9 Critical JK Mods to Absolutely Avoid

Jeep JK Mods to Avoid - DriverIllustrated.com

One of the big selling points for the Jeep Wrangler is that it is easy to modify with highly customizable parts. The JK manufacturers offer many modification options to upgrade and change your vehicle as you see fit. I polled more than 50,000 Jeep owners to get their feedback to enhance my own experience as a Jeep owner to bring this article to you with the most helpful information.

Unfortunately, just because you are getting a modification for your vehicle does not mean you will improve your Jeep. Many modification options come with their own drawbacks. You might end up installing mods on your JK that can mess up your vehicle.

Many JK owners installed new mods on their cars that actually turned out to be useless or unfit for their vehicles. Some modifications can even be dangerous for you and other drivers and pedestrians if you are not careful.

If you are new to vehicle modification and unaware of which mods to avoid for your Jeep, then this article will help you understand which mods JK mods you should avoid altogether.

1. Rough Country Lift

Of the Jeep JK owners I polled, I was surprised to see that the Rough Country lift was among the least desired modifications to be considered. In fact, of the 78 votes cast, 38 votes were given to the Rough Country lift as the worst Jeep JK modification.

This does not mean that the Rough Country lift is a complete waste. It just means that many Jeep enthusiasts would prefer other brands. One interesting quote said that Rough Country is like the “Walmart” of the Jeep modifications brands. I personally appreciate Walmart products and feel they can have their place.

But if you are looking for the highest quality lift modification for your Jeep JK, steer clear of the Rough Country brand.

2. 50″ Light Bar and LED/HD Headlights

50″ Light Bar

The 50″ light bar was recommended as the second most critical Jeep JK modification to avoid.

Of the 78 votes cast, 33 were given to avoid the 50″ light bar. This seems obviously terrible but still some Jeep JK owners insist on making this choice. I just hope you will learn this and save yourself from a bad choice!

JK Gears and Gadgets pulled together a really good list of cons for the light bar for your Jeep JK

  • Glare
  • Blind others
  • Noise
  • Price
  • State laws
  • Looks cheesy

Be sure to watch the video above to get the full picture. It helped me a lot.

picture of a jeep with modified headlightsHeadlights to Avoid

Headlights are a favorite modification for all kinds of vehicles. They are also popular in Jeeps as most drivers take them off road to places where they do not have the luxury of street lights. Better headlights can be a lifesaver, definitely.

However, powerful bulbs can also cause problems for other drivers and increase the risk of collisions. Your lights must be bright enough to allow you to see, but they shouldn’t be so bright that they blind other drivers.

While I am not discouraging you from getting better lights for off-road driving, do refrain from buying cheap quality LED headlights that are sold at online stores. 

If you’ve ever driven in front of another car with its high beams on, you have probably noticed how problematic this can be for someone driving towards you from the front. Drivers may be dazzled or blinded by bright lights, causing an accident. 

This can also happen when lights are reflected off the rearview mirror as cars pass you by on a dark country road. In some situations, you can even blind yourself if the lights fall on a reflective surface in front of you.

So for the purpose of your own safety and others around you, do not go for high-beam headlights that are too bright. 

3. Tuffy Overhead Console

Most people use their jeep for cross-country touring. Since you will be traveling on the road, it seems like a good idea to get a Tuffy overhead console for additional storage, security and communication devices.

The problem is that this mod requires a bolt-on attachment. You will need to use a drill to make holes on your JK to mount the overhead unit.

The extra storage device space sounds good to most drivers until they see the price tag. It can cost you around $270 to $500 to install this unit. The cost is lower when you do it on your own but you may do something wrong so it is better to get a professional to do it for you.

I am not saying that the modification is bad. Once you have it attached, it looks pretty nice and can be useful. But is it worth the cost? Nope.

If you are looking to add extra storage space to your JK, you can invest in cheaper modifications in the trunk.

4. Poor Quality After-Market Exhaust System

Good quality exhaust systems are necessary to get top performance from your vehicle. Many car owners add a customized after-market exhaust system to improve the performance of their Jeep.

