Semi Truck Customization Guide

There are a lot of different reasons that make commercial truck driving one of the most unique careers in the country. Various types of employees are required to drive as part of their job description, but they’re just visitors in a world of real veteran drivers. It’s quite often that drivers need to treat their truck as more than just their transportation. When you’re required to drive for hundreds and hundreds of miles on end, it’s more than just a truck; it’s your home on wheels!

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Paint – Lighting – Chrome – Cab Interior – Tires and Fenders

Customized Olive Green Kenworth Truck

Credit: SemiTrckn.tumblr.com

A vehicle that you depend on to survive is obviously a point of intense pride. This is exactly why most drivers are interested in customizing their truck in one way or another to varying degrees. There is an endless array of options when it comes to making your truck your own. Here are some of the best ways to put your own style on your rig:

Exterior Modifications

It’s not hard to imagine why a lot of drivers will spend most of their budget on the elements that can be seen on the outside of the truck. That is obviously what is going to make an impression. There are only a privileged few who will actually have the honor of climbing up into the cab themselves. Exterior mods can add functionality or protections, but sometimes they’re just about making a statement. Custom paint jobs, lighting installations, chrome parts, fenders, wheels, and even hood ornaments are popular choices when you’re ready to start adding your own personal touch.

We recommend sitting down with a pencil and paper to plan out your customizations budget. If you’re not careful, you could easily end up spending a lot more than you bargained for. Consider what is most important to you. Obviously, if you have any safety concerns, those should be on the top of your list. Below are some of the most popular areas to think about.

Paint to Match Your Style

One of the most obvious and eye-catching personalizations are customized paint jobs. Some drivers may think of fully switching over to a new color when they consider getting paint work done while others are dreaming about something a little more flashy like hand painted art effects. Check out this jaw-dropping, totally patriotic Peterbilt.

Custom Painted Peterbilt Truck

Credit: 500px.com

Or for something with a little more subtlety with just as much style, check out this black and silver International with a little orange stripe detail that does a good job of highlighting the signature orange in the International logo. Many drivers are limited as far as how flashy they can go with their paint. Depending on what you’re hauling and who you drive for, you may want to stay on the conservative side with your new paint.

International Black & Silver with Orange Detail

Credit: SuburbanMen.com

While custom paint jobs are one of the best ways to improve the appearance of your truck, they surly aren’t cheap (especially for high quality work.) It may be your best bet to find someone local that has a good reputation. If you’re in Arizona, we’ve heard great things about All Pro Fleet Painting’s work. They have some huge painting booths that are perfect for nearly any size truck.

How Much Will A New Paint Job Cost?

If you’re serious about getting some new paint on the truck, you’ve got to be wondering how much this is going to cost you. There are obviously a lot of different factors that go into the final cost of a paint job; model of truck, area of the country, which paint booth, how many colors, level of detail, and artwork. You can usually get a better price by offering to remove the stacks, visors, mirrors, grill, and lights yourself. This can cut down on the labor time for the paint booth.

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Low End Estimate for a Standard Job
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High End Estimate for a Standard Job
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Base Price for Full Job w/ Custom Artwork Included

Your Own Rolling Light Show

Headlights, turn signals, and break lights are obviously mandatory when it comes to lighting your truck. However, every veteran driver with a sense of style knows that those are just beginner level when it comes to lighting up your lane with a little bit of personality. When the sun goes down you can’t see your fancy paint job or any shiny chrome, but that doesn’t mean fun time is over until the sun comes back up. This is where your lighting can finally take over!

This Peterbilt is lit up like the 4th of July: complete with cab chicken lights, trailer lights, and a lot of other custom led light installations that really make this truck POP!

Peterbilt Light Show

Credit: Walcott Trucker Light Show via. “Road Life US” Facebook Page

This green Kenworth had installed some grill and under body lighting that does a good job of nearly matching up with the paint color of the truck. I would have to dub this truck the “Green Goblin” if it were mine.

Kenworth w/ Custom Green Lighting

Credit: semitrckn.tumblr.com

LED Light Bars are a great way to quickly and easily add aftermarket lighting to your truck in a way that has a neat and organized appearance. If you’re looking to add a lot of lighting around the cab and sleeper, you might want to find some custom products that are designed to work with your type of truck. You can get light bars fairly cheap too. They start around $25 and go up from there.

Chicken Light Kits are the next step in adding customized panels to your truck that provide a surface for additional lighting. These do a great job of outlining your cab and giving your truck a very cool and unique look at night. You can buy the different panels piece by piece, there’s no reason to have to trick out the entire truck at once. Unless your budget permits, then go for it!

Chrome, Chrome, & More Chrome

Everyone knows a driver that is really serious about their chrome. There are chrome parts that you can buy for almost every single area on the truck. Some of the most common areas for chrome installation are the front grille/bumper, exhaust, tool boxes, gas tanks, and window trim. However, you could almost completely cover your rig in chrome if that’s what your style was!

