It Takes A Village

September 2015 Column Brady L. Kay

The ancient African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” is being used to the point of a cliché these days, yet it’s still one of my favorite quotes. But I’d like to take it a step further and suggest that, “It takes a village to plan your next truck build.”

When it comes to modifying your diesel truck, you either have the bug or you don’t. Those who have been infected by this incurable obsession know all about the sleepless nights as you lie in bed contemplating what to do to your truck when your paycheck allows.

Depending on how many personal builds you’ve had, your “village” of people may vary. When it comes to building up our trucks we all have our own ideas, but it’s smart to consult others too for suggestions.


The first village member should be a professional mechanic. Even as a do-it-yourselfer, it's important to have someone else look over your truck to give you ideas. Guys who work in diesel shops on a daily basis know what your truck needs and more importantly what it doesn't. After all, their paycheck depends on their knowledge of trucks. The first three upgrades you feel are a must to get started, might not be the same three he’s thinking. 

Plus a good shop guy will know which products he's had success with and which ones to stay away from. Ever get elbow-deep in a build and realize you overlooked a step or a part? Once you've had to put your truck on hold while you wait for a part to be shipped, you won't make the same mistake again of not going over your game plan with a qualified mechanic first.

A Trained Eye

Have you ever seen a cool truck that seems tainted a little because the owner clearly didn't have a friend who understood what really works together? Like a custom bumper with round lights when the rest of the truck is loaded with aftermarket square ones. Or wheels that look perfect on your monitor, but clash horribly when you put them on your truck. Every owner needs a friend with an artist eye who can take one look and tell you if it will work or not. This also applies to simple things like sticker placement. I've seen trucks that look like a 4-year-old had free rein. I'm no expert, but I've seen enough poor sticker placements to know what DOESN'T work! Ask first, because stickers don't come off easily.

Spouse Input

One of the biggest mistakes any aftermarket build can encounter is not giving your spouse or significant other a say. As a guy, you see giving your stock ride a 6-inch lift a must, but your wife sees it as another challenge when it comes to getting in. Simply put, don't forget side steps! Make the extra height a non-issue by making sure she doesn't (in her mind) have to climb Everest each time she wants to get in.


A friend in your circle who consults with you on purchases is usually your least favorite member of your village entourage, but still key to your success. You need to make sure your vision for where you want your truck to end up doesn't get derailed when down the road you're struggling to make your truck payment to the bank.

Online Friends

While you've probably never had them over to your garage before, it doesn't mean you’re not friends. I'm talking about forum members and others you meet online. While your current physical address may limit you on who you can speak diesel with, the web gives you the opportunity to get advice from those who have your same year and brand of truck. Warning: you will get more ideas than you could ever use on 10 trucks, yet some of your best ideas will come from a forum guy you've never actually met before, yet those ideas will save you time and/or money on something he's already done himself.

Starting a build soon? Before you get too far it’s best to check with your village because after all, it takes more than one person to build a truck the right way.


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