But before you ‘upgrade’ to a new exhaust system, take a pause and think about it again. A low-quality exhaust system that looks good may actually cause problems down the line. It can significantly reduce your engine’s life. It can also ruin the jeep’s aesthetic look if the exhaust isn’t specifically made for the JK. 

In our experience, while most after-market dual exhaust systems look great they can also make the jeep look sticky. So only go for a high-quality exhaust system, or do not get one at all.

5. Mud Terrain Tires

This modification is completely situational. Whether you need it or not depends on where you will be driving most of the times.

Different types of tires are useful for different driving surfaces. Mud terrain tires are most useful when you are driving off the road. They offer better grip and are less likely to skid on dirt and sand. 

If you bought your jeep JK for driving off-road on trails then mud terrain tires make sense. But if you will be driving on the road most of the time, which is true for most touring drivers, then you do not need to get special mud terrain tires. They are simply not worth the price tag.

Instead, you should get all-terrain tires. They offer good performance on the road and give you a decent driving experience when you occasionally have to drive off-road.

6. Upgrade Wheels From 15 Inch To 16-17 Inch

Speaking of tires, many drivers opt to get an upgrade for their wheels. The JK Jeep comes with 15-inch factory-installed tires. But most drivers get them upgraded to 16 or 17-inch wheels.

The bigger-sized wheel raises your vehicle higher and improves ground clearance. This can have an impact when you get off-road and drive on rocky or bumpy terrain. 

Even a slight elevation of a couple of inches can protect the underbelly of your vehicle from rocks and bumps on the road and make a difference.

However, the benefit is quite subjective. The only benefit of the bigger tires will come into play when you drive on an extremely uneven surface with big protruding rocks. In most other cases, your Jeep’s 15-inch tires will offer enough ground clearance to overcome driving difficulties. 

On sandy or muddy terrains, the difference in size will not matter a lot.

The problem is that if you replace your wheels for a bigger size, you will also need to get bigger tires to fit on them. This can be expensive and not something I recommend unless you go for mountainous, rocky trails.

7. Classic Side Mirrors 

You can modify the side mirrors on your jeep and go for a classic look with Lange side mirrors. There was a time when they were very popular and became a necessary component of jeeps. Even today, these mirrors can make your Jeep look simple but unique, with large metal mirrors sticking out on both sides.

However, there is one major problem with these mirrors. They are not the safest option around.

Lange side mirrors only cover a small area for the driver. They can make it difficult to see any vehicles coming in from behind. They can lower safety for you and other drivers that may be approaching to overtake your vehicle.

This is one of the reasons why they were dropped over time and replaced with modern side mirrors. 

If you want to improve your Jeep’s aesthetics and make it look unique, then go for something that doesn’t make your driving less safe than it needs to be. The Lange side mirrors are not the best modification in this regard.

8. Dupli-Color Vinyl for Painting

Many car owners are not satisfied with the original factory stock colors on their Jeep Wrangler, They try to change it by using duplicolor vinyl to repaint doors, bonnet and dash etc. 

But repainting the vehicle takes more than just coloring over the original. It is a long process that involves sanding and scuffing the body to get rid of the original paint before you can apply a new color. If you don’t do that, the new paint might not stick right and keep peeling off.

If you are a beginner at auto detailing and painting then you should not try to paint the JK yourself. Instead of that, take it to your nearest auto painting shop to get it done by a professional.

9. Poor Quality Shocks

Good quality shocks are a must for any vehicle that will be driven off-road. They come under a lot of stress when you drive on an uneven surface. 

If you buy low-quality shocks for your jeep, they will be worn out quickly and your driving will not be as smooth as you want.

If you do not want trouble while driving, get good quality shocks when you modify your JK. They are worth it even if you have to pay extra.

Avoid buying inexpensive shocks that will go out of work after a few months.

Final Thoughts

Modifying your Jeep can be expensive, so you should be smart about the kind of upgrades and modifications you should get. Modifications that improve performance, smooth driving and safety should be higher up followed by aesthetic improvements to your car.

In this blog, I covered some of the JK modifications to avoid. If you have more to add, do get in touch [>>link to contact page] to give me feedback.

Mark Anders

I love my Jeep and will share my years of knowledge with you here! Stay with me and read on!

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