The 2014 refresh of the Chevy Silverado made it one of the toughest looking trucks on the road, with beefier fenders and a big fist of a grille. But now that they’ve been out for a few years and you see them everywhere, the latest generation of Silverado doesn’t look so unique anymore. So we came up with some Chevy Silverado mods to make your truck stand out in the crowd, while adding more functionality than you can shake a light bar at. For our purposes, we’ve gone with a 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT Crew Cab with a 5.8 ft bed. Your fitment may vary if you have a different year, cab style, bed length, or trim level, so be sure to give us a call us or drop a note in the comments if you’re not sure what part you need. Onward to truck awesomeness.
We’ll start where you start every time you get in your truck: Getting into the truck. If you’ve lifted your truck (more on lift kits later this month), or even if you haven’t, it can sometimes be a chore getting up into the cab. We’re not calling you old, either. We don’t skip leg day. We know how it can be. But if you install a pair of step bars, they’ll always be there, reducing your ground clearance and possibly cramping your carefully tended style. Thankfully, this is 2015, when we can send spacecraft out past Pluto and record TV shows on the Xbox. We have the technology to solve your step board problems. Or, rather, Bestop has that technology.
Bestop’s Powerboard NX running boards are some of the most futuristic Silverado mods you can get. They remain nearly invisible when not in use, stowed up under the truck cab. When you open the door, they deploy, dropping six inches down and two inches out so you have a great step up. When you get in and close the door, the boards retract back up under the truck for a flush look and nearly stock ground clearance. Each board is textured with a non-slip surface and can safely hold up to 600 lbs. Pinch sensors are included, so if the boards detect even the slightest obstacle to closing, they fully deploy until you open and close the door again. No toes were harmed in the making of this product.
The boards are powered by an extremely weatherproof pair of electric motors and include LED lighting, so you can see where you’re stepping. LEDs are perfect for this system, too, because they’re so durable. They pretty much never need to be replaced. Bestop designed the Powerboards with the same reliability, which is why they have a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. But they’ve been tested to last far longer. Bestop has put their Powerboards through rigorous wear and salt spray tests to a lifespan far beyond what you’ll ever encounter in your truck. The double stage powder coat holds off any rust.
Now, Bestop has been making their Powerboards for some time, and they worked great, but the engineers at Bestop weren’t satisfied. They immediately started looking at ways to improve the system, and the Powerboard NX was born. Several neat little engineering tweaks were made to the NX, such as buttresses on the motor’s hardware mounts for extra strength. But the big change was the incorporation of wireless technology to eliminate a huge portion of the wiring harness and vastly cutting down on installation time. With the old Powerboards, you’d have to tap into the factory wiring harness in the door sill and mess with the door panel, and installation was a bit of a pain. Now, everything is wireless. Well, almost everything. The motors still need power from your battery, so you still have to run one cable from each side through an existing hole in the firewall, but the boards’ control is down to a set of wireless sensors you install on the door sills. One less thing to install, and one less thing to fail.
Let’s move around to the front for our next batch of Silverado accessories. Ditch the stock bumper. Sure, it looks fine as it is, but since when are you fine with fine? Make an impression with the super-tough Vengeance bumper from Fab Fours. The Vengeance has a sharp, angular look, like a tactical suit of body armor from the future. It has a two stage powder coat against rust protection, and is designed to sit tight against existing bodywork. It’s easy to install, too, bolting right up to the stock mounts. But the coolest thing about the Vengeance is the amount of lighting you can install without any extra modifications. There’s a slot front and center for a 20″ LED light bar that will sit flush with the front of the bumper, giving it an integrated look and helping protect it against incoming brush or other debris. And there are two side ports for extra LED auxiliary lights, as well.
For the light bar, we recommend Westin’s Performance 2X series 20″ LED array. It packs 40 high intensity LEDs for lighting up your view. The 2X is arranged in a flex pattern, which means that the reflectors for the LEDs vary in focus. Some are designed to create a long range, spot beam, while others are flood-type beams for good peripheral vision. The result is a well-rounded, balanced field of light ahead of your truck, both for long and short range. LEDs are perfect for auxiliary lighting because they create so much light with so little electricity. They only require a fraction of the power halogens need to create the same amount of light. So you can run more of them on your stock electrical system. However, this means some voltage regulation, and this generates heat. Alot of heat. Many poorly designed LED systems do not properly manage that heat, leading to the premature dimming of the bulbs themselves. Westin’s light bars, however, do manage this heat well, with oversized heat sinks built directly into the back of the bar itself.
That heat can also cause a build up of air pressure within the light bar housing. Thankfully, Westin’s light bars are valved, so pressure within the housing can remain neutral. The valve is far better than simply drilling a hole in the housing, since water cannot get in. And that valve does its job. You can turn your light bar on, park it one meter underwater, and leave it there for four hours before you begin to see any trouble. No promises for the rest of your truck, though. The 2X is protected from the front, too, with a super hard polycarbonate lens. Wiring, side mounts, and a switch are all included.
But that only covers one of the lighting positions in the Fab Fours Vengeance. Don’t forget about the ports at either side. Each port can mount up two square LED lights, such as the Rigid D-Series 4×4 flood lights, also known as Rigid Dually lights. As the name suggests, each D-Series pod has four LEDs. So if you mount two pods at each end, that’s sixteen more LEDs on your bumper, giving you maximum visibility. And since each pod is separate, you can angle them however you’d like. Just like the Westin light bar, the Rigid Duallys are overcooled via heat sinks and protected with super tough lenses.
