Increasing Practicality Without Draining the Bank

March 24th, 2011

By Chris Neprasch

Product: Go Rhino! Dominator III Side Steps

Bang-for-Buck Factor: When a significant other warns if your truck sits a centimeter higher without doing something to make it easier to get in and out of the cab, it would be followed by a call to a divorce attorney, the value of a set of quality running boards goes through the roof. Finding an affordable set that would serve the function of a traditional running board while still looking good was handled with a call to Go Rhino! for a set of black Dominator III side steps.

The Dominator III is Go Rhino’s latest step that features a wheel-to-wheel with three drop-down steps and retails for less than $500 in black powder coating. Depending on the application, there is usually no drilling required to install the steps although the 2500HD does require it. Drilling or not, the steps made from 3-inch-round tubing is compatible with body lifts and the step pads can be removed for cleaning or to color-match. Go Rhino! backs the black steps with a five-year guarantee and the polished steps get a lifetime warranty.

Running boards aren’t small items. The length and size of the boxes can lead to extra freight charges for the do-it-yourself type when transporting a one-piece step like the Dominator III we put on the 2500HD with its crew cab and long box. To minimize oversized shipping fees, Go Rhino! developed a modular design that breaks down into a small enough package to be sent via UPS.

There’s the Dominator III steps definitely changed the overall look of Budget Bowtie’s exterior. In day-to-day use however, the convenience of going from a truck with no running boards to the Go Rhino! side steps was as welcomed as the improved aesthetics, especially the built-in third step that made reaching over the bed’s side rail much easier. Because the Dominator III steps get used every time we get in and out of the truck it makes justifying the expense simple, too.


Go Rhino!


Product: Al’s Liner DIY Bed Liner With Spray Gun

Bang-for-Buck Factor: If they don’t have it yet, a spray-in bedliner is at the top of many truck owners’ wish lists to protect the box from regular use that would have otherwise caused damage. Many professionally installed bedliners are shot out of a high-pressure gun at high temperatures with chemicals not always legal to use without a permit. Roll-on DIY liners are more convenient for the driveway mechanic, although installation can be time-consuming and the consistency can vary. Al’s Liner saw an opening in the market and created a product capable of producing a professional finish with a regular air compressor.

Al’s Liner says its 100-percent UV-resistant polyurethane liner is a chip, scratch, and tear-resistant, tintable bed liner that requires about 40mm of thickness for years of bed protection. The liner installs in four steps and can be applied using the optional spray gun that operates on between 10 and 70 psi with the ability to change textures. Once applied, Al’s Liner is ready for heavy use in three days.

While it may be targeted to the DIY audience, we took Budget Bowtie to Ranch Muffler Truck and Jeep Accessories, in Temecula, California, to have the Al’s Liner Bedliner applied. From a shop owner’s perspective, keeping a few gallons of Al’s Liner allowed Ranch Muffler to enter the spray-in bedliner market without investing upfront in equipment, spray booth and EPA permits. If a customer wants a color-matched bedliner, all it takes is a color code and replacing the black coloring agent with the desired hue from regular automotive paint.

It took about 2½-gallons of the liner that costs about $100 per gallon to adequately coat the enormous 8-foot bed. Ranch Muffler also adjusts the installation price based on the bed size, custom requests and if the liner stops or comes over the bed rail. Most of the time involved with properly installing Al’s Liner is consumed by prepping the surface. Paying a shop like Ranch Muffler is worth the extra money for some, although those on strict budgets may find comfort in knowing we were able to produce similar results to the pros at Ranch Muffler in a typical garage when we added Al’s Liner to some other place on Budget Bow Tie.


Al’s Liner

(800) 999-6841

Ranch Muffler Jeep and Truck Accessories

(951) 676-4043

Product: PML Rear Differential Cover

Bang-For-Buck Factor: Differential fluid takes a beating. Unlike the engine coolant and transmission, the fluid inside of the rear differential doesn’t have its own dedicated cooler and the heat from hauling heavy loads puts a beating on components not properly lubricated. That and the stamped steel stock cover aren’t particularly beautiful to look at. Starting at less than $200, PML differential covers have built-in measures to combat both, as well as some others.

The sand-cast-aluminum PML differential covers increase the fluid capacity of the rear differential on the 2500HD by a quart while the raised fins dissipate heat. By replacing stamped steel with a cover that has 3/16-inch thick walls, the housing also gets a boost in strength. Future fluid changes are easier thanks to the drain plug, a part that’s magnetized in order to catch metal shavings. Bare aluminum is the most affordable option, but we opted for the black powder-coat finish to match the rest of Budget Bow Tie.


PML, Inc.

(310) 671-4345

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