhere for your kayaks, maxtrax, shovel and other bulky items. Tyres - if your vehicle has come with an HT tread pattern then an upgrade to a decent AT would be advised and if you are inclined to frequent mud holes then go for a MT pattern. You will also require a compressor and tyre guage/deflator to adjust tyre pressures, a must for sand driving.

Sand driving comes with it's perils and some decent recovery points and your own recovery gear, i.e. snatch strap and shackles (soft or bow) at a minimum is pretty much a requirement. Some people have reservation about using their own kit to recover someone else.

The above will get you out and about and from there it is a case of talking to others and seeing what they have and then research, research, research both reviews and pricing. Not all the best gear has three letters attached. As stated wait on the suspension until you have decided whether you are going to run bullbar and winch, rear drawers, what size fridge, etc and get the system to suit. As with anything the more you can do yourself the more money you save and the more you know about your vehicle.

Happy modding, it's fun, addictive, continuous and expensive.
 

Hoyks

Well-Known Member
#6
I too can't afford to fit everything to a new vehicle when I get it.

I like to get middle of the range gear, better (hopefully) quality, so I'd hope it lasts longer than the cheap stuff but not paying through the nose for extra 'features' I'd never use or a novelity for a few minutes.

Some of my 4WD recovery gear is over 20 years old, but the gear I got was reasonable quality, has lasted well and is now stashed in its 4/5th 4WD. With this stuff I got it when I had the $$ and to fill gaps in my recovery capability, rather than buying what the salesman told me I needed.
I started with a shovel, tyre gauge and a rope. Rope was ditched in favour of a snatch strap and some shackles. I got a hand operated cable winch (Tirfor) and a snatch block. Cable wasn't long enough for some situations, so an extension strap and more shackles were added. Bought my 1st 4WD in 94 and only got an electric winch last year, so nice but not essential, they just let you do dumb stuff with less sweat. I added some extra snatch straps and bags and stuff through eBay end of stock clearances.

Lights, I like lights as the stock ones are generally not real flash and I work night shifts.
I get by with some good halogen lights I got in a TJM clearance sale and a light bar I got free with the winch. The human eye adapts surprisingly well to variations in available light, so even doubling the light output from a light bar and paying 4x the price, you'd be hard pressed to pick the difference from behind the wheel, although the reflectors are probably better, but 4 x the $$ better? Mounts on the other hand are worth the extra, get good solid mounts and housings so they don't rattle to bits, but not so solid that they shake more.

UHF Radios, 5W is 5W, most are capable of more but are restricted by law, so aren't overly stressed and do the job. New ones have a lot of features and the option for remote heads, but if you just want to chat to a mate 5km up the road, then a cheap UHF will do the job.

Bull bar, Optional. I got one because it gives a better approach angle without scratching the plastic bumper and I got it cheap (a few marks, so 1/2 the price). Heavy, so you use more fuel, but it gives you somewhere to hang a winch.

Tow bar, I like them as they give you a rear recovery point, tie the rear of the chassis together a bit better and provide some extra protection when dropping down rock steps.
 

sharkcaver

Well-Known Member
#8
You haven't mentioned what vehicle we are talking about here. That can have an inpact. Case in point, my bar is 1/2 the price of my neighbours - different vehicles but same bar manufacturer.

You gave a shop a clean slate to offer the best of the best, and they willingly obliged.

I don't think there is much in price difference between quality bars. There are cheaper variants and that may have an impact when you need it most.

Suspension, well that is a whole different ball game. There is cheap and there is expensive. A lot comes down to your usage. Personally speaking, if you are just doing a bit of sand work, then middle of the road is probably more than sufficient. I put expensive suspension on mine and 2.5 years later, I have binned it. You get what you pay for is not always correct. research, research, research and try to read between the lines is my advice.

$2200 bucks for lights.....I'm laughin. Unless you are night driving on a regular basis, why would you. It cracks me up, Some people put so many dollars into lights.....and whats the first thing that goes when you hit something? Now I'm not saying that good expensive lights aren't worth it (consider if it saves you one animal strike), but there is no way I could justify that cost. Again, research - and trial and error - comes into play. If you cant wire these yourself, you could but something decent and pay an auto leccy to fit. You will save a motza over the $2200 quote and possibly have better lighting anyway. I have some 7" cheapie leds and a cheap lightbar. Its not super duper, but then again I don't night drive often enough to warrant more. They are sufficient for most times I hit the bitumen at night. They haven't failed over thousands of K's of corro's, so the light mounts can be discounted.

Rhino rack, well you get gouged for the name alone. But its quality gear. When you see how some of the cheap stuff ends up, then sometimes it's worth the extra for quality. I offer no comment on the tradie rack you mention. First thing I did on myne was to remove the oem rails and fit rhino trackmount. Not a cheap option, but I travel in the rough often. I know the weakness of my vehicle and I wasn't going to rely on the oem rails. The price you mention seems on par, again not knowing what vehicle we are discussing here. A bit of beach work occasionally, you may well have no issue with the tradie rack. Noting its not just the rack, but the mounting system that needs to count and that can be vehicle dependant.

The difference in performance of a top of the wazza uhf and a budget one is bugger all - if we are talking the same aerial on both. I have had top of the wazza and never used any of the features. All I do is talk to others on the bloody thing. So this time around, I went budget. And I haven't missed a thing, cause all I do is talk on it.

