Are you a Ford Bronco enthusiast looking to get more out of your ride and give it a custom look? Or perhaps you're an outdoor adventurer, overlander, or weekend warrior looking for insight into how the off-road SUV can be customized for improved performance and style.
Whatever your motivation, we are here to guide you on the best exterior modifications you can make to your Ford Bronco. From aftermarket bumpers, wheels, and lighting upgrades, we run through each component, providing insights into the pros and cons of every Bronco mod available.
Ford Bronco Exterior Mods: Aesthetics & Utility
The exterior of your Bronco can greatly impact both utility and aesthetics. With aftermarket modifications such as bumpers, wheels, and lighting available for installation, you can add function and visual appeal to your ride.
Not only do these accessories offer improved performance for off-road applications, but they also provide an eye-catching aesthetic that’s sure to turn heads. From aggressive designs for weekend mudding to modern and sleek builds for regular highway driving, an array of exterior modifications are available for the Ford Bronco that will help you customize and improve your ride. So why settle for a stock look when you can make your ride truly your own?
New Shoes on the Whip
Your wheels are one of the most important visual and performance upgrades you make to your Ford Bronco. Broncos with the Sasquatch package come equipped with 17-inch bead lock rims and 35-inch tires, making most aftermarket wheel options obsolete unless you want to go full monster truck.
Non-Sasquatch owners may want to consider investing in a set of aftermarket wheels that provide a more aggressive stance and greater performance than the standard factory-installed 17" wheels without having to swap out brand-new tires.
There are literally hundreds of options depending on your preference, so do some research on how much "poke" you want on your rim and make sure it will work with the bolt pattern you have.
There are also several aftermarket bead lock wheel options for non-Sas owners. For instance, Ford makes a kit for the Badlands that can be added to the stock wheels, or you can buy wheels with this feature included, like the Icon Rebound Pro, which come with a patented and rugged bead retention system.
The standard tire size for most non-Sasquatch Ford Broncos is 255/70R17 (OuterBanks is the only non-Sas model with 255/70R18 tires, while the WildTrack and First Edition are both on 285/70R17 rather than 255), and all models come stock with either Goodyears or Bridgestones with a couple of exceptions:
P255/70R16 Bridgestone Dueler H/T 685 (All-Season A/S Tires)
P255/75R17 Bridgestone Dueler A/T RH-S (All-Terrain A/T Tires)
P255/70R18 Bridgestone Dueler A/T RH-S (All-Terrain A/T Tires)
LT265/70R17 General Grabber A/Tx (All-Terrain A/T Tires)
LT285/70R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain TA KO2 (All-Terrain A/T Tires)
LT285/70R17 Goodyear Territory (Mud-Terrain M/T Tires)
Wildtrack, First Edition, Sasquatch:
LT315/70R17 Goodyear Territory (Mud-Terrain M/T Tires)**
Regardless of the model, if you’re looking to upgrade a non-Sas Bronco, you can go up to 35" tires without needing a lift kit or new wheels, although you might need to remove the crash bars. Any higher than that, and you will need a lift kit to fit the tires on your Bronco. Since the factory tires are good quality All Terrains (A/T), most Bronco owners wait until they need a new set before leveling up.
It is worth noting that tire size can affect the performance and safety of your vehicle. For those looking to do more extreme off-roading, larger, more aggressive tires provide superior grip on loose terrain, but can also affect your gas mileage, ride quality, and overall suspension.
Consult an expert or research tire sizing before making any decisions. By doing so, you can ensure that you get the right tire size that meets your needs and also maintains the safety and performance of your Ford Bronco.
Lift Kits - Pros and Cons
Adding a lift kit to your new Ford Bronco is a popular way to modify your vehicle and improve its off-road capabilities, but there are both benefits and drawbacks to keep in mind before making this modification.
Increased Ground Clearance
One of the most significant benefits of adding a lift kit is increased ground clearance, which can help with off-roading situations like rocky terrain and steep inclines.
Improved Off-Road Performance
By increasing ground clearance and adding larger tires, a lift kit can improve overall off-road performance and make the Bronco more capable than ever before.
Lift kits also allow you to customize the appearance of your Bronco and make it stand out from other stock models.
Limited Driving Comfort
A lift kit can affect the driving comfort of your Bronco. They can make the vehicle feel stiffer and bumpier, especially when driving on paved roads.
Lifting a vehicle can be expensive, as the cost of the kit itself, installation costs, and any other modifications that may be necessary can add up quickly. Particularly in the models with the disconnecting front stay bar, special attention must be paid to ensuring the lift does not interfere.
Increased Wear on Parts
Lifting a vehicle also puts more strain on various parts of the drivetrain, potentially leading to increased wear and tear and the need for more frequent maintenance. Remember, Ford engineers designed the Bronco holistically so changing the suspension can throw off the vehicle’s ergonomics.
Some states and jurisdictions have restrictions on maximum vehicle height, so adding a lift kit could cause compliance issues with road safety regulations.
Ultimately, whether or not to add a lift kit to a new Ford Bronco depends on the driver's personal preference and overall usage. It's important to weigh the benefits against the costs and drawbacks before making a decision.
There are really only two options when it comes to air compressors: onboard or portable.
Onboard compressors are incredibly handy for those Bronco owners that do a lot of off-roading and only have one vehicle dedicated to it. They can be installed in many convenient, out-of-the-way locations, but most prefer to put them under the hood, close to the battery.
Portable compressors, on the other hand, can be taken anywhere and used for a wide range of tasks. They are especially good for those with multiple vehicles who may want to avoid dropping $800 a pop to install an onboard compressor in every single one.
