HMMWV Upgrades: Easy DIY Modifications for Humvees and Military Vehicles

HMMWV Upgrades: Easy DIY Modifications for Humvees and Military Vehicles Did somebody say UPGRADES?! The military didn’t spend much (if any) time making the vehicles like HMMWVs, M35A2 Deuce-and-a-half or […]

Gear-Report.com Project HMMWV Battlewagon -RR wheel well 1HMMWV Upgrades: Easy DIY Modifications for Humvees and Military Vehicles

Did somebody say UPGRADES?!

The military didn’t spend much (if any) time making the vehicles like HMMWVs, M35A2 Deuce-and-a-half or 5-ton M923 trucks a comfortable ride. Luckily, there are lots of things the average Humvee or military vehicle owner can do to make their beast… well… less beastly. No… that’s not right… more comfortable. Here are some of our favorite military vehicle upgrades that an average Joe can do in their own garage.

lil’ help!

We could use some help here, folks.

  • Share your upgrade project results in the comments or email info@gear-report.com. We may include them on this page.
  • Please let me know what specific Humvee, M35A2 or other military vehicle products you would like to see reviewed. If they fit our plans for the Project Humvee Battlewagon or the Deuce Utility Vehicle, then we will reach out to the company to arrange getting the product for review.

*This article will be updated as we complete projects and others share projects with us. Check back often.

 Where to get Humvee parts, M35 parts and other military vehicle parts:

  • Probably my “go to” for real military parts is eBay: HMMWV partsM35A2 parts, M923A2 parts
  • You can get military vehicle books on Amazon: HMMWV books, M35A2 books, M923A2 books
  • Actually, you can get a LOT of military vehicle upgrade parts on Amazon. We have made it easy by adding a HMMWV section the Gear Report Amazon store and add parts to it as we find them.
  • Southern Metals Recycling… if you happen to be close to Wilmington, NC. They scrap HMMWVs for the government and can sell some parts. * We are sad to report that SMR has cancelled their contract with the DLA. No more parts will be available from SMR. 🙁

Before you upgrade, check the manuals!

HMMWV manuals in downloadable .pdf format (link). 

As we do upgrades we will add them to the list below, with links to the reviews, install tips and videos

    • 2 man to 4 man conversion – 2 man setup is nice, but if you need more seats or more interior room, then it is hard to beat the 4 man configuration. Conversion overview and instructions article (link)
    • HMMWV batteries – Lots of options and our “Best HMMWV batteries” recommendation in this article (link).
    • DIY grounding harness – Probably the first thing every HMMWV owner should do. I used 8 gauge AWG flexible wire Ring terminals and a large lug to mount wires to the engine ground point. Check out the full article: HMMWV Upgrades: How to make a DIY HMMWV Grounding Harness.

      HMMWV grounding harness - Starter ground is on bottom of starter.

      Starter ground is on bottom of starter.

    • HMMWV hard fiberglass X-doors – From our friends at Southern Metals Recycling. Installed, used… and then sold to an Army Officer that needed doors for his privately owned HMMWV. You need HMMWV door strikers if you are switching from soft doors. If converting from 2 man to 4 man, then you also need four rear door hinges: 5342012032822 19207 12338650     You can also add these locking door latches to the hard doors. Locking latches won’t keep people out of a soft top HMMWV, but they will make it MUCH harder for someone to steal the hard doors.

      Gear-Report.com Project HMMWV Battlewagon - X-door installed

      Humvee X-door installed

    • HMMWV Supplemental Armor Doors – Installed. When the military realized they needed some sort of ballistic protection for HMMWV occupants these X-doors with a think laminate of metal armor and thicker laminated ballistic windows started being issued. They are heavier than normal X-doors (76 Lb vs 46Lb) and are rumored to be moderately effective against typical pistol rounds, but are designed as indirect IED blast protection. You need HMMWV door strikers if you are switching from soft doors. If converting from 2 man to 4 man, then you also need four rear door hinges: 5342012032822 19207 12338650   You can also add these locking door latches to the hard doors.

      Quarter Horse Arms - machine gun from HMMWV

      Jeff shooting the Quarter Horse Arms AR15 Full Auto from the Project Humvee Battlewagon

    • HMMWV LED headlights – Here is the review (link). First installed TruckLite military 24v LED lights… which turned out to be single beam spotlights that were sold as “headlights” on eBay… even though they are NOT headlights. Not thrilled with them, so switched to these new LED headlights from Amazon (link) which have been running strong since Oct 2016.

