Our Top 10 Must Have Aftermarket Truck Accessories

Often times customers ask us: where should I start with Aftermarket truck parts? We used to ask what specifically you use your truck for, but then we started to realize a trend. There are certain aftermarket parts that nearly every truck owner needs. So here's our top 10 truck accessories.

Our Top 10 for 2020

Figure this may be subject to change from year to year, though it might not vary much. Nevertheless, here's our list for 2020 of every Aftermarket Part that is a must have for anybody who owns a pickup truck, in no particular order:

  • Step Bars
  • Tonneau Cover
  • Programmers / Tuners
  • Air Intakes
  • Bug Shield / Vent Visors
  • Floor Liners
  • Bed Liners
  • Bed Storage & Tool Boxes
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Wheels & Tires

Step Bars

Nerf bars, running boards, and step bars all serve similar main functions: they help you get into and out of your vehicle. Often times, this is one of the first purchases a new truck owner will make, especially on a full sized pickup, as it can become tedious having to make a huge step up into the cab of the vehicle time and time again.

Step Nerf bars and running boards make it much easier to get in and out. This is true. But the original purpose of a Nerf bar is also to protect your vehicle from collisions and fender benders. Nerf bars actually got their start on the race track as a tool to prevent one race car's wheels from getting tangled up with another vehicles and potentially flipping one or both cars. These days step Nerf bars protect your truck from rocks when cruising down country roads and the dreaded shopping cart and door checks of your every day parking lot experiences.

Step bars, running boards, and Nerf bars come in a variety of styles: from the traditional oval step bars to hoop nerf bars to powered running boards. Each has its own aesthetic value and function. The creme-de-la-creme of running boards is the AMP Research Powerstep, shown at left/below. It automatically bends up and down when in use and when you are driving. As far as step bars go, we are partial to the Iron Cross Side Arm Step Bars.

We stock a wide variety of step bars, from all the leading American manufacturers. When in doubt, if you have any questions, hit us up on the phone, via email, or our live chat. You can also check out our research on step bars in our Product Center under Exterior.

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Tonneau Covers

Truck bed covers are one of the most important aftermarket products for any truck owner. Whether you're looking to protect your truck bed itself, the gear and equipment you often haul in your truck bed, improve your fuel economy, or just give your truck's bed a sleek look, a tonneau cover is an much needed upgrade for your pickup.

While many customer's opt to install a tonneau cover for the added security features, truck bed covers can also improve your miles per gallon by upwards of 2%, which translates to about a 1 mile per gallon improvement. If you opt for a well designed, durable aftermarket cover, the product really will pay for itself over its lifetime.

The next question is which style of tonneau you desire or is best for your use. If style and aesthetic appeal is what you crave, a soft roll-up tonneau cover with a vinyl top brings that low-profile look with a sleek finish. If what you want is more security, Need more security than style? Try a hard folding cover. Tri-folds are made of everything from aluminum to fiberglass. The only real trade-off is folding tonneau covers are a little more involved when it comes to opening the cover to gain full bed access. So if you really want to maximize security and ease of access, a hard retractable cover might be the best of both worlds.

At the end of the day, selecting the right tonneau for your ride has more to do with how you use your truck bed and what look you think best compliments your paint job. If you're having trouble deciding, we have even more research in our Product Center under Exterior on all things tonneau. When in doubt, message us on live chat, via email, or just give us a call. We can help you get the right truck bed cover for your pickup.

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Performance Programmers & Tuners

Tuners and programmers are nuanced. By that I mean some of them are very advanced and require some knowledge to use, while others are extremely simple and plug and play. So let’s start here: no matter how much you understand about your engine, your ECU/PCM (the engine or powertrain’s computer), or even torque/horsepower gains, we have a tuner of some kind for you. Nearly every programmer we sell simply plugs into your ODBII port underneath your steering wheel and works. In other words, most of them are plug and play.

The Noob or more Simple options involve things like modules. These cartridge like tuners just plug into your ODBII port and work. You don’t have to push a button or do anything at all. There are different mods designed to do different things. If you are looking to maximize your towing capabilities, there’s a cart for that. You want more gas mileage? We’ve got one of those. Just looking to shut off that annoying AFM (Active Fuel Management) or MDS (Multiple Displacement System) which limits how many cylinders your engine is using at any time. We’ve got those too! While cart mods aren’t complex, they do the things they claim to do very well and easily. Truly plug and play.

