I won’t start by saying “we’ve all been there” because truth is we haven’t. But if you are anything like me when I first got my Jeep (and even now to an extent), affording modifications can be demoralizing.
Nothing is worse than seeing a modded out Wrangler roll past you on the highway and you’re saving up for a bumper. It’s easy to get down on yourself.
Truth is I am glad I started this way because it taught me patience and hard work and gave me time to really understand what I was doing.
It also gave me plenty of time to make my Jeep my own through some cheap custom modifications. That’s what is important in owning a Jeep; just make it your own.
It doesn’t have to cost you thousands! Just get creative.
With that, check out these 12 Cheap Mods that any Jeep owner can do!
1. Lights and Lights
I’ll get this one out of the way because why it is very affordable, it is the most expensive on this list.
It’s no secret that stock Jeep lights don’t blow anything out of the water and don’t cut it for a lot of people.
While there are many many options out there for headlight replacements, you can comb through Amazon and get a great deal to bump up those stock headlights.
When the time comes, if you aren’t pleased, you can invest bigger amounts of money for better brand lights. But in the meantime, check out these from Amazon I’m currently running on my ’99 TJ.
NOTE: When replacing headlights, ALWAYS ADJUST THEM FOR FACTORY THROW.
Factory headlights are designed to “throw” the light down toward the street. Aftermarket lights need to do the same or you will upset a lot of people. If you don’t know how, give a quick google search for your car.
Always ensure that the headlights you are looking to buy are DOT approved. If you fail to adjust them especially, you’ll draw attention to them and might get ticketed for non DOT approved lights.
Beyond just adding headlights, consider throwing some light bars on your Jeep or replacing stock fog lights.
Similar to headlights, you CAN spend a lot of money on light bars but you don’t have to.
If I’ve learned anything from finding cheap mods, its to spend lots of times in the reviews and comment section on Amazon if you are unsure about a product.
Customers on Amazon are not afraid to share their honest reviews and that’s a good thing.
NOTE: Always remember that light bars are for off road use only and are illegal to use on the road.
Some argue the use of light bars, but if you are looking for a cheap mod that helps your Jeep stand out, why not throw a couple on?
2. Hood Latches
On older Jeeps, I can speak from experience, that it is a little unnerving to see your hood flopping up and down in the wind at highway speeds with only factory rubber latches holding it down.
I might be a little traumatized, but I remember my friend in high school having his hood fly open at highway speeds TWICE.
It’s no secret that Jeeps are not aerodynamic. Our front end doesn’t necessarily slice through the wind.
Because of that, it is easy for wind to get up under the hood and latch cause some visible vibrations.
A cheap mod for any Jeep owner can be upgraded hood latches.
I personally run these from Rugged Ridge and I love them. They are more pricey than other options but hood latches in general can be a cheap upgrade.
Aftermarket latches not only serve a purpose of better securing your hood but depending on what you choose, can add some personality to your rig.
3. Door Seal Guards
This one is pretty straight forward. Jeeps get a lot of abuse out on the trails.
But any car gets a lot of use right at the door, especially the driver side. When you get in any car, chances are in some way you hit or scrape the door seal guard.
On Jeeps, a day on the trail with the doors off, can lead to a pretty banged up door seal guard or scraped up paint.
An easy fix to that is to get some aftermarket guards like these from Rugged Ridge that literally just 3M stick on and done.
Next time you open your door you’ll see some nice new seals with a little “meat” instead of factory seals or paint that is all banged up.
These don’t only look clean and fresh but also help ensure the bottom seal between the tub and door isn’t letting in any way on those crossings through streams or rivers or massive puddles.
4. Grab That Plasti Dip/Spray Paint
This next mod is probably one of the easiest ways to have a very custom look.
While companies have come out with accent kit that allow you to change the color of your interior or exterior accents, grabbing a can of Plasti-Dip or spray paint lets you have full control.
Some classic things that people like to paint in their Jeeps include:
- Speaker Covers
- Air Vents
- Headlight Bevel
- Gas Tank Cap and Bevel
- Hood Latches
- Hood Hinges
Honestly the list could be endless.
That’s what makes this mod so amazing. Depending on how creative you are, you can almost guarantee that your Jeep is a “one of a kind” just by adding some color.
If you are scared of painting anything on your vehicle, we suggest considering using Plasti-Dip.
If you get tired of the look or don’t like the color, you can peel it off and go back to stock or change it up.
The key to any good paint job is 90% prepping and 10% painting techniques.
Always thoroughly clean and prep any surface you want to paint. It makes all the difference in the finished outcome.
If you have a super clean surface, all you have to do is spray smoothly and evenly.
Don’t make quick burst with the can in a focused area. Use lots of light coatings and not a few heavy coats.
5. Grab Bars or Handles
Often called by another name for a good reason, grab bars and handles are almost essential if you off-road with people in your rig.
The driver always has a different experience in any vehicle than the passengers. Being in a Jeep is worse.
When off-roading, the driver has the steering wheel to hold onto. Throwing in some grab handles or extra grab bars for your passengers is a great courtesy.
Outside of something to hold onto on the trail, as your Jeep gets taller with suspension and tire upgrades, a solid pair of grab handles helps you and your passengers hoist up into the cab.
Most aftermarket handles are easy bolt ons or strap to your roll cage. So in a matter of minutes, you can add some flare and rugged looks to your command center.
6. Sway Bar Disconnects
For those who might not know, your sway bar does exactly what it’s name implies. It keeps your Jeep body from swaying and feeling unstable when driving.
When on the road, this feature is quite necessary. Don’t believe me? Disconnect your sway bar once on the highway and you’ll immediately feel a difference.