    • HMMWV LED tail lights – Swapped in a set of LED tail lights (link) from one of our M105A2 trailers.
      HMMWV Upgrades: How to Install HMMWV LED Taillights - installed
    • HMMWV seats – I have tried 3 options, so far, and heard great reports on another that I’ll list:
      1. Stock military seats… which SUCK!
      2. Currently installed: OregonAero custom HMMWV front seats (Review link), How to install video (link). These are made from a high-tech combo of memory foams and are light years better than the stock military HMMWV seats

        Oregon Aero HMMWV passenger seat installed in HMMWV

      3. Four late model high back HMMWV seats in hand from Southern Metals Recycling. We tried one of these in the front passenger seat before the Oregon Aero seats arrived and it was a big improvement over the stock military HMMWV seat. However, installation on the driver’s side is requires an EXPENSIVE and hard to find and install base, or some creative cutting and welding to the stock seat base. Haven’t tackled that yet.
        Gear-Report.com Project HMMWV Battlewagon - military high back HMMWV seats
      4. I’ve heard persistent good reports from people who installed Smittybilt Jeep seats (Amazon – best deal). This pic is a seat Johnny T installed in his HMMWV. He says “They feel great”
        Cheap HMMWV seat upgrade Smitty Bilt Jeep seat
    • Off road lights – This is evolving…
    • Windshield washer fluid pump –  Replaced washer fluid pump with a 24v washer fluid pump off of eBay (link). Cost less than $5 shipped. Just cut the wires off of the old pump and put connectors on them to fit the bladed electrical connectors on the new pump, then put heat shrink wrap over connectors.
    • 12V fuse block and switch panel – I made a box to house 4 switches for lights using an electrical box (link), a 6 output fuse block (link) and these toggle switches (link).

      DIY HMMWV 12v accessories switch box
    • Aviation Intercom (full article)
      DIY Humvee upgrade - HMMWV Intercom - Jeff, thumbs up.
    • HMMWV license plate bracket with LED light
      Final product: Super simple. Cut about a one foot section of 1″ x 1″ aluminum angle. Drilled two holes in one side for the license plate, and two holes in the other side to bolt to the bottom of the HMMWV.


