Buying a new ute? Or maybe you’re re-kitting an old one. While some utes do come with their rear section pre-installed, many commercial buyers prefer to buy a chassis-only ute with a bareback so that they can select the best fit for their needs. Customising your ute with a tray not only expresses your personal style, but it also adds value to the car.
Ute trays allow you to move cargo, whether it’s fruits, vegetables, livestock, camping gear, construction equipment, bulk shopping, or extended relatives coming over for a family barbeque. The kind of tray you choose makes all the difference, so here are some tips.
First, make sure you get your tray from a reliable supplier. They should have a good track record and great customer service because you’ll have to come back to them if anything goes wrong. Good suppliers offer after sales service and will fit and install the tray for you.
They will also have a wide network of distributors and service people so that you can reach them at your convenience. Their products – even if they’re imported – will come with a warranty and their products are tried and tested within the Australian market.
The main materials used to make ute trays are aluminium, steel, and alloy. The alloy is generally powder coated and is mostly available in matte black, white aluminium is shiny and grey. Aluminium trays tend to be lighter, which means you can carry more cargo, given the car’s weight allowance. Steel, on the other hand, it a rougher wearing material.
The fact that steel is tougher means it can carry mechanical materials and heavy industrial equipment which you might worry about carrying in your ute. You might also be driven by aesthetics. As much as a ute is a work vehicle, it’s still a statement of your character, so you can choose the material that appeals most to your sense of style.
Check the size of the tray and ask questions. While some trays are adjustable and can fit a wide variety of chassis and brands, others are more specific. Ask questions before you buy, and if possible, test the tray out for size and functionality.
This is where choosing a reliable supplier comes in handy. Some ute accessory stores employ a sales team that looks and sounds good but may be unclear on the intricacies of utility vehicles. You need a salesperson that will go beyond reciting the tray features. They need to know what those fancy words mean, and how they apply to you and your ute.
As you pick a tray, think about what you’ll mainly use it for. If it will transport animals or fruits and vegetables, it helps if it has an optional tarp, or maybe even a roofing option. If you’re more into plumbing or construction, a ladder rack will help to hold your supplies.
Customers who often work with their hands are likely to have valuable tools in their car at all times, so look for a ute that has a lockable toolbox. It can be inbuilt, or the ute can have a secure section where the toolbox can be tucked.
Another useful feature is a tyre rack. The more, the better, since it allows you to carry spare wheels without digging into your cargo storage space. You can also check if the tray is firm enough to attach a winch in case you ever need to tow something. Some ute trays have inbuilt secret compartments for trundle drawers and additional cargo, which is helpful.
You might think about the size and design of your wheels. Some ute trays contain mudguards to prevent slippage, but if you have a big-foot kind of ute, you may need a tray customised for that particular style. You can also find out if the manufacturer of your ute has anything to say about trays. You wouldn’t want to buy something that will void your warranty.
As you drive around looking for that final piece to complete your vehicle, be sure to check the tray in person. Internet pictures are nice, but sometimes you just need to look at the thing, touch it, and test your weight against it to see if it’s the right rear end for your car.