More advanced options include throttle response controller systems, like Pedal Commander, which plug into your factory harness above your accelerator. These throttle controllers adjust how your engine responses when you press down on the gas pedal. They often include Eco modes designed to increase your MPGs as well as Performance or Power modes designed to maximize torque and horsepower, as well as maxing out how fast your vehicle can accelerate.

For the pro or those ready to make the leap to a full out programmer, we have touchscreen programmers capable of loading custom tunes. These performance tuners are able to do everything we’ve listed so far and much more. The best models on the market today even allow you to have advanced control over things like interior lights and spark plug timing.

Finally there's the gauge screen option. Some customers just want to be able to monitor more aspects of their engines performance than their stock HUD allows. For those unique individuals, the gauge touchscreen is perfect for this. Many of these products even allow the user to select specifically what gauges they want to display and where on the screen.

And should you desire the touchscreen gauge plus tuning options, many of our performance programmers have this option too. At the end of the day, while this may be the most costly option, it is also the most versatile. A full performance tuner really can do it all. Many even have the option to upload custom tunes from your computer or from pro tuners directly to your vehicle. Some can even update via WiFi. The bottom line is this: no matter where you are in the tuning game as far as experience goes, there's a product out there for you. When in doubt, hit us up via phone or live chat. We'll help you get the right performance tuner or programmer for your needs and your skill level.

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Air Intakes

The root of your engine, the air intake is actually what allows your vehicle to get moving, cause without air, you're dead in the water. I remember when I first learned all about combustion engines back in shop class. Turns out, as you all likely recall, it's the oxygen that really makes you move. You need the gas too, but the catalyst is O2.

With this in mind, we can see why having the proper air intake can really change the performance of your vehicle. We highly recommend a cold air intake. The cool air helps to keep your engine in the optimal heat zone. Every little bit helps when you're trying to push your truck to the limit.

Of course, your air filter is also crucial to your intake, so when shopping around, keep this in mind. The idea is to get maximum airflow into your engine and maximum out (see Exhaust Systems below). But first, that air has gotta be clean.

Most performance drivers tend to opt for oiled air filters. While they require a little more work to maintain, they do offer a slight boost in horsepower. However, your climate has a lot to do with selecting an intake and air filter system. If you live in a particularly dry, desert-like environment, you really should be rocking a dry filter. The dust and air particles so common in dry climates can clog up your oiled air filter super fast.

Finally, if you're looking for a low maintenance filter, there's nothing wrong with stick with dry. We sell a variety of top quality filters and intakes. If you want to learn more about Air Filters, check out this article first. Otherwise, get to shopping!

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Vent Visors & Bug Shields

Often one of the simplest DIY installs involve Vent Visors. The In-Channel variety in particular just pops up into the channel of your window. While customers install them for a number of different reasons, they help protect your window from water damage especially if you ever drive with the window cracked during a rain storm or just like to leave your windows slightly down during the summer months. We've all had it happen. You left your window cracked because it was so damn hot, and then a sudden shower hits and your seat is soaked. Vent Visors help mitigate this common problem by keeping rain out even when your windows are cracked.

Bug shields are all about deflecting bugs and other debris away from your hood and windshield. If you do a lot of night driving, honestly this is a must. These days both Vent Visors and Bug shields come in a lot of different styles, from color matching your paint job, to matte black. FormFit recently even released a Bug Shield that is Pocket style so it can match your Fender Flares. Very nice move indeed!

These low cost aftermarket accessories are a great way to break into modifying your truck or Jeep. As an added bonus, they look really nice on your vehicle and helps protect your paint job and your interior. If you want to learn more about Vent Visors, check out this article on Vent Visors & Window Deflectors. Otherwise, start finding your style below!

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And your Windows Too!

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Floor Liners (not to be confused with Floor Mats)

Perchance we should get that out of the way first. Floor liners are custom fit to your vehicle, typically using digital computer technology and laser beams. Floor mats are just mats that go on your floor. For a more elaborate explanation read this article all about Floor Mat and Liner Terminology.

In the meantime, let's talk Floor Liners. You need some. These are custom liners that fit the contours of your vehicle's floor. Husky and WeatherTech are the most popular names to come to mind. Not only are these products easy to install, they also increase resale value of your truck or Jeep.

How do they do that? you might ask. These floor liners prevent muck, dirt, grime, and sludge from getting ground into your interior carpet. This keeps wear and tear to a minimum. On top of that, these waterproof liners collect and pool liquid spills within the material of the liner, preventing your floor from getting wet and damaged.

