If you are anything like me, you look at every new truck that comes out, and you want it! Every new feature, and every safety feature means you want to put your current truck up for sale and buy the newest best thing!
Did you know that instead of having to buy a new truck every year, you can instead just add the newest features, or upgrade your truck to look the way you want.
Of course, if you have been in the truck world for long, you probably did, however here is a list of all the ways I could think of to upgrade your truck to make it just as nice (if not nicer) than that new truck that just came out.
Firstly, let’s start with the exterior of the truck. This is the first thing you see when you walk up to your truck, and is also what everyone else sees (not that that should matter too much). You will also find next to the title, how difficult it is going to be, each will range from easy, medium, and difficult. I would recommend starting with the easy options and go from there!
1. New Grill – Easy
This is the first thing that I would upgrade on my truck. Most trucks only hold on their grill with just a couple of bolts, so this can be changed out in minutes, in most cases.
It also can give your truck a super aggressive look. You will find many Ford owners tend to swap out their standard F-150 grills over to the Raptor style with the 3 lights in it.
- Is easy to change out, at least on my truck anyways.
- Makes a huge difference in the look of the truck
- Some have built in LEDs that can help with your visibility to other drivers
- There aren’t a ton of cheap options
- This will probably take two people to do
2. Side Steps – Medium
Adding new side steps are a great way to make your truck look great. You can get a really wide range of styles, colors, and capabilities. There is also a wide range of qualities, and price as well. So you can do this for a rather inexpensive price. Just make sure the side steps you buy come with everything you need, especially the brackets, as some don’t come with that.
Depending on the version you choose, you can also get rock steps that can save your truck from rocks when you are off-roading.
Side steps can also range from the type of steps that go all the way back through the front and back doors, or you can choose some that are just a single step under the drivers door, it’s your choice.
- Makes your truck easier to access
- Would go great with a lift (we’ll talk about that later)
- Adds just a little bit more flair to the side of your vehicle
- So many different styles to choose from, for every truck
- Will probably take quite a few tools to do
- You can lose some ground clearance if you aren’t careful
- Can be expensive
3. New Headlights – Medium
Now this is probably my all time favorite category for making your truck more modern. Lighting is quickly becoming the big new thing, I mean look at the F-150 Raptor, or the light bar on the back of the new Porsche’s.
Regardless, your truck probably has the old school halogen headlights, and you want it to look like the new trucks with the LED headlights, and the LED driving lights that look so cool.
Well you are in luck, you can have them! There is a wide range of quality, prices, and styles all over the internet.
I will mention, I have spent a lot of time researching these. There are quite a few out there that don’t just plug in and will take some wiring, and there are some that don’t seem to have the quality needed to illuminate even as well as your stock headlights. So make sure you do your research!
Of course, the other option is to just restore your headlights like I did until I can find the headlights I really want for a good price. You can read about how to do that in this article here.
- Can completely modernize the front of your truck
- May make your truck even safer if the right ones are bought
- Driving lights are included on most trucks, meaning you are more visible during the day, even without the headlights on
- Lots of not great products on the market you have to sift through
- This is one of the few you don’t want to go too cheap on
4. Fog Lights – Medium
Fog lights have been around for quite some time, but have become much more standard on trucks in more recent years. Adding LED fog lights that are the same light color as your headlights will really tie together your older truck’s lighting.
These can actually be purchased for a rather inexpensive price, and most people could probably install them without an issue. The hardest part will likely be running the switch through the firewall and into the truck cabin.
- Keeps you safe in the fog
- Looks great
- Is rather easy to install when instructions are followed
- Is electrical, which many people (like me) try to avoid
- Not everyone has a place to install fog lights on their vehicle
5. Tail Lights – Easy
Now that we have talked a bit about headlights, tail lights come into the picture! This is my second favorite addition to a truck, and would quickly follow up the before mentioned headlights.
Many of the aftermarket tail lights today can be purchased to match the headlights, and for the most part I would recommend this.
You will be looking for tail lights that are LED, that are bright, and higher quality.
These will probably be a bit easier to install as you are working outside of the truck, instead of under the hood.
