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Coming up with the best tradie ute setup requires some research.
What you need is a reliable road partner and workhorse that’ll faithfully keep you safe on and off the clock.
The cheapest options no longer cut it, as tradies today require not only tough work trucks but also plenty of safety gear and comfort features. And although price remains a factor, safety, security and versatility are just as important in setting up a tradie ute.
But before you start shopping for ute parts and accessories, you need to know the essential components to create the ultimate tradie ute setup.
The following steps give an overview of common tradie ute requirements when it comes to the versatility of ute accessories and parts. You can use this as your basis when you begin shopping around for key features and accessories to come up with a tradie work ute that works for your profession.
Step 1: Install A Bull Bar For Front Protection
When it comes to tradie ute accessories for front protection, you’ll find a wide selection of bull bar and nudge bar brands which are made to suit particular ute models.
Your final decision will depend a lot on your priorities, budget and aesthetic preferences.
- Nudge bars: A nudge bar consists of a loop of polished aluminium alloy going up and around the radiator. It is usually the most affordable option for front protection, and it can be used for mounting driving lights. Alloy nudge bars are lighter, so they can only protect minor accidents. If most of your driving constitutes winding through urban areas, then nudge bars might provide adequate protection.
- Aluminium alloy bull bars: Since alloys are polished, they tend to look great. However, these require regular buffing with metal polish to maintain their attractive gloss.
- Steel bull bars: Among the different front bars, steel bullbars are considered the cheapest. They require little maintenance, but they are heavy (30 per cent more than alloy or polyethylene/plastic bars). However, if you need to mount a winch, a steel bull bar can take the weight, whilst a polyethylene bar cannot. You can also DIY steel bull bar repair; however, any paint damage exposing the raw metal can lead to corrosion.
- Polyethylene bars: Made of polyethylene or plastic, these bars are lighter than aluminium alloys and are reported to absorb impact better than steel bars and retain their original shape. There is airbag- and winch-compatible models and some also come with various lighting features.
Unlike nudge bars, which are suitable for city driving, bull bars come highly recommended for off-road travel or if you regularly drive through areas where livestock or animals like kangaroos are a concern.
Bull bars provide more protection from heavier impacts and can also be customised to be winch-compatible. Only airbag-approved bull bars or nudge bars should be installed in utes fitted with airbags.
Step 2: Consider Rear Protection Options
Most tradie utes are stationed in or near building or construction sites and work areas.
This means that one wrong move can have you bumping into gravel or brick piles. This can spell disaster, as Aussie and Japanese utes, in general, have weak rear ends and are known to have flimsy bumpers or no bumper at all.
Thus, selecting the right rear bar protection option is an essential step in setting up your tradie ute.
You can pick between a standard tow bar that gives basic protection or customised rear protection bars that are designed to not only look good but to also provide protection to the body, taillights, and more.
Step 3: Identify Your Load Requirements
If your work involves towing, you need to ensure an appropriately rated tow bar. This means that you will only use it to pull items within its towing capacity.
Never attempt to tow a larger load than what is allowed in your vehicle rating. You may refer to your ute handbook for information on its maximum towing capacity.
Another important consideration is the load bed.
A large cargo bed or tray is ideal if you carry plenty of loads every day. The dimensions of this feature can be found in the manufacturer’s brochure.
Step 4: Protect The Tray Of Your Ute
With tools, machinery and equipment being transported from your ute to the worksite daily, you may want to consider protecting your ute tray with an advanced LINE-X spray-on ute liner.
The durable coating will protect your tray from scratching and flaking paint which could lead to rust and corrosion.
To protect your tools and equipment from weathering and prevent loss of tools or hardware during transit, we recommend installing a durable ute tonneau cover. Hard tonneau covers from Bakflip include the ability to lock your tray to reduce the chance of robbery while providing a stylish cover to compliment the look of your ute.
Step 5: Assess Your Storage Needs
Tradies usually carry around tools and supplies (screws, nails, grinders, drills, etc.) necessary for them to carry out their work. This makes adequate storage a major concern when putting together a work ute. Your options include:
- Underbody drawers, which run underneath the tray
- Cargo drawers, which can be fitted into the tray
- Swing cases fitting behind the wheel arches
The kind of tradie ute drawers you choose will depend on the gear you carry regularly. The ute storage solutions your select should allow you to organise your tools and other gear efficiently.
The best tradie toolbox for the back of your ute is one that’s accessible and secure and provides reliable weather protection.
Step 6: Create A Miscellaneous Checklist
There are miscellaneous ute accessory items that can also help make your work as a tradie easier. Depending on your profession and requirements, we recommend creating a checklist of miscellaneous items that could help create the ideal tradie ute setup.
Tie-downs help ensure the load remains steady while the ute is in transit.
While there are plenty of options available, consider installing recessed anchor tie-downs to the floor of the ute tray, as these remain unobtrusive when not in use and are tough, useful, and effective.
Other accessories worth having are cargo bars, which can function as barriers to stop items from moving around the tray while the ute is on the move.
Anti-rattle protection rubbers can also help eliminate noise emanating from items shaking and moving around while you’re in transit. If your work requires you to lug around load on a regular basis, invest in ratchet straps, bar-mounted ratchets, a removable H-bar or rubber ropes as well.
Side Steps and Side Skirts
Running boards, nerf bars, tube steps, step bars, side bars and side steps refer to basically the same thing.
These are individual footholds that extend from underneath the doors on the driver and passenger sides. They are usually installed on vehicles with high suspension or ground clearance and come in various styles and materials.
So, if your ute is a 4×4, side steps are a must for convenience and safety.
Side skirts are located beneath the doorsills, behind the back wheels, and between the ute wheels, and they primarily work to prevent stone chips. They are typically made up of stainless steel or aluminium checker plate strips.
Create Your Dream Tradie Ute Setup
The kind of ute you choose and the accessories you’ll fit it with will depend a lot on your trade.
For example, carpenters and joiners would prioritise getting a factory-option canopy fitted with roof bars that are capable of carrying large sheets and timber. They would also need a lockable compartment and security grilles for their power tools.
Builders and bricklayers would need a tradie ute setup with a higher payload for carrying heavy materials (e.g., bricks and bags of mortar) and equipment such as cement mixers.
Tradies who work in out-of-the-way sites might do well to opt for a 4×4 tradie ute setup that’s built for rough terrain.
If you need help finding the accessories you need for your ultimate tradie ute setup, contact one of our Australian locations with workshops located in most Australian states.