Akins Custom Truck, Buy it or Build it?

For $10,500 above sticker this is ready to roll.
For $10,500 above sticker this is ready to roll. /

You have saved up. Are ready to buy your dream truck and trick it out? The question is, do you do it yourself, or buy it completed?

One of my buddies bought a new truck the other day and the first thing they did was put wheels on it. Right now suspension, a tonneau cover and a custom grill are in the works.  My question is, would it have been better to just buy it with everything on it?  After all, he is not going to be heavy trail driving, mainly highway use and towing a trailer.

I went down to Akins Ford Dodge and Ram of Winder, Georgia to find out if my friend missed an opportunity. Akins is special.  They have their own custom and aftermarket shop built into the dealership. They offer complete custom trucks straight from the lot with suspension, drop down steps, bed covers, bumpers, winches and just about anything you could imagine. Keith started telling me how there are people who do it all different ways. Some buy the truck the bring it back later.  Some start the process, then finish the job themselves. Some that just go for the gold ring and get it all.

At $11,100 in extras, this Jeep is loaded from the dealer. /

I asked what the advantages are of getting them to do the work there at the dealer. Put simply, they only use products that they could stand behind and sell with confidence and factory backing. Once you buy a truck from them customized, if you have any issues during the warranty period, take it back to them and they will fix it. That is one of the issues with aftermarket parts you install yourself, they can void the factory warranty and you are stuck fighting with your ride instead of enjoying it.

Part of the reason they stand behind the work is they are using only top-shelf quality parts. If you are looking for a heavy duty off road monster, this is not for you. If you are using it as a daily driver that goes off road every once in a while and tows a boat or trailer, then it makes sense. They use Pro Comp suspension pieces and only the highest quality bumpers and winches. This way, you know that your first trip off road will not send you right back to the dealer for repairs. Being a factory authorized dealer and installer for the parts, they also deal with all the hassle if something goes wrong, you just get back on the road.

They were going over the options they had for Jeep’s as well. I could not believe all the choices they have for the little 4-wheel-drive monsters. Keith and Jim both explained to me the importance of picking the right parts especially with Jeeps. There is a huge aftermarket for Jeep parts and some of the choices are very bad. With everything that is out there, it is great having a professional giving you direction in which way to go. As I was told, there have been lots of horrible ideas for Jeep parts that ended up being built. The last thing you want to do is get stuck on the trail and realize your bumper cannot handle the winch you bought and end up putting both in the back after someone else pulls you out.

Sometimes your budget will not let you add the $10-$15,000 it takes to get your truck the way you want it straight from the dealer. I totally understand that. In this case, it makes sense to take your time and do it right. Buy the right parts and have them installed as you can afford them. Verify that the shop isn’t adding parts that’ll void the warranty.

More from Art of Gears

One of the most important things the guys told me is that anytime you try to flash the computer you are taking a risk that is not worth it on a new vehicle. All the manufacturers known when the factory settings have been tampered with, no matter what anyone says. Once it has been detected that you altered, or attempted to alter the factory programming ,the dealer can void the warranty on the spot. This puts you on the hook for any repairs to the engine and transmission, even if it has nothing to do with the programming.

In the end, it really depends on what you are looking for in your ride. Most of us just need a reliable truck or Jeep that gets us around and we want it to look good doing it. Akins is not alone in offering custom vehicles off the lot.  With a little research, you can find them in just about every area. You can even negotiate with the dealer the costs on some of the parts for your ride and get it in the sale contract. That way, you are not forking out more money right after getting a new car payment. As much as I love to build cars, I think the guys at Akins changed my mind on dealer customs. If you can afford it, you are going to save a lot of time and headaches by having the dealer do the work for you.