- Better visibility during the day, and at night for other traffic on the road
- Modernizes the rear of the truck, which not many other things do on this list
- Easy, quick install, and most should be done in a couple minutes
- Much like headlights, there are cheap versions I wouldn’t recommend
- Safety concern if you buy these wrong, and are not bright enough
6. LED Light Bar – Medium
While this isn’t something that is standard on new vehicles (except of course the Mercedes G550 Squared), but is a great inexpensive way to upgrade the lighting on your truck.
Make sure when you are buying this that you get the right length light bar, the right brackets, and make sure you know how to install it before buying.
There are a couple different light bars to choose from, and locations to install them.
- Can really brighten up your day (yep, that happened)
- Surprisingly inexpensive to buy and install
- Not for everyone, as some people don’t like them at all
- These are not really road legal, so you can’t use them unless you are off-road
- You have to drill holes in your truck to install
7. New Wheels – Easy
Buying new wheels is an extremely easy way to dramatically change, and update the look of your truck. I say easy, but not cheap unfortunately. This can also quickly cost you $1000 or more to do effectively and safely.
It’s mainly easy because, well… you won’t be doing it. Most people aren’t able to put tires on their wheels, so you will have to take it down to your local tire store.
The hardest part about this will be choosing the right ones (and the right size) and then finding a way to get them all into the bed of your truck.
For me… while I save up, Plasti Dip ended up solving this issue for a while.
Also, I personally would wait until you need to replace your tires before doing this. As you wouldn’t want to waste money on the still existing tread you have on your current tires.
- Dramatic change in the look of your truck
- Can make your truck drive nicer
- Works well with a lift kit being installed at the same time
- Extremely expensive
8. New Hood – Medium
This may not be something many people are aware of, but buying a new hood is actually something you can do. Many trucks now days have quite a few options with different styles and functionality.
I have found from my research though, that because this is such a large body panel, and what you are buying is not OEM, there likely will be a few panel gaps on pretty much any one you buy.
If you can get past that issue, then these would probably be really cool to use and update your ride.
This also would be an awesome thing to change out in conjunction with getting a new grill. As you will need to be removing and adding the grill to the new hood in most trucks.
- Dramatically changes the aggressiveness of your truck
- Huge range of choices for most trucks
- Easy to install for the most part
- Will take two people to change out hood
- Hood will need to be painted, wrapped or plasti dipped after purchase
9. Off Road Bumpers – Difficult
A new bumper can really change the look of your truck, and most people tend to go with off-road bumpers!
While it may not make it look like a brand new truck, it does make it durable, and can bring those hard lines you are looking for.
Another great option is a Bull Bar, which here is a list of some of the best for the Ram 1500.
- Keeps your truck from being damage when going off-road
- Looks cool
- Can be difficult to put on
- Extremely heavy
10. New paint, wrap or Plasti Dip – Difficult
If you have a truck anything like mine, and is older, you probably have lots of scratches, blemishes and more. New paint, a wrap, or if you are on a budget plasti dip, may be a great option to help it look just that much newer.
- Completely changes everything about your truck
- Can allow for you to be completely creative with the styling
- Can be expensive depending on what direction you take
11. Lift kit – Difficult
Modern companies more than any other time in history are pushing off-road capable vehicles. This means they are higher, and more aggressive looking.
A lift kit not only helps you get some extra ground clearance, but it can also make it more modern. Companies used to not prefer off-road vehicles (look at the Ford F-150 lightning for example), so lifting it a bit brings it back into this modern era.
I will mention, there are quite a few different ways you can lift your truck, some cheap, and some expensive. I personally wouldn’t recommend some of the cheaper methods, and would recommend actually changing out suspension components instead of just modifying the ones you have.
- Is extremely functional
- Gives your truck more ground clearance for off-road
- Can be expensive in both parts and labor
- Can affect towing and drivability if not done correctly
Now that we have gotten the exterior modifications out of the way, we can start to focus on the interior. This is where you spend the most time with your vehicle, so it should be modern as well.
Honestly, until rather recently, trucks were not really built to be nicer vehicles on the inside, as they were sold to people who work in them, and not as people haulers. However as we have moved on, trucks have become much more like cars.
So here are some great ideas as to how you can modernize your truck, and make it as nice as possible!
