Anyone who watches car and truck building shows on TV knows that customizing
vehicles is a snap. In TV land, custom and aftermarket parts always fit right,
never require grinding, welding, fabricating, or a dozen trips to the hardware
store to find specialty fasteners on a Sunday. TV is great like that. Reality,
on the other hand, is a bit of a different story.
That little 3-hour project originally planned for a Saturday afternoon in the
garage usually stretches into Sunday, and may even prompt the neighbors to
cover the ears of children as bolt-in parts don't line up, much less bolt in.
This is the unfortunate reality of a world in which design drawings and parts
are often born literally a world apart, and the unsuspecting weekend
customizer is left in the driveway holding the bag—missing a bolt or two.
While a certain amount of discovery is inevitable when attempting to customize
any vehicle, certain steps can be taken ahead of time to keep the trips to the
hardware store, and swearing, down to a bare minimum. First and foremost is
preparation. With the miracle of the Internet upon us, instruction manuals can
often be downloaded ahead of the project, or even prior to the parts purchase.
In this way, one can peer into the steps of the project before it happens and
An instruction sheet, however, will never foretell all potential problems.
It's also a good idea to call the manufacturer directly ahead of time and ask
about the product as it applies to your vehicle, and any other parts included
in the project. Chances are some other pioneering weekend customizer also has
the same car or truck, and has run into similar, if not exactly the same
problem before you.
In general, the more parts replaced, the greater number of problems will
present themselves. This is especially true if different manufacturers come
into play. In a perfect world, each manufacturer would check and see if slot A
fits into slot B of brand C part for a given vehicle, but this is often not
the way it works. Even when it comes to something as seemingly straightforward
as lowering the suspension of a plain old Chevy pickup truck, things can
quickly get complicated.