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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Upgrades That Bring New Life to Your Old Truck

Your trusty old pickup has been with you through thick and thin. You’ve hauled everything from lumber to livestock in its bed. Its engine has carried you across hundreds of thousands of miles of open road. No matter how often you’ve used it, abused it, and refused to trade it in, that faithful truck has never let you down.

But lately, it seems like the old girl isn’t quite what she used to be. She’s a little slower off the line, a little rougher at idle. Her gas mileage isn’t what it was back when you first drove her off the lot. While you still love your truck, it might be time to give her some new life with a few upgrades.

Cold Air Intakes

One of the simplest ways to wake up your engine and give it more power is by installing a cold air intake. This replaces the factory air intake with one that draws in cooler, denser outside air. Denser air means more oxygen for better combustion. A cold air intake installs in just a couple of hours with basic hand tools.

Popular options come from manufacturers like K&N and Airaid. Expect to spend $200-$500 on a cold air intake kit. You may need to have the truck’s computer reprogrammed after installation to maximize performance.


Performance Exhausts

Slapping on a performance cat-back exhaust system is another easy way to liberate some extra horsepower. Aftermarket exhausts minimize backpressure. This lets the engine exhale more freely for better performance.

Brands like Flowmaster, MBRP, and Magnaflow offer bolt-on kits for most truck models. Expect to spend $500-$1500 for a complete cat-back system. You’ll enjoy the extra power along with a much more aggressive exhaust note.


Slipping a programmer like the hypertech tuner into your truck’s OBD-II port lets you adjust timing, fuel delivery, speed limiter, and more. A tuner optimizes these parameters to match your particular setup and needs for maximum performance. Switch between tuner settings for towing, fuel economy, or all out speed. Prices range from $200 up to around $600. Some tuners include monitoring to display parameters like exhaust temperature.

Suspension Lifts

A suspension lift gives your truck a rugged, aggressive look while improving ground clearance and off-road ability. The most budget-friendly option is a spacer lift kit that spaces the body up off the frame. For more serious off-road use, a coil-over shock upgrade provides damping adjustability and ride quality. Plan on spending $500 to $2000 for parts depending on the kit. Pay a shop for another few hundred bucks if you don’t want to get your hands dirty with the install.


Wheels & Tires

Nothing makes a bigger visual impact than a set of aggressive new wheels and tires. Trucks just look better with a modest lift and big rubber. Plus, tires are one of the most important upgrades for improving traction and performance both on- and off-road.

Choose based on priorities like fuel efficiency on the highway or traction in the mud. Expect to spend $1000 or more for a set of four wheels along with $600+ per tire. Add another couple hundred for mounting, balancing, and installation.

Body & Interior Accessories

A few choice exterior and interior upgrades can give your truck a whole new look and improved function. Consider options like:

  • NERF bars or side steps for easier access
  • Brush guard or grille guard for front protection
  • Tonneau cover for weatherproofing the bed
  • Audio system upgrade with new speakers and a sub
  • Leather seat covers for comfort and style
  • Racing pedals for performance feel

Shop online retailers like RealTruck and 4WP for accessories to customize your truck. Budget at least $500-1000 for a combination of functional and cosmetic upgrades.


While your trusty truck might seem like it’s getting a little worse for wear, it’s probably got a ton of life left with the right upgrades. With a little investment in bolt-on parts, you can bring back the power and looks of its glory days. More importantly, you can keep your old friend hauling, towing, and adventuring by your side for years to come.

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