12 Easy First Mods for the F-150 Owner

Great, you've got an F-150. Too bad it's boring and looks like everyone else's truck. That's the downside to owning the No. 1 best-selling truck since disco was king. Fortunately, you can fix that for not a lot of cash and just a few hours of work. While some mods are as disappointing as the last season of Game of Thrones, these will take your factory-stock F-150 to the next level.

Source | Kevauto

The Basics

Tailgate Assist

If you do one mod to your truck, do this one. Whether you're in construction like Bob Vila or your F-150 is a pavement princess that cruises suburbia, you'll get a lot of miles out of this easy mod. The tailgate assist, also called “EZ down," is a shock absorber that attaches to the tailgate and bed in the same area as the tailgate cable. When opening the tailgate, the shock slows the drop of your expensive hardware. No more accidentally slammed drops, broken cables, or bent tailgates. Plus, the tailgate assist is so easy to install, your dog could probably handle it.

Tailgate net

A mesh tailgate net is especially handy if you've got a work truck that sees a lot of hauling use. It also gives you a marginal improvement in fuel economy, since there's no tailgate to disrupt the vehicle's aerodynamics as air makes it through the truck bed. As far as ease of installation, you can't get much easier than putting a tailgate net on an F-150.

Bed liner

Look around any F-150 forum, and there is another mod everyone shouts at you as highly recommended. Whether your truck is brand new or 20 years old, if you're missing a bed liner, you're missing out. The spray-on-vs.-drop-in bed liner debate is as dangerous as politics at Thanksgiving, but either one is superior to a naked, unprotected bed. Both types offer bed protection from cargo and weather, preventing scratches and dents (unless you rage-drop a sharp cornered toolbox, like in that Chevy commercial). Bed liners also prevent rust, and the griptape-like surface prevents cargo sliding.

Pro Tip

When it comes to trucks, the verdict is in: bigger is better. If you've gone so big that you can't reach under the hood, try out a tire step to get that extra height. 


Seat covers & floor mats

A car seat with a black leather cover.

Plasticolor Seat Cover | Advance Auto Parts

Do you have a case on your phone? Odds are you do, not because cases are awesome, but also because phones are fragile and you really don't want a damaged phone that can only serve as a paperweight. Protect your even-more-expensive investment with seat covers and floor mats. Just because you're gross doesn't mean the inside of your truck should be. All-weather floor liners are the toughest out there and will probably outlast your truck. 

Backup Camera

Backup cameras are standard on all F-150 trim levels since 2018, but what if your truck is older? You can retrofit an older truck with modern tech for just a few bucks. Reverse camera systems have crashed in price, and the install is way easier than a decade ago, about as hard as an aftermarket stereo head unit. Bluetooth wireless units make the install totally painless, and the wide-angle lens means you'll never back over your kid's bike again. Bonus points if you can wire it to record on demand. You might get some funny off-road shenanigans, like leaving your buddy's Silverado stuck in a puddle.


If you've got an older F-150, especially a base-model truck, chances are you might not have a console organizer. They're a great way to keep the things you need within easy reach and are especially helpful in a bench seat truck. The great thing about consoles is that you can get one that's as simple or feature-rich as you want, with cupholders, a built-in cooler, separate compartments, and other niceties.


Fender Flares

Nothing gives your truck the Mad Max look like a set of fender flares. Best when complemented with aftermarket wheels and a lift, they also work on stock vehicles. Like mud flaps, they'll protect your paint from rock chips, so you can say they're an investment in your vehicle. If a spouse/significant other questions the purchase, just say they'll pay for themselves in the long run (so just consider it an investment).

Bumper/Grille guard/Bull bar

A black grille guard on a white background.

Aries Grille Guard | Advance Auto Parts

Looking for form as well as function? Grille guards do exactly what the name says – protecting the front of your truck, including vitally important parts like the cooling system. Bull bars are mostly cosmetic but deliver minor vehicle protection, and they serve as a mounting point for other accessories like light bars. If you need a new look entirely, swap the boring factory bumper for an edgy aftermarket design.


The easiest and cheapest way to upgrade your vehicle's lighting is with LEDs. For a bit more than the cost of standard bulbs, LEDs offer more light, a longer life, and cooler temps. They even draw less power, easing the strain on your electrical system if you swap out all your bulbs for LEDs. That's more power for an upgraded stereo. DOT-approved aftermarket headlight and taillight options include redesigned housings that contain LED auxiliary lighting, like daytime running light strips or "angel eye" halo rings.


Air intake

A K&N cold air intake system.

K&N Cold Air Intake | Advance Auto Parts

A 5.4L Triton with a stock intake is like forcing Superman to breathe through a straw. Upgrade to a performance air intake designed to get more horsepower and torque out of your engine by reducing bends and pulling air from a cooler location. Most systems have a washable, reusable filter that lasts the life of the vehicle (again, “It pays for itself, honey!"). Bonus: performance intakes improve gas mileage if you keep your foot off the go pedal. But you won't.

Lift kit

Stock F-150 ground clearance isn't bad, but you can make it better with a leveling kit or lift kit. Both are designed to raise the truck frame to increase ground clearance, also increasing the distance from the fender to the rubber. A leveling kit is a simple install that raises the front end of the truck a few inches, so it sits even with the rear. A lift kit can raise your ride height by anywhere from two inches to Shaquille O'Neal. This is a more involved installation, usually requiring new shocks, springs, steering components, and more. While a lift is more costly and takes longer to install, the tradeoff is you can run 40-inch off-road tires.

Performance chip

The term "performance chip" is really something of a misnomer, as this mod now involves reprogramming the engine control computer. A flash programmer can change the truck's performance parameters by changing shift points, spark control, and other factors. The right changes can add as much as 20-50 horsepower and enhance fuel economy without changing emissions. These kind of mods are especially popular with owners of Power Stroke trucks, and can even be changed or changed back on the fly while you're driving.

Last updated February 4, 2021