12. Double Din Touch Screen Head Unit
This is where I would start with any truck interior. Make sure to get a good quality, and as minimal as possible double din touch-screen head unit. The new trucks have huge infotainment set ups, so why shouldn’t you?
Also, while manufacturers are catching up with Apple Carplay, and Android Auto, you can have it by just buying aftermarket. Most of these also include navigation, bluetooth, auxiliary cables, and so much more.
Let me also say, I would recommend that most people have this professionally installed. As you don’t want to cross wires, and cause a fire in your vehicle.
- Big change to the interior of your vehicle that you look at constantly
- Super usable, as you will get many features new vehicles have
- Most people will want this professionally installed
13. Tinted Windows – Difficult
While this may not be a “modern” thing it does make your truck look much nicer, and that is what we are going for. It also will make your truck cooler (temperature wise) by letting in less light.
Make sure if you are doing this, to abide by any laws you have in your state. Also, making them too dark causes it to be more difficult to drive at night.
This can be a difficult project, as you want to make sure it looks good now, as well as years into the future. Window tint can tend to bubble up with age, so I personally would recommend having a professional do this one.
- Is both practical and looks good
- You really should just have a professional install this
14. New steering wheel – Difficult
I’m not sure if I’m a bit odd or not, but this is the biggest tell tale sign of an older vehicle. It is what you look and use the most while you are driving, however some of the earlier trucks tend to have extremely outdated steering wheel styling.
Unfortunately this is also a difficult one to change out though, you need to make sure you can retain the air bag, and also make sure the steering wheel you are changing over to is able to work with your vehicle.
It can be done, but it is just one of the more difficult things to do on this list.
- Can completely change the look of your interior
- Can add functions if the new steering wheel has additional buttons
- Is difficult to match up other steering wheels
- Most generic steering wheels don’t come with airbags
15. Interior Decals – Easy
This can be an extremely effective way to make your interior much more modern. Doing a quick search, you will find that most vehicles can have interior pieces covered up by what is essentially stickers
These can range from carbon fiber styling to wood trim! It really is your choice. They will generally attach to door panels, around the stereo and more.
I would make sure you get a quality brand, as you also don’t want to make your truck look cheap, and this is an easy way to do that.
- Is overall an easy project to do
- Can look cheap if not done right, or wrong product is chosen
16. Custom Gauges – Difficult
Older trucks like mine tend to have gauges where lights go out, and the gauges themselves just seem to become outdated. Thankfully there are some great options out there to switch this out!
This can prove to be rather difficult to do, but can range by vehicle I am sure.
- You look at your dash a lot, why not make it look great
- It can add some functionality depending on how much you upgrade it
- Tearing apart your dash is never fun and can prove to be difficult
17. Upgraded speakers – Medium
Upgrading your sound system, more specifically your speakers can quickly change the feel of your truck. Older trucks will generally have that one speaker that is constantly rattling, and they just can’t stand up to more modern systems.
This would also be a great one to change at the same time as your switch to the double din touch screen, as you will be hooking up the speakers to it anyways.
- Your sound system will sound so much better
- Music can actually be heard correctly, instead of hearing that constant rattle
- Doesn’t really aesthetically change your vehicle
18. Seat covers, or new seats – Easy/Medium
I feel like every truck I look at that is older than 2007 or so has that one huge tear on the driver’s seat.
A great way to just make your interior feel nicer and more modern is to add either new seats, or if you are on a budget, then some nicer seat covers.
Now a days, there are some great options for both for decent prices. Just need to make sure they fit correctly.
- Both versions are relatively easy to install, seat covers obviously being easier
- You can see your seats from the outside, and inside of the vehicle
- Can make your truck more comfortable
- Seats can be expensive
- Seat covers tend to wear easily from what I have found
Your truck is one of your main pieces of gear, and it is important to enjoy it! I hope this list gave you some great ideas to start out with when making your truck more modern. I also hope maybe it saved you a couple bucks over buying a brand new truck, when your current one may have been just as good!
If you want my opinion on where to start, I personally would start with headlights, tail lights, and the grill. Then from there move to the interior and replace the stereo with a double din touch screen.
If you liked this article, you may also like this other article about how you can make money with your truck, even starting today.