Whether you do it for sport or for work, off-roading is a whole lot of fun, but many people often find themselves wondering if it’s an expensive hobby.
The reason for this is that there is so much misinformation from off-roading enthusiasts about how much it actually costs - with some claiming that it is very expensive and others saying that it is dirt cheap.
The truth is, off-roading can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. If you want to go off-roading on a budget on beginner terrain, all you need is a 4x4 vehicle, which you can buy used for a few thousand dollars. However, advanced off-roading with custom parts can be very expensive.
Off-roading is a driving sport that has been pioneered in the United States, as we have got some of the meanest terrains out there and cars that are equipped to handle them. This has led to a lot of innovation within off-roading vehicles - with new capabilities and customizations being announced constantly. However, seeing all of these new fancy off-road vehicles has left many people curious as to how much it actually costs to get into off-roading. This is a driving sport that you can approach in so many different ways and the more that you want out of it, the more you can expect to pay down the line. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at some of the costs associated with off-roading.
After years of working as a mechanic who specializes in off-road vehicles, I have had an extensive amount of experience dealing with basic and advanced custom installations for these types of cars. My experience has taught me that off-roading is a sport that can be done on a budget, but it can also cost you quite a lot if you want to get into advanced terrains.
Cost Of Off-Roading
What I love about off-roading most is that this is a sport for everyone - regardless of your budget. If you have got a few thousand dollars to dish out on an off-road vehicle, then that is all that you essentially need to get started. At the end of the day, the only thing that you truly need to be able to go off-roading is a 4x4 vehicle and if you have got one in working condition (no matter what you paid for it), you are ready to go off-roading.
With that being said, this will be a very introductory level of off-roading, which is perfect if you are a beginner or if you simply just need a 4x4 vehicle that can handle easy to moderate terrain levels for work and commutes. You would be amazed by some of the excellent used 4x4 cars that you can buy, which are great for taking care of your basic off-roading needs. The only thing that you want to be sure of is that the vehicle is in decent working condition before you commit to it so that you are not pouring money down the drain.
Now, while getting a used 4x4 vehicle at a good price is very achievable, you are going to find that your off-road capabilities are going to be seriously limited. If you want to take off-roading to the next level, so that you can tackle hard and severe terrains, you are going to need to invest in a better setup. This will certainly require that you make some modifications and customizations to your vehicle, but you may even want to consider investing in a new(er) vehicle altogether. If you are doing technical off-roading, then safety should be paramount, which means that you want to be driving a car that is equipped and reliable for what you are using it for.
Once, you start getting into the world of advanced off-roading, you can expect to see the expenses add up. Customizations are expansive and there are so many different routes that you can take when wanting to make modifications to your vehicle. While you can opt for a simple setup with your customizations, the truth is that off-roading can become addictive, as it is all too tempting to add new toys and parts to your 4x4. Let’s break down some of the costs and customizations that you can expect to have with off-roading vehicles.
The starting point for anyone looking to get into off-roading is always going to be the vehicle itself. This may come as a surprise but your 4x4 vehicle will actually be one of your most flexible costs for getting involved in the sport. As mentioned above, you can buy a solid 4x4 vehicle for as little as $3,000 to $5,000 used.
This is great news for anyone that wants to start off-roading on a tight budget, as this is right around the cost of what you would pay for just about any other used vehicle. With that being said, if you can afford a bit more, you will find that your options only become better and more dynamic.
Now, while you can buy a 4x4 vehicle for this cheap, you can easily spend tens of thousands on one - especially if you buy a brand new, top-of-the-line car with off-roading capabilities. Most trucks that are worthy of consideration are going to set you back right around $30,000 (or more).
However, high-end jeeps and other 4x4 vehicles can easily cost you double that amount with most options starting at around $40,000 and many people paying $50,000 to $60,000. As you can see, the costs of off-roading can skyrocket very quickly and this is still without any additional off-roading customizations.
No matter what kind of 4x4 vehicle you decide on, it is going to be hard to excel in this sport without doing some proper off-roading customizations to your vehicle. You can technically rely on some stock 4x4 vehicles for handling moderate-level terrains and perhaps even some advanced, but having customizations done to your car is going to open up a lot more doors for your off-roading capabilities.
This is, unfortunately, an area that can be tougher to cut corners on. You can certainly buy used parts to customize your vehicle but at the end of the day, these are going to be unavoidable costs for many drivers that really want to get into off-roading.
With that being said, you do not need to go all out with customizations and modify every aspect of your vehicle. The best way to determine what customizations you need and how much you need to spend is to consider what kind of terrain you find yourself driving on and what kind of capabilities you want your 4x4 vehicle to have. Having a realistic idea of what you need to add to your vehicle can result in saving you tons of cash on unnecessary customizations. Let’s take a look at some in more detail.
One of the first things that you are going to want to customize on your off-road vehicle is your tires. Having tires with off-road capabilities will enable you to handle considerably tougher terrains and you can do it for relatively cheap.
In reality, all you need for basic off-roading are All-terrain tires, which your vehicle will likely already be equipped with if you have got a 4x4. These tires are not meant for advanced off-roading but they actually have very solid performance and are capable of handling a variety of different terrains such as dirt, gravel, snow, and even some rocks.
However, if you want to get into more technical off-roading, you are going to want to invest in some mud-terrain tires or extreme terrain tires. This is where your costs can start to add up. For a well-rounded off-road tire set, you should expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $750 +. However, for an advanced off-road tire set, that number can easily be $2,000 or more.
Customizing your vehicle’s suspension can really be a game-changer in achieving advanced off-roading capabilities.
In combination with a good set of tires, a solid off-road suspension installation can really help you take your off-roading to new levels, which is why it is often one of the first things that drivers tend to customize on their vehicles.
This is another cost that can vary quite a bit - depending on how technical you want to get. You can pay as little as $300 to $500 for a basic suspension kit. However, you can actually end up paying thousands if you want to look at more advanced options.
Keep in mind that unless you are a mechanic, you will also need to add additional costs for installation - it all adds up.
Additional Customizations & Final Costs
Once you really get into customizing your off-road vehicle, you will find that there is really no end to it, as this is a hobby that you spend a lot of time (and money) on.
Sure, you can try to cut corners here and there, which will save you a considerable amount of cash, but ultimately, your costs will build the more that you want to get into the sport. Here is a quick look at some additional customizations that drivers often find themselves adding to their off-road vehicles:
- Grill Guard
- Body Protection
- Custom Lights
The list really goes on, as there are so many different ways that you can approach your off-road setup. All in all, if you really want to get into off-roading as a sport, you should be ready to spend a considerable amount of money to get your vehicle’s capabilities to an advanced level.
However, if you are okay with a modest setup, you can skip a lot of these customizations and stick to the basics, as this will be just fine for light-off roading.
Once you examine the expenses of off-roading vehicles compared to standard driving, having a 4x4 can certainly be more costly. With that being said, there is always a cheaper route that you can take so long as you are willing to compromise certain off-road capabilities.
About THE AUTHOR
Corey has been off-roading all his life, starting from a very young age on ATV's and dirt bikes. As he's grown older, his interests have focused more on larger off-roading vehicles like Jeeps and Toyotas. He lives for the slow and calculated crawl up (or down) steep terrain.Read More About Corey Brooks