Both Husky and WeatherTech have a number of designs and colors to choose from. So I guess the question isn't whether or not you want a set of floor liners. The real question is which brand to choose from. And for that, we'll need more real estate than this page provides. Read the full debate here: Husky Liners Vs WeatherTech--the Eternal Struggle.

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Digital Fit with Freakin' Laser Beams

Husky or WeatherTech?

Truck Bed Liners

You need one--stat! Without a bed liner, you are likely damaging your truck's bed with every piece of equipment you haul, every rain storm that hits, every single time you drive it. Also, these days you have a lot of great options for truck bed liners, including custom done decal liners, like the one shown here by DualLiners. And if you don't want a full liner, you can check out Bedrug.

Shown above, the Bedrug is like a carpet for your truck bed. Except this carpet is marine grade and tough as snot. We love Bedrug and their Impact and XLT mats because they are extremely durable while being easy on your knees. If you've ever had to crawl around in your truck bed before, whether you're helping someone move or just grabbing something out of your toolbox, then you know it is simply murder on your knees. A good liner with a mat or a Bedrug will save your knees and protect your truck bed.

Ultimately, the battle between these various brands and options is real. Finding the right protection for your truck bed has to do with what you think looks cool, whether you want camo or not, for instance, what provides the best protection for your needs, and what has the best grip or feel for you personally. For instance, BedRug's XLT and Impact mats are two great options, and picking between the two might be hard. Read this article for some help making this tough call. And to educate yourself on DualLiners options, check out this one.

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Truck Bed Organizers, Toolboxes, & Storage

The next thing you need for your truck bed is some kind of storage solution. Your options here truly are legion. If you want a more traditional toolbox that rides up near that cab, we've got plenty of those to offer. If you want something unique, we have a lot of great options for you. Really it comes down to what you want to haul regularly in your bed.

Decked Truck Bed Organizers, shown above/right, involve two drawers and additional storage areas that run throughout the length of your truck's bed. Custom fit to your specific make and model, these Decked Systems really do maximize storage while still leaving you plenty of space on top to haul massive loads of large equipment.

Another full length option is the Bedslide and Slidezilla. These trays mount onto a rack system on your truck bed. Then they slide out the back end of your bed making loading and unloading easy. I wish we'd had one of these the last time I helped my brother-in-law move.

Finally, another innovative option is the SwingCase from UnderCover, shown below. You can install two of these puppies in the back of your truck bed. They utilize the space behind your wheel wells that typically goes wasted anyway. Each back locks and can hold a lot of gear and beer, if you're into such things.

No matter what organizational system you choose, we've got something for you!

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Exhaust Systems

If you thought intake was important (and complicated) just wait for exhaust systems. These babies are the back half of your air flow conundrum. And if you want to learn all about one of the most complicated aspects of a total aftermarket overhaul, you should check out our Exhaustive Series on Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Exhausts here.

Here's the quick version. Exhausts come in a variety of styles / lengths. Whatever the name for the exhaust, this tells you where the new aftermarket system would be installed and that it replaces everything from there on back. Some examples:

Cat-Back: replaces everything behind your Catalytic Converter back to the Muffler and Tip

Axle-Back: Just replaces the muffler and exhaust tips and maybe a bit of pipe

DPF-Back: on a diesel truck, replaces everything from the DPF back to the muffler/tips

Header-Back: the most complex, replaces everything from your exhaust headers back

Downpipe-Back: replaces everything except your downpipe

Now some of these systems are... let's just say, "not street legal" if you catch our drift. But if you're off-roading or racing, then dive on in. If not, the most common exhaust upgrades are Cat-back followed by Axle-back.

While Exhausts systems can be intimidating, for someone really looking to tweak their engine and get max horsepower, you've gotta upgrade your exhaust. Read our research to help you and then give us a call or email. We'll help hook you up with the best pipes around.

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Wheels & Tires

I fear that these two are often intimidating too. But never fear, we've got you covered with some great products and excellent research. Here's the long version: Tires & Wheels Guide.

Whether you've lifted your truck or not, those stock rims gotta go. When you're ready to lose the training wheels, head on over and find some new Wheels. Our guide above will help you find Wheels and Tires that will fit your vehicle.

Once you've got the new Wheels picked out, you have some decisions to make beyond buying something cool. Do you mostly off-road? Do you need all-terrain tires? You'll need to decide what tires are best for your driving conditions. Ideally, you could even change it up each season. For the low down on the tires and wheels, see that full length guide above or give us a call or live chat.

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and Bigger Tires too!

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