At the end of December, we start a several months long roadtrip to the southern parts of South America. We’ll be traveling through Chile and Argentina, including driving the entire length of the Carretera Austral road through northern Patagonia and making our way down to southern Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego.
To increase our odds of an incident free trip, I’m readying our overland vehicle, a process I went through in 2016 when we beefed up our family Tahoe for a 30,000 mile road trip around America.
We bought a used 4Runner 4×4 several months ago in Santiago, which was one of my top car choices. Buying this vehicle was an adventure of its own. I’ve been getting used to the 4runner, planning out what’s needed for the roadtrip.
At one point I was thinking I was completely going to deck out this 4runner. I was going to throw everything at it. Big tires, lift, front and rear guards, hitch, wench, roof rack or roof tent, blacked out windows, and a compressor mounted under the hood. You name it, and I was considering it.
After a while in Chile though, I realized a better route would be more subtle upgrades so that we don’t draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. Car theft is a problem in Chile, and we’re hoping to slip through all sorts of remote areas without getting noticed as foreigners. I figure we have a better chance of avoiding wandering eyes and curiosity by keeping the 4runner as stock as possible.
With this in mind, the upgrades ahead of this road trip are almost entirely mechanical and safety oriented. New all-terrain tires, new brakes, oil change, and other maintenance items like changing filters, fluids, and wipers. I’m making use of a low profile roof rack if needed in a pinch, and I’ve repaired some of the security cargo covers inside the vehicle. I’ve also bought a collection of tools and emergency equipment to store in concealed places.
A lot of people out there put a lot of faith in Toyotas. I’ve never owned one, but if this vehicle gets us through a South American road trip without putting me into a roadside emergency or a situation where I’m getting ripped off by a mechanic, I’ll be a believer.