Chrome Heavy Rig

Credit: SuburbanMen.com

Let’s say you want to start adding some chrome. Before you get started, take a moment to think about your budget and where you want to get started. It’s a good idea to think about the balance of chrome on the body of the truck. You might not want to add a bunch up front all at once. It could look more even to start with a bit on the front and maybe some on the sides with your tanks or battery box. If you’re mind’s set on the shiny stuff, then let’s talk some prices here:

Chrome Part Price Overview

Part Type Peterbilt Kenworth International Freightliner
Grilles $300 – $800 $190 – $990 $280 – $920 $185 – $540
Front Bumper $320 – $1,595 $506 – $877 $318 – $504 $320 – $600
8″ Stack Kits $2,179 – $4,900 $2,399 – $3,079 Universal Parts $2,170 – $2,653
Battery/Tool Box $399 – $1,164 $349 – $1,742 $189 – $610 $131 – $1,164
Air Cleaner Kit $399 – $544 $399 – $500 Universal Parts Universal Parts

*Prices from BigRigChromeShop.com

Interior Modifications

The cabin, cockpit, battle station, drivers seat, no matter what you call it – this is your home on the road. There are a variety of products you can add or tweaks you can make to ensure that this area is a great place to be. Some of the major elements to think about when outfitting your cabin are; work productivity, comfort, and personal health.

It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts…

You could blow your whole customization budget on paint, lights, and chrome before evening thinking about upgrading anything on the interior. There are a lot of drivers out there who would agree that that’s a big mistake. It’s great to have a nice looking truck, but considering that you’re going to be spending all of your time on the inside looking out, you don’t want to forget about your interior! There are a million different ways you can change things up inside the cab and the sleeper (if your truck has one).

A Comfortable Interior

Credit: UltimateSemiTrucks.com

When you’re spending hundreds of hours per month driving from state to state, the right seat can make all the difference. A budget friendly option to spruce up an old worn out seat is to add a seat cover. If your seat is too far passed its prime, you might want to consider replacing it entirely with something that’s more comfortable and probably safer too. Bostrom, Knoedler, and Prime are great seating companies to consider.

The steering wheel and shifter knob are points of nearly constant contact for drivers. You’re going to want something with an ergonomic design, but also something that looks cool too. There are endless options ranging from choices that are practical to some that are more on the flashy side.

Peterbilt Custom Steering Wheel

Credit: TruckPaper.com

The custom shifter knob is one of those things that you commonly see in movies, but is it really that practical? That really only depends on your preference. If you’re not concerned with the ergonomics, then you have room to get truly bizarre with it (if you want). You can keep it vanilla with the stock knob, or get crazy with one of these:

Amber Glitter Shifter Knob from Iowa 80
Pistol Grip Shifter Knob from Iowa 80
Wolf Top Hat Shifter Knob from Iowa 80
Wood Grain Shifter Knob from Iowa 80

Credit: Iowa80.com

Finding and installation interior electronics can make all the difference when it comes to staying happy and healthy inside the truck. They can help you do your job better as well. If you’re spending a lot of time on the road, you know that it can be hard to find good quality meals. It makes it a lot easier when you have a small fridge or other kitchen appliances. A 12v slow cooker can be a great option because it doesn’t require a lot of prep work and it also makes delicious meals.

12v DC Chest Fridge

Credit: CompactAppliance.com

Consider getting a laptop stand, especially if your employer requires you to keep your logs on a computer. It can make managing your space much easier. There are even some ‘no-drill’ options that make the installation much less of a headache. Semi truck laptop stands start at about $200 and go up from there.

Cover Those Tires & Stay Clean

Drivers know that there’s nothing worse than spraying mud all over a freshly washed truck with shiny, glossy paint. Not to mention that road spray can do a lot worse than just making your truck dirty. If your wheels aren’t covered you can be spraying water and throwing rocks all over the road. Don’t be surprised if you have a line of angry soccer moms following closely behind you.

You can easily avoid this problem entirely and add some style to your truck with poly fenders. Plastic fenders are great because you don’t have to worry about them cracking or easily breaking from minor impacts which are bound to happen. Our fender systems are a great way to add protection and some style to your rig. You can even add some mud flaps for additional protection if needed.

Robmar Silver SAF-225 Poly Fender

Plan and Prioritize Your Upgrades

When you’re trying to prioritize your upgrades, think about the effect that each new part will have. Some parts are only going to provide a visual benefit. It’s possible that you would be better off selecting parts that have more of a practical function first. Fenders and mud flaps will help keep your truck clean and protect that rest of your upgrades. New tires can provide better traction to help reduce the chance of an accident in inclimate weather. A seating upgrade can provide upgraded safety in the unlikely event of an accident. These are all important things to consider when you lay out your budget for your new installations.

Cool Custom Semi

Credit: NextTruckOnline.com

No matter how you choose to customize your truck, it will never be a fully completed job. There’s always another part to consider or swap to think about. The most important part is that you make your truck exactly what you need it to be for style, safety, and most importantly the fun of it!

Do you have any recommendations for customizing your truck? How about anything that we missed? Leave a comment below.

2017-07-27T12:32:33+00:00

2 Comments

  1. Cary September 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Any dealers in Saskatchewan, Canada

    • admin September 27, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

      Not yet. But we’re looking into expanding in the area soon!

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