Part of the fun of owning a Wrangler isn’t just cruising with the top and doors off, it’s customizing your vehicle to turn heads. Oftentimes people joke that Jeep stands for “Just Empty Every Pocket”. While that certainly can be true, there are many less expensive ways to upfit your Jeep.
As a recent college graduate and a fairly new Jeep owner, I want to share with you five ways that I upfitted my Jeep to help you when customizing your Wrangler on a budget.
1. Headlights and Taillights
One of the easiest places to start upfitting your Jeep is the lighting. The most cost effective route is to simply switch the OEM bulbs in your headlights and fog lamps with an LED bulb. The bright white light increases visibility and
creates a modern look compared to the yellow light from the OEM bulbs. There are a number of tutorials online that give step-by-step directions on swapping the bulbs yourself! This is an easy DIY project that can be done for under $100.
In my Jeep, I chose to replace the entire unit on both my headlights and taillamps with LED lighting. I took out the OEM headlight unit and replaced it with 360-degree LED halos. I chose these for looks and functionality, and you can find them on Amazon. My taillights were replaced with LED lighting with a smoked lens. When my taillights are off, the unit looks solid black. Shop around for taillight units that create the look you want, and you can easily replace them yourself. Check out the LED lighting on my Jeep Wrangler below.
Replacing your front bumper can dramatically change the overall look of your Jeep Wrangler, giving it a more aggressive stance. Shop around sites like eBay to look for deals on popular brands, and be patient for a good sale. Reviews will help you avoid bumpers that rust or don’t hold up to wear and tear.
I shopped for a front bumper for a couple months, until the brand I wanted had a sale. My front bumper is powder coated and came with a bull bar, as well as equipment to house a winch should I choose to have one installed. The fog lights in the bumper are actually just the OEM units re-wired to the new housing. The bumper also came with spots for d-rings, which I purchased separately. All said and done, the cost of my bumper, installation, and d-rings was under $500.
3. Rocker Guards
Select Jeep Wrangler trims come with OEM rock rails. However, not every model has them. If you ever plan on taking your Jeep off-road, these are necessary. When you are on the trails, you can literally rest the weight of your vehicle on these rocker guards when crawling without damaging the underbody or doors. You can also get rails that act as steps if you plan to lift your rig in the future, and they are a great way to enhance the profile of your Wrangler.
My Jeep Wrangler is a Rubicon, so the model comes standard with OEM rails. However, I wanted to replace them with something more aggressive looking. The OEM rails are flush with the side of the Jeep, so they don’t offer the dimension and size I was looking for. The guards I chose have a tubular style, and do not act as steps but rather come closer to the doors than the standard rocker guards. Depending on the style, you can find after market rocker guards anywhere from $120-$700. Install is simple; they bolt directly to the frame of your Jeep using hand tools, no cutting or drilling required.
4. Plasti Dip
If you’ve never heard of or used Plasti Dip, you’re missing out! Plasti Dip is a colored rubber coating you can spray on nearly any surface. You can spray anywhere on your Jeep from exterior logos to your wheels, any color you want. The best part is, the rubber coating peels off easily allowing you to change it up whenever you want.
I used pink Plasti Dip to spray my Jeep decal and my license plate covers. To spray my Jeep logo with damaging the hood, I peeled off the letters using fishing line. After the letters were sprayed and dry, I used 3M automotive tape to place them back on the hood. This was an awesome DIY project I completed in a few hours. You can purchase a can of Plasti Dip for less than $8.
A custom decal can easily personalize your Jeep. A quick Facebook or Etsy search will help you find local artists who will make your design into reality. Use painter’s tape to map out the size and location of your decal before you order, and don’t be afraid to get creative!
I custom ordered two of my decals, and the others are from Amazon. My pink Rubicon decal was a great find from eBay. I used painter’s tape to create a border around the OEM decal, so that the pink one would go in the exact same spot. Removing the OEM Rubicon sticker is especially easy on a warm day, because the heated hood makes the decal come off just by using your fingernails! You can also heat the metal of the hood using a hair dryer for easy removal. Be sure to wipe the surface clean and make sure it is dry before putting a decal anywhere on your Jeep. This will ensure the adhesive sticks properly and prevents any air bubbles. All of my decals were ordered custom for less than $50.
With a little can-do attitude and a resourceful mindset, you can customize your Jeep Wrangler on any budget.
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