Portable compressors can be stored in the Bronco’s trunk or bed, and they are easily transportable, making them ideal for roadside emergencies or camping trips. Most portable compressors, like the onboard variety, can fill up tires quickly and efficiently, helping to increase fuel efficiency and the overall lifespan of tires.
Another benefit of portable compressors is that they can be used for various tasks besides just inflating tires- such as powering pneumatic tools like nail guns, staple guns, and impact wrenches. In addition, they offer a high level of convenience and versatility that onboard compressors may not be able to provide.
Choosing the Right Aftermarket Lighting for Your Bronco
Choosing the right aftermarket lighting for your Ford Bronco can significantly impact your driving experience, especially if you do a lot of off-roading. There are several options to choose from when it comes to lighting upgrades.
For instance, LED lights are popular for their longevity, brightness, and energy efficiency. LED lights are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, and they can be installed on your Bronco's front bumper, roof, doors, or other locations, depending on your needs.
Another option is HID lights, which provide amazing brightness while having a lower power draw when compared to traditional halogen bulbs. However, they have a longer warm-up time, which can be a drawback during emergencies.
Another popular choice that has been around for a while is halogen lights. They are affordable, widely available, and capable of providing decent light output, but they have a relatively short lifespan and draw more power, which may be a concern for those who care about fuel efficiency.
When choosing the right aftermarket lighting for your Ford Bronco, consider your driving style, environment, and budget. Remember, brighter does not necessarily mean better; the wrong type of light can do more harm than good.
Consult an expert and look for reputable brands that offer durable, quality products that withstand harsh outdoor conditions. Selecting the right aftermarket lighting can significantly improve your Bronco's visibility, comfort, and safety on your next off-roading adventure.
Bumpers and Bumper Accessories
Some aftermarket hitches do not house a winch but still improve the overall look and clearance of the Bronco. Since not all models come with a skid plate, these can be a valuable addition to the Bronco, providing enhanced off-road protection.
There are many great aftermarket options for Bronco owners who don't need to carry around a bulky winch but want additional protection from trail hazards and a customized look.
Look for bumpers that have a steel skid plate with a side gusset, boasting a steel body frame and a simple bolt-on installation. These bumpers can provide maximum protection from trail hazards while giving your Bronco an extra boost of style.
Winch-style bumpers are heavy-duty, aftermarket bumpers designed to fit a variety of trucks and SUVs. These bumpers are equipped with a winch mount, allowing the user to attach a winch for off-roading or recovery purposes. Winch-style bumpers come in various styles and designs, from sleek and modern to rugged and aggressive. They are made from high-quality materials such as steel or aluminum, ensuring durability and strength. With their added protection and style, winch-style bumpers are perfect for those looking to take their vehicle off the beaten path.
The most popular option among Bronco owners is the Elite Series winch bumpers from WARN Industries. These bumpers provide maximum protection from trail hazards, feature housing for the industry-leading Warn winch and a sleek design that enhances the look of your Bronco. They also come with a limited lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.
Of course, no bumper is complete without bumper shackles. These essential off-road tools are a must for helping your buddies out of a mud pit and doing it safely. Again, these don’t have to be purely functional.
Our own bumper shackles come in all different colors to match the trim level of your Bronco and enhance the appearance and utility of your ride.
Running Boards and Side Steps
One of the most popular exterior mods is the traditional running board, which mounts directly to the undercarriage. These steps provide a wider foot-width than the factory-installed steps and offer increased traction, which makes climbing into the vehicle easier in wet or slippery conditions.
Traditional running boards come in either aluminum or stainless steel; you can choose from diamond plate, powder-coated finishes, or a polished look.
Another option is the retractable running boards, which offer the same convenient access but remain tucked seamlessly into the side skirts when not in use, providing an unobstructed view of the Bronco's body. This option is perfect for those who want to maintain the sleek look of their Bronco while still adding extra functionality.
Electric-powered running boards are a variation of the retractable option. They feature a power-retractable auto-deployment mechanism that automatically deploys the steps when you open the door and retracts them when you close the door. The electric-powered option is perfect for those who want a seamless, high-end look.
The issue with the above options is that most Broncos have rock rails. You would have to remove the rock rails in order to install each of these frame-mounted options, which removes an essential piece of protection for the frame when off-roading.
For those who don't take the Bronco in extreme terrain, this could be a good option, but for those of us that use our Bronco for more than trips to the grocery store, a better solution is on order.
Both the Bronco Stirrup and the Magnum Stirrup are made from stainless steel and billet aluminum, and both feature a textured step pad that provides additional grip, even in wet or muddy conditions. These high-quality additions are designed with an angled approach angle to account for the stock Bronco's suspension lift while still maintaining the distance from the ground.
The decision to put roof racks on your Bronco is a touchy subject for some. Soft tops are obviously limited in this area, and the removable MIC top style needs to be...drumroll...removable. In most cases, installing a roof rack limits the flexibility of one of the most important parts of the vehicle. They can also impact the overall aesthetic of your Bronco.
But sometimes, a product comes along that resolves all of those issues:
The Archetype R A N I E R M.R.R. (Modular Roof Rack).
Wrapping Up - Get the Most Out of Your Customized Ford Bronco!
Whether you’re looking for improved off-road performance, an aggressive aesthetic, or simply a more personalized look, there are plenty of exterior modifications available to make your Ford Bronco stand out. With the right upgrades and careful installation, you can unlock a whole new level of adventure and excitement in your Ford Bronco.