On the trails though, a sway bar can limit your ability to use your full flex in your suspension.
By disconnecting the sway bar, you allow your suspension to flex more and keep you more level over uneven terrain.
While factory sway bar connects are relatively easy to take on and off with removing a bolt, a solid investment is a pair of quick disconnects.
You don’t want to have to remove bolts every time you hit the trails. With quick disconnects, you simply pull a pin and that’s it.
If you have electronic disconnects then you have it even easier.
I personally run these adjustable quick disconnects from JKS that can be adjusted to fit whatever suspension height you might have up to 6 inches.
Again, these specific quick disconnects run a little higher than others. But if you all you are looking for is to replace factory, you can find a pair for under $100 easy.
Check out these from Rough Country!
7. Seat Covers
If you read my article on Best Interior Accessories, you saw that seat covers made the list because they can serve two purposes.
While that is true, you don’t have to spend that money to have seat covers that have storage capabilities.
I personally love my seats that came factory in my 1999 Jeep TJ Sahara.
When you hit the trails, it’s super easy to bring in a lot of dust and mud to your interior.
If you are looking to keep things clean and also add some style, getting a set of seat covers is an amazing modification.
Depending on how much you want to spend or if you want to cover all seats will determine which ones to get.
If all you want is something to keep the seats clean on the trails then pull them off when you get home, you can head to Walmart and grab a pair of $20 covers.
If you want to invest a little more, you can get some nice form fitting neoprene covers like these from Rough Country that can be washed and easily stored or thrown back on in the blink of an eye.
8. “Milk Jug” Removal
Jeep hasn’t allows knocked it out of the park with factory bumper parts or looks.
The infamous “Milk Jugs” on the outer portion of TJ model Jeeps are often some of the first things to go for owners.
What I’m referring to, if you are looking at the front of a stock TJ bumper, are the plastic caps that are about the size of milk jugs. These caps also encase the stock rear bumper.
If you have a JK or newer, you won’t necessarily have these specific caps, you can still modify your bumper with clean cuts through the plastic or removing the plastic on your bumper.
The reason these jugs get removed is one for looks, but by taking them off you can shorten the width of your stock bumper and allow yourself to have stubbier bumper.
This can come in handy when adding larger tires or trying to flex out on the trail.
This modification costs nothing and takes about a half hour to take all four caps off.
9. Grille Inserts
If you have noticed the factory mesh behind your grill starting to fade and wear, you might not be too happy with the look it gives your famous Jeep Grille.
Depending on your personal preference and style options, you can buy a cheap set of Grill inserts that can, surprisingly, change the look of your front drastically.
I like a clean black or accent colored option for grill inserts, but the options are many. From matte black to chrome.
Different brands have different ways these inserts attach. From experience, I suggest finding a brand that actually snaps in and not just stick on using adhesive tape.
Another thing to consider ( and you can read through reviews to figure this out) is to make sure whatever inserts you get don’t hinder the flow of air to your engine bay.
Believe it or not, a lot of research goes into the size of grill mesh holes and design to ensure that proper air flow is making its way in. Otherwise your engine can run the risk of overheating.
NOTE: If you don’t like any colors available, add this to your list of things to Plasti-Dip or spray paint!
10. Third Brake Light
Whether you get bigger tires, or replace your rear bumper, or simply just want something else, an easy replacement is the third brake light.
Factory Jeep third brake lights often don’t fit or work when you upgrade in tire size.
Beyond that, often times when you upgrade your rear bumper/tire carrier, you end up having to remove the factory setup.
If it was up to me I would say tough luck and just leave the whole set up off. However, it is actually now required by law to have a third brake light.
You can run the risk of not having one but expect some trouble when you go to get your vehicle inspected.
There several setups you can choose from with a quick google search for your year and model.
Styles like the one below seem to be climbing in popularity and is an awesome way to emphasize your spare tire setup!
11. Hood Decal and Stickers
One of personal favorite modifications I’ve done in the past is to add a custom hood decal to my hood.
You’re hood has a lot of real estate space that often gets overlooked when doing modifications.
In the world of DIYers or internet start ups, finding someone to online to print a custom designed hood decal specific to your Jeep is a piece of cake.
There are Jeep companies who offer a standard set of different decals you can put on there. But if you want to be a one of a kind, you can definitely swing that easily.
12. Coil Spring Spacers
The last thing on our list of cheap modifications for every Jeeper is actually a pretty significant upgrade.
What I am talking about is adding a coil spring spacer lift kit to your setup.
All these lift kits are is a set of puck spacers that sit at the top of your coil spring to add up to 2″ of additional lift.
You likely won’t find anything larger than 2″ and for good reason. Past two inches you start to mess too much with your suspension and need to look at other upgrades to maintain a safe setup.
Besides adding lift to your Jeep and additional clearance for tires, puck lifts can be a leveling kit for your Jeep.
If you have stock suspension at the moment, you will probably notice what is called a “rake” on your Jeep. In other words, the front end seems slanted lower than the back end.
Most Jeepers like the way a equal suspension looks and go for a suspension kit that will level the back and front end.
This can give you a bit of a more aggressive look and overall higher riding vehicle.
Puck lifts are cheap but can oftentimes come with a new set of shocks. If you are considering anything over an inch, i suggest you save up for new shocks as well that are designed for the amount of puck lift you order.
This list of cheap modifications is in no way extensive. Hopefully though, we have given you some ideas on how to get involved with personalizing your Jeep without breaking the bank!
Jeeps are a unique vehicle and should be unique to each and every owner. So even if you don’t money for a big lift kit or new tires yet, don’t get discouraged. Grab some spray paint and get at it!
As always, keep exploring and always have The Wilderness on YOUR Side.