Many farmers think that half the fun of owning a truck is to “trick it out” with accessories or upgrades. Whatever the reason people choose to upgrade their truck, everyone wants a vehicle that performs as good as it looks.

Josh Highfill is a motor enthusiast and dairy farmer from Pleasant Hope, MO, who has been accessorizing trucks for seven years. Here are his top picks to enhance the performance, utility and look of your truck.

Performance chip

Because Highfill wants strong towing performance, his number-one accessory is the Edge performance chip. Designed to increase horsepower and torque in the truck engine, the chip helps maintain higher speeds during pulling. “The main reason I got mine was to pull the trailer,” Highfill explains. “It makes an unbelievable difference.” The chip also can provide a 10% increase in fuel economy.

There are two versions of the performance chip: a 65 hp and 120 hp. Jon Hoppis Jr. of CMP Chips, which sells Edge performance chips, warns that most dealerships do not approve of performance chips. He says that you should talk to your dealer before installing a performance chip if your truck is still under warranty.

Highfill cautions that the temperature limit for any performance chip, including if the temperature probe is in the manifold, is 1,350°F. If the exhaust pipe is several inches behind the turbo, the temperature limit is 1,000°F. Running a higher temperature could cause damage to your engine, he says.

To compensate for the increased torque and resulting heat, Highfill installed a bigger exhaust on his truck to keep the engine running cooler, upgrading from a standard 3-in. pipe to a 5-in. one.

Price of the Edge chip is $335. Highfill's total cost to install the 120-hp Edge in his 2001 Dodge diesel along with three gauges and a bigger exhaust was about $1,750. Contact CMP Chips at 866/942-4544, www.cmpchips.com. Or contact Edge Products, Dept. FIN, 1080 S. Depot Dr., Ogden, UT 84404, 888/360-3343, visit www.edgeproducts.com or www.free productinfo.net/fin, or circle 219.

Brush guards

A brush guard offers some protection from dents to the front fender, and it adds bulk to the front of your truck, making it appear larger.

A Westin CPS Sportsman grille guard retails for $1,105. Contact Westin Automotive, Dept. FIN, 5200 N. Irwindale Ave., Suite 220, Irwindale, CA 91706, 626/960-6762, visit westinautomotive.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 220.

Window tinting

No one likes getting into a truck that has been sitting in the hot sun all day or driving one into the sun for that matter. Window tinting is an easy way to block the sun from your eyes, while dropping your truck temperature by about 15°.

Window tinting is the application of a thin, specially designed film to the inside of the window of a vehicle. The window tint percentage refers to the amount of light transmitted through the tinted glass, so the lower the number, the darker the film. For example a 5% tint is a lot darker than a 35% tint.

Dan Norte, a professional window tinter in Owatonna, MN, recommends a long-lasting dyed film or metalized film. Dyed films match a factory tint better, but they don't reject as much heat and have a limited life. Norte says that, if you decide to use long-lasting dyed film, make sure to ask for one with a lifetime warranty against fading and color change.

According to Norte, metalized film in a charcoal color gives good heat rejection, good life and low reflectivity. If you want an even better product, go with a ceramics tint, Norte says. Although it is at least double the price of metalized tint, it offers the highest level of heat rejection, great life and low reflectivity.

In Minnesota, metalized tinting costs about $300 and ceramic tinting costs about $630. Both prices include tinting all windows except the windshield. For more information about window tinting, call Darkdan's Window Tinting at 507/363-1722 or visit www.HurricaneTint.com.

Toolbox

With a toolbox installed in your truck, you always have your tools and supplies with you. Because it fits behind your cab, the toolbox doesn't take much space.

Toolboxes are available that attach to the side of your truck, enabling you to get your tools without climbing in the back. However, Highfill says that, if you pull a trailer, particularly a gooseneck, the box should be out of the way to avoid hitting it when making turns.

Highfill recommends BetterBuilt, John Deere and Craftsman toolboxes. Price of the BetterBuilt Truck Box is $455.95. Contact Daws Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, 8811 Grow Dr., Pensacola, FL 32514, 800/366-8269, visit www.dawsbetterbuilt.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 221.

Tires and wheels

Upgrading tires and rims is also a popular option. Highfill buys highway treads for his truck, which is a thicker tire allowing for easier pulling of large loads with a trailer. He adds that a highway tread is smoother and makes less noise than a regular tire.

If you are not pulling a trailer, you might consider a larger low-profile tire, up to 22 in. A low-profile tire features a low tread that has more wheel than tire. These tires help the truck round corners better but give a less comfortable ride. If you use your truck for play, tires with “big chunks” like Wild Country TXR feature a deep, wide tread, allowing you to drive through mud.

Highfill thinks the bigger the rims on the truck the better the vehicle looks because more of the fender is covered. He says brands to consider are Wild Country tires and Alloy wheels. The price of four 17-ft. polished steel Eagle Alloy Wheels is $839. The price of M/M Wild Country XRT II radial tires is $99/tire. Contact Bage Co., Dept. FIN, 139 Cty. Rd. 419 West, Chuluota, FL 32766, 407/977-3116, visit bageco.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 222.