Super Trucks: Factory Ordered or Build Your Own?

TTT Accessories Photo 1

By G.R. Whale

Be it recreational, personal or vocational applications, pickup trucks seem to get altered more than most vehicles beyond hard-core four wheelers and van and coach conversions. Some are cab-and-chassis modifications by an authorized upfitter, but more often, it’s a pickup used as a blank canvas.

More equipment becomes factory-available as pickups grow in popularity. A few generations ago, you couldn’t get factory side steps; now you have choices in finish and style. Think of the wheel options for half tons, too. The question with almost any accessory or upgrade is how to do it.

Factory equipment comes with a vehicle warranty and is fully engineered, validated to work with your truck and road legal. There are no concerns about the airbags working properly because it has a winch, failing smog tests or funky trailer wiring that could make your dash melt. It’s included in financing and online resale calculators by default and the cost often can’t be beaten by the aftermarket.

Manufacturer accessory divisions such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Mopar and Toyota’s TRD offer the same validation (and financing if added when new) of factory equipment, though the warranty is often determined by who does the installation. As accessories go, they usually aren’t cheap.

The aftermarket offers the broadest spectrum, often at better prices, though the warranty only applies to the accessories and could void your truck warranty. System integration is unknown: If the dinghy tow-bar mount for your compact pickup will affect airbag operation or the 22s drop your payload by a ton, do you think they’ll tell you? And they’re not financed with the truck purchase.

Which method do you prefer for which additions to your pickup? image by Bruce Smith; TTT Logo by Paul Dolan



Cant say I disagree with anything put forward here. Nothing looks worse than a brand new $50k+ pickup that has been fitted with some trashy chrome or blacked out aftermarket wheels and poorly fit aftermarket accessories. The more factory integration the better.

That's right Hemi. Make mine a Power Wagon :-) I will have to call them and see if the factory warranty is voided and if A.E.V. will pick up where the factory left off. Also need to decide before I buy. If I go with an A.E.V. Prospector with black rims black bumper I need to buy a silver truck. I know some of you doubt my new purchase because its taking so long. I hope to post you tube video's to prove it.

Posted by: HEMI V8 | Sep 5, 2015 2:37:59 PM

Factory does some great things, but over all they have to build within the Feds rules. If you got money and don't care buy what that factory offers. If you know how to use some tools and got time build it yourself to make it perfect to what you need, then make/built it yourself.

I buy/order factory then upgrade tires,air delivery and exhaust.
Better tires and performance air intake with a free flow exhaust system.

i HAVE DONE BOTH. Takes time to drive to each place having each thing done. Usually end up with new scratches and dings. Had to do my rear end twice because 4 wheel parts did it wrong. Then my rear end failed from Auburn. Each time taking it back waiting and so on. This time i bought from the dealer and have a full factory warranty. Gives you peace of mind plus the truck is done. Lifted 37's leather and i can enjoy the truck now.

@Hemi V8

Buy from the dealer.

Like you said. No hassles and they are dedicated to your satisfaction. Certified professionals do the work, and a competent manager makes sure you are satisfied.

Aftermarket people make some great stuff, but the dealer has a lot more at stake.

never had any need for anything other than factory stock. Other than trailer brake controllers before they became a factory option (why did that take so long?) And obviously tires. Any more modification than that and it's overkill or just for show much of the time. I do a lot of extreme off-roading and never had any need for any aftermarket offroad equipment. I purposefully take the easiest route to whatever destination, but I have traveled some of the nastiest roads in Idaho in a stock truck and rarely had any problems that some aftermarket part would have prevented. I guess airbags might be another aftermarket (or factory available from ram) part that might be nice in some situations. Just blows my mind how much people will spend on a truck for things that they don't really need or are just for show (like huge rims and tires).

Obviously factory stuff tends to be for the most part better done and more integrated into the design (naturally) but it jacks the price of the vehicle and for the majority that finances you pay interest on those extras for the term of your loan. The after market has great variety and flexibility and allows you to pay as you go and to do as little or much as you like as opposed to being roped into packages.

The 2 features I would be most interested in seeing brought by the factory would #1 be an aluminum drop sided flat bed for 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton pickups in all cab configurations. Maybe even offer it in a short long and extra long versions. I would have no paint and look like the beds that the home depot rental trucks have. No wheel wells, no paint to scratch, big flat surface, drop sides, load unload from any side, no rust... for someone who actually works a truck a true dream. For the vain not so much. The 2nd feature I would like to see would be a dump option for this bed.

Aluminum contractor beds are awesome. I have one on my lifted f350. The truck is basically the Ford version of that ram. I only run 315 70 17 on it since it would be too tall with 37'$ to throw stuff in the bed repeatedly. With a reg cab and v10 she is a logging trail machine. Plus it's 16 years old. A tree could fall on it and I would just fix her up in my spare time. 70k for the same truck? Not for me. I spent enough on a 16' Silverado ltz 1500. I'll drive new 1500 series trucks keep stock and build my work trucks. Plus these older trucks have nothing computerized that can go wrong like these new ones. That f350 never left me stranded in 16 years of plowing towing and hauling. The best part is still the fact that you don't care about scratches or damage. On my new trucks I see a scratch or chip and it drives me nuts! Old f350 could have a grenade go off in the cab and she still might get the job done.

I like having all of these new options to build your own but it seems like one of my favorites, the manual transmission, is going away.

Have owned MANY high perf cars bikes and trucks over many years.

FACTORY engineering is SERIOUS most of the time. Most people have NO IDEA how much time and money they spend on making them work RIGHT.

A truck like a Raptor has thousands of hours of time and engineering put into making it work well.