You can fit more Rigid Dually pods in your rear bumper, too, if you round out the look with the Fab Fours Vengeance. The Vengeance rear bumper is every bit as tough, tactical, and edgy as the front bumper. But just like the front bumper, it only weighs 65 lbs, about half the weight of most aftermarket bumpers. That’s a massive weight savings, and as most truck manufacturers have proven, switching to lighter materials can drastically improve fuel economy. The Vengeance rear bumper is sensor compatible, leaves space for your stock hitch, and has mounting points for up to four LED pods or two 6″ light bars, like these from Rigid. Extra light out back can be vastly helpful, whether you’re backing up to your boat, lighting up the work site, or just setting up camp.
We’re not done with your look yet. One of the most striking and memorable, but also one of the easiest, mods you can make to your truck is a new set of wheels and tires. Chevy’s stock 5 spoke wheels are okay, but they’re a bit normal aren’t they? You could put them on any vehicle on the road, and they would fit. Why not get a set you can be excited about? Something to further stamp the identity of your truck’s new, hardcore look. You literally have thousands of options, here, and picking the right wheels is just a matter of personal opinion.
First you have to decide what size you want. Keeping your wheels and tires stock size won’t affect your driving dynamics or your gauges. Adding bigger wheels and tires can give you better ground clearance and traction, but might not be as comfortable at high speeds, and it may mess with your speedometer and odometer. So it’s up to you.
If you’re sticking with stock size, we recommend checking out the American Racing XD Spy, a cool and complex black and silver wheel that’s perfectly matched to your Vengeance bumpers. For the rubber, Toyo’s Open Country A/T 2 is a terrific off-road tire that you can take on the pavement just like the tires your truck came with. It has wide, grippy tread blocks to grab mud and rocks, but stabilizing tie bars to keep it quiet on the road. Most LT (light truck) tires do not carry treadwear warranties at all. Toyo’s LT tires carry a 50,000 treadwear warranty. But the Open Country A/T 2 is a P (Passenger) tire, so Toyo raised the bar even higher for a 65,000 mile treadwear warranty.
But what if you want to go bigger? The Mickey Thompson Metal Series MM-164B is a 20″ wheel, three inches bigger than stock, in a stark black and silver design no one is likely to soon forget. If only there was a tire as good as the Toyo Open Country for a wheel that big. Oh wait. There is. It’s the same tire, but bigger, and it will be awesome with that wheel.
Now, any time you swap wheels in one of these newfangled trucks, you have to account for your your government mandated Tire Pressure Monitoring System, or TPMS. The TPMS uses a sensor within each wheel to tell you know when your tire has gone flat. If you don’t replace the sensors when you buy new wheels, you’ll be stuck with your “flat tire” dash light on for the rest of the car’s life, and the NHTSA’s mounted policemen will throw spears through your radiator in the name of safety. Avoid this with some aftermarket TPMS sensors, like this excellent Airaware set from Schrader International. Sensors are sold individually, and they mount right up to your new wheels. And hey, it’s always good to know when you have a flat tire. On some bumpy dirt trails or the city roads surrounding our office, it can be hard to tell just from feel.
How about a little security for those fancy new wheels? Check out this wheel installation kit from Topline. Each kit comes with a full set of stainless steel lug nuts, a removal key, and matching valve stems. But these aren’t just any lug nuts. They’re spline-type lugs, which means you need your specific key to remove them. By contrast, most wheel lock kits only come with one locking lug per wheel. Lock all of your lugs and none of those jobless thieves will even give your truck a second look.
Finally, any time you add wider tires, you’ll want to make sure they’re legal. In most states, it’s illegal for your tires to extend beyond your fenders. But that doesn’t relegate you to a life of skinny tires. Instead, just get some aftermarket fender flares. These use your truck’s stock mounting holes to snap right into place, giving you more coverage for your tires and enhancing the truck’s look even further. We’ve been around for a while, and we’ve never seen a better or more loved set of fender flares than Bushwacker’s classic Pocket Style. They have simulated attachment hardware that’s real stainless steel, but doesn’t really require any drilling into your truck. Save your paint and save yourself some effort. The result is a hardcore, riveted look without the mess.
The Pocket Style, like all of Bushwacker’s flares, are made of super tough, durable ABS that’s strong but flexible even in the extreme cold. Installation takes no time at all, and you can even paint them if you want to match. Or you can just let someone else paint them. For the first time ever, Bushwacker is offering the Pocket Style prepainted in the factory according to the stock paint codes straight from GM. They’re available in Summit White, White Diamond Tricoat, Black, Silver Ice Metallic, Tungsten Metallic, and Deep Ruby Metallic. No mess, just a great finish right out of the box.
We could go on and on, but these exterior mods for the 2015 Silverado 1500 will get you started. Remember to give us a call or drop a note in the comments about fitment if you’re not sure about what Silverado parts you need. Our in-house, American tech experts can hook you up with the right fit. So that’s what we’d do to the outside of our truck. What Chevy Silverado accessories would you do to yours?
Check back next week when we tackle the truck bed.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.