As I said earlier, you gave them a clean slate to upscale their sale. I'm not surprised. As to the comment "our gear is just better", that is just salesman fluff. They are reselling other peoples gear. They may have a point on the bar, which is proprietary to TJM, the rest is just salesman BS.

I offer some pieces of advice below.

1. Get out there and see what others use. Does what they have meet your needs?

2. Is what others use well over the top for what you plan to do. Taking into account potential future uses.

3. Do your research before parting with cash. I note you are starting to do that by asking here.

4. Do you need the surperfelous fluff of all the bells and whistles, or will lowering your standard still meet your needs?

5. Go back to TJM and let them know the quote is way over the top. Get them to substitute top of the wazza for gear that will fulfill your needs.

6. If not proprietary gear, I suggest you could buy all the rest from other sources, cheaper, even paying for fitting elsewhere if that's not your thing, and you will save a motza.

If you are like me, you will save. Sometimes you get it wrong and you pay again. But in the long run, I still save and gain some education in the process.

Good luck. You will need it!
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
#9
Do some research and read reviews and comparisons. Half the crap peddled in the 4wd world is subject to bigger marketing budgets than ladies handbags.
There’s cheap and nasty stuff you don’t want, but there’s also cheap parallel import gear out of the same factories as the big names that doesn’t have the overhead attached.
5w handhelp uhf with 12v power supply from eBay 10 years ago cost me less than $100.00. Still going fine. Uses the same instructions as a Motorola.
Tyres - expensive doesn’t mean best. If they are stamped with an Australian standards mark you’ll be fine. I once did central Oz and the Simpson on a set of Hercules terra track mud tyres which dollar for dollar were the best tyres I’ve ever owned. Currently buying yokohamas off bob Jane during the buy 3 get one free sales.
Lights - bcf led’s for $150 - amazing value so far.
12v elecs, fridges, batteries - I have proven many times to myself that the expensive gear is always the cheapest worked back over time. This is where you lay down money and buy the $1350 fridge, the $400 battery and the $500 isolators with $14/m cable and genuine Andersen plugs - thank me in 10 years when it all still goes.
TJM fleet bullbars have worked well for us in the past, as has their body plates and the price is right. I have a currently U/S Aldi winch on this Ute which came from my last Ute and gave maybe 8 years service. I am quite happy to bin it rather than service it and buy a new one. It has paid for itself time and again.
If you are off-roading all the time and getting stuck all the time the genuine maxtracks will pay you back. I have a set and they are still brand new apart from using one to prop the camper trailer jockey wheel in the sand sometimes. Some of the cheap copies are just plain dodgy.
Recovery gear in this country is now subject to a minimum standard. We have been buying straps from Bunnings.
Just some random thoughts. There is a medium ground to be had if you aren’t writing 4wd fitouts off on tax.
 

Bomber2012

Well-Known Member
#10
Get out there and start driving , I'm pretty sure your rig will do most of what you intend doing . Very few go the whole hog with mods straight away , I started with tyres , suspension and recovery gear , then added mods as i needed them . Have a look on the "The bargains and daily deals" thread in the general 4x4 discussions section that will give you a good idea of what price and performance to expect from some mods . Keep asking questions though as plenty of knowledgable heads on this forum that are happy to help you .
 

Jackolux

Active Member
#11
Grab some recovery gear a snatch strap or two , a couple of shackles , have a look at some soft shackles , so if you need someone to help you out you at least have your own gear .
For sand driving a compressor would be good idea and a couple of Max Trax .
Then just go a drive it ,
We don't really have any sand driving here in Vic , mostly Highcountry tracks
Just about any completely stock 4WD as long as it has Low Rangs can drive most of the Highcountry tracks
I doubt sand tracks would be much different.
 

Ashbine

Active Member
#12
Had my Ranger for 8 years and still building it up. Glad I didn't do it all at once as I've changed my mind 100 times in relation to product and performance.

I have fitted Rhino Racks and then I weld up my own accessories and use Rhino fixings to attach to the racks. Rhino will charge over $100 for a jerry can holder. Made mine up for $15. It's things like these that you learn along the way that will eventually save you money.

The same with lighting. Go online and have a look there.

I certainly wouldn't get all the mods done at once. Get out on the tracks and see what others have got first. All my best mod ideas have been 'stolen' from others.
 

Jaye

Well-Known Member
#13
Others have put forth some good advise.

One thing I will reiterate is if you plan on carrying loads, 4x4 accessories and camping equipment Rhino Rack is the way to go. I wont deny that it is expensive, but it is quality gear and they have an attachment or carrier for anything you could want to put on your roof. It all fits and works with ease. As @Ashbine said, make your own holders and use their brackets. I carry a fair bit of gear on the roof of my Jimny and feel years later its still one of the best investments I have made. Rhino have the largest range of gear and are so easy to fit over the competition.

Lesser quality brands are often heavier and dont have off the shelf attachments, so require you to improvise or fab your own stuff.
 
#15
Lots of good advice here.

I'd buy nothing, except a tyre deflator, compressor, recovery gear and rated recovery points, and go from there.

Go out and see how the vehicle performs, find out where it lacks and then when you understand a bit more you can modify it to suit where it falls short.

You can blow a whole lot of money on a vehicle that really doesn't make much of a difference to what you use it for. Every bit of gear you chuck on is going to hurt your economy as well.

Aaron
 
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