This is not to say some things from the aftermarket are not good.....its just USUALLY they are not NEARLY as well engineering and well integrated into/onto the vehicle .

Factory is best (NOT dealer stuck on) . Be weary of "tuners" as well , most are not worth a flip . The good ones have a reputation and cost $$

Buy the lowest model 4x4 and build it yourself!

I ordered my 2016 Tacoma SR 4x4 model with satin dark wheels to go with my MGM color.

All I did is install a Solid Fold bed cover and sold the factory tires back to the dealer and installed larger 265/75 BFG KO2's and it looks great and gets looks out and about. I still get some folks coming up to me asking how I like it and they are impressed up close with the overall look and toughness. They are shocked to find out I only swapped out the factory tires for the BFG's, and it looks just that much better.

My 2010 Tacoma 4x4 SR5 is modded like an end of the world beast an she gets all of the respect on the roads! How many times folks are taking pics of it on the hwy never ends!

Buy the lowest model 4x4 and build it yourself!

I ordered my 2016 Tacoma SR 4x4 model with satin dark wheels to go with my MGM color.

Posted by: oxi | Oct 19, 2016 11:45:53 PM

LOL, yeah lets get ourselves a cheap truck and then go hog wild on every bolt on mod offered in the 4Wheelparts Catalogue!, yes! By the time you are done you will have spent as much as a TRD Pro and have something that is about 1/3 as useful and looks like some highschool sophomore dream car.

Unless you spend big bucks you are going to get some cheap, poorly integrated, bolt on mods that will come nowhere close to the quality and utility of something integrated at the factory. Most serious offroad packages offered now days go way deeper than stickers and shocks, and dollar for dollar are going to work way better than something cobbled together at some aftermarket truck shop.

@ devilsadvocate,

First off, I have spent less on my 2010 Tacoma and it is just as capable, if not better than the $50,000+ Raptor off-road!

I bought my 2010 at $25,000, spent under $10,000 including tires and I am still well under a factory Raptor, and it is my design from lessons learned racing down in Baja and mudding in my home state.

My unique truck driving down the road getting attention where a Raptor is blending in like any other full-size monster on the roads today!

I had one guy comment on a trip that my truck resembled what he saw on the National Geographic Channel, and he was in his 60's...

Bolt on mods? We have off-road racing shops that service Crandon International Off-road Raceway up here, so your assumptions are way off. I am not a guy that buys cheap shyt online and bolts them on in the driveway.

Most of what I have has to be shipped in by semi or installed at a shop with welding equipment.

My front bumper weighs 80lbs, my rear bumper 200lbs with about 60lbs of skid plates underneath the front half of the truck, an aluminum roof basket custom made locally, safari snorkel, tubed rear axle, custom rear shock mounts with 14" Fox 2.0's with reservoirs, custom designed 9-pack Deavers 700lbs over stock rated, HD front coils you would find on a full-size, 200lbs over stock, Camburg control arms and I am not even close to a stock Raptor in price and I have one capable and unique truck for any scenario I choose!


First....your Taco is not as large as a F150 (Raptor is based on ) so its not "just as good" . Use apples to apples. Cost weight etc. are all completely different using totally different class vehicles to compare.

Second .... include labor cost, WARRANTY, and all the setup time and changes to get everything correct ( quite sure you are leaving out some or all of this ). Did you go out and test all the different products against each other then recalibrate the suspension set up over and over for the weight differences gearing differences etc. ? Of course you didnt .... unless you are VERY wealthy , own your own racing team / shop etc. Just because those parts and pieces are available for your Taco (EVERY taco of every configuration , remember) doesnt mean they were specifically perfect for YOUR exact combo.

Does your Taco still meet all emissions crash safety etc standards ? lets not forget all that too.....pretty sure you have NOT spent the time and $$ for this as well.

Can your Taco still run with a Raptor in so many environments , tow the same , haul the same and keep you as safe or carry the whole family all for the same $$ ?

Not trying to be an azz.....but......

It's amazing to me how much tech is already in the base vehicles today! Tow package, auto/manual shift, cruse control, dark tinted window's, theater lighting, keyless entry, tweeters in the A pillars, etc.
I ordered a base ext. cab Sierra 1500 WT from the dealer because they don't have any on the city lot's. You don't see a lot of 8' beds so I look different than the crowd right out of the gate. What you get is a blank canvas to make your own. Why do I need a battery charge gauge when the computer let's me know when there is a problem? Hell, it even tells me when roads are iced or slippery! If you don't know, the first things to go wrong are the Bell's & Whistle's. The only thing that has broken in 5 yrs was 1 TPMS unit.
It was also the only truck that comes with vinyl seats and rubber floor. A co-worker tried to buy his SL with vinyl and they said NO! If I liked carpet, I'd get carpet floor mats.
I swapped the base radio for one with touch screen w/back-up camera. Navigation is through my Android with an App that puts my phone's touch-screen on the dash display. Stock steel wheels pulled for tires/wheels I like. Bought a stock chrome grill to replace the black base one for $50 on E-Bay. Bought a better center console to replace the jump seat in front (E-Bay). After market side door molding's that pop. Awesome GM installed Cargo Management System for $250 co-pay with GM Promo Special.
I have to rave about the dealer applied paint protectant they called Ice Coat. A $100 add-on. I constantly have people think my truck is new! They can't believe it's 5 yrs old and never been waxed. Really nice.
I'll be keeping it for a long time since I cant get 170 degree swing suicide doors on the new GM's.
All this and more for under $30K with $9K in dealer discounts.

I suggest everyone rent their vehicle of choice to drive for a week. See if you really need to know exactly how far you can go before needing gas, etc., etc.

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