      First try: … so you can see what sort-of-worked… Custom made from some scrap aluminum flat stock and installed with screws, washers and nuts under the driver’s side quarter panel under the brake light. The light is a short section of LED Rope Light (link) connected via one of these handy connectors (link) (packed full of dielectric grease (link) to help protect against contamination and corrosion, of course).
      Gear-Report.com Project HMMWV Battlewagon - HMMWV license plate holder
    • HMMWV heat and sound insulation – LizardSkin sent their spray on Sound Control Ceramic insulation and  Ceramic heat barrier coatings to be sprayed with their Pro Spray Gun in the entire interior tub. Itching to do this, but need the weather to cooperate, since it needs to be applied within a specific temp range. See our full LizardSkin review and installation article here.
    • Cup Holder Ram Mounts sent their Cup holder and cell phone holder.
    • Solargizer Solar panel battery desulfator and trickle charger – To keep the batteries fresh I installed an IS-24-L 24V solar panel (link).
    • Interior LED light – Self adhesive backing on the a short section of LED Rope Light (link) connected via one of these handy connectors (link) (packed full of dielectric grease (link), of course) and stuck to the bottom center of the front soft top bow. Only use these for interior lights. They don’t hold up well when exposed to weather.
      DIY HMMWV upgrade LED rope lights - interior lights
      Although I still have these little $1 walmart headlamps zip tied to the soft top bow right above the driver & passenger seats.
    • HMMWV comms/computer, accessories console – A place to put my phone, coffee, pen, flashlight, etc. Secured via some finagling with a scrap yard. With a bit of scrubbing and some paint it looks new! I used the Sterilite Bath Caddy zip tied to the radio shelves to hold stuff for a few months, but have recently switch to the Rubbermaid Seat Organizer because it looks better and has more spaces to stow things.
    • Backup camera – This 7″ combo rear-view mirror/monitor with an IR enabled camera (link) has been installed and works wonderfully.
      HMMWV upgrades - backup camera monitorHMMWV upgrades - backup camera
    • Rear view mirror – HMMWVs don’t come with a rear view mirror… so I added this one (link). See the full write-up and installation video here: DIY Humvee Upgrade – How to Install Rear View Mirror in HMMWV
    • HMMWV airlift bumpers – Will pick one up from Damage Control Industries in October, 2017.
    • HMMWV spare tire carrier – For now, spare tire is strapped in cargo bed, but I understand why people like the ratcheting tire carriers. HMMWV tires with runflat inserts weigh about 160Lb each. They can be difficult to get in and out of the bed of the HMMWV safely with just one person… especially if that person has a bad back. 🙁
    • HMMWV 3 point seat belts – front 3 points were installed before the HMMWV retired from US Army service. I got a complete Rear 3 point seatbelt kit: NSN 2540013874036 part 57K0203 from a friend and installed the rear seat belts as part of the conversion from 2 man to 4 man setup
    • HMMWV back-up lights – Have LEDs from Amazon, and a HMMWV neutral switch (I have  few spares I can sell if anyone needs one) to use as a reverse switch. Just have to get around to wiring it. For now I can manually switch on a pair of LED flood lights in the back.
      Gear-Report.com Project HMMWV Battlewagon - HMMWV LED backup
    • Stereo radio – I have been hesitant to install a marine stereo in the Battlewagon since it has a soft top and no door locks… don’t want to tempt a thief. So, I have tried a handheld UV-82 radio in FM mode, the FM radio app on my phone (which doesn’t actually work that well), streaming audio from my phone, saving music to my phone to play. One of the benefits of the intercom is that I can plug an audio source into the intercom and listen over the comms headsets. Without headsets the danged HMMWV is so noisy that rather loud speakers are required to overcome the road, wind and mechanical noise. The LizardSkin Sound Control Ceramic insulation & Ceramic heat barrier and hard doors have helped a lot and I can use the Fugoo Tough XL bluetooth speaker when driving around town. However, at anything over about 45 mph the HMMWV noise overpowers the Tough LX. Lots of military vehicle owners have installed WetSounds bluetooth speakers with great success. I am considering installing a compact marine radio like this round, dash mounted unit, or one of these compact panel mounted units from Fusion or Pyle, with hard wired, surface mount marine speakers. First, I will try a set of LS671/VRC SINCGARS amplified speakers.
    • Comms radio – I have used a handheld UV-82 radio for a few weeks, mainly for the FM radio function. Midland Radio just sent their new MXT-115 in-cab radio, which installed easily. Though we might get the super high power MXT-400 (link), but opted for the added features of the MXT-115 instead: USB charging port, NOAA weather radio. Also received a pair of Midland X-Talker two-way radios to use with the MXT115.
      HMMWV radio M35a2 radio jeep radio Midland radio
    • HMMWV bed liner – Considered painting the whole HMMWV in bed liner, but research revealed that bedliner releases toxic gasses when it gets warm (like while driving) for YEARS after application. So, I will not put bedliner in the passenger areas of the Battlewagon (lost too many brain cells already). Other HMMWV owners who had bedliner coated trucks also warned me that it is VERY difficult to get the bedliner from peeling off over time. I am still thinking about putting Kevlar reinforced bedliner in the aft truck bed area to protect the LizardSkin and keep things from sliding around so easily.
    • Soft top insulation – installed Reflectix under the 2-man soft top as a radiant heat barrier. Watch the video here (link) Have not yet done this with the 4 man top, but probably will this winter.
    • 200 Amp generator – Installed a 200A 12V/24V generator from Southern Metals Recycling. If upgrading from a different model, don’t forget the required 200 Amp Alternator/Generator install kit. I am planning to add an additional 12V automotive battery just for running accessories (radios, chargers, lights, etc) and connect it to the 12V output. Also looking for a 20-30 Amp inverter to supply 120V AC (Amazon link) (eBay link). Then I can use the HMMWV as an emergency generator to keep my fridge and freezer running in a power outage.
    • 12V power source (Humvee electrical systems are 24V) –  For a few weeks I ran the off-road LED lights, interior LED light and a 12V charging socket directly off of the rear battery. It worked fine when the engine wasn’t running, but was a bit too much voltage for my radio when the engine was running (I measured 14.8V). I was also concerned about causing an imbalance in charge between the two batteries. So, I recently installed this 30A 24V to 12V converter (link) to draw from both batteries and feed the 12v fuse block. Tom, an electrician, sent this link to the 24v to 12v x 25Amp converter he is going to install.
      HMMWV 24v to 12v converter installation
    • 12v outlets – For charging phones. Installed this single plug outlet (link) beside the switch box. Also installed this double plug outlet (link) on the passenger side beside the radio shelf.
    • HMMWV secure storage – None yet
    • HMMWV tailgate chain covers – Bob N posted this set (link) that he found on eBay. Looks like this set might be a cheaper option (link).
      Replacement HMMWV chain cover
    • HMMWV gun storage – Lots of options
      • Secure gun storage
        • Blac-Rac sent their Weapon Retention System Free-Standing Mount with two locking model 1082 weapon mounts. It is bolted through the body on top of the tunnel between the driver & passenger seats. The mounts will hold over 200 of the most popular pistols and rifles securely, while blocking access to takedown pins, triggers, etc. Blac-Rac is just starting to sell to civilians, so call them for more info 1-800-528-8040.
          HMMWV gun rack Jeep gun rack locking gun rack Blac-RacHMMWV Upgrade - Blac-Rac rifle mount
      • Non-secure gun storage
    • HMMWV paint – I really like the original CARC woodland camo and want to leave it original as long as possible. After coating the interior with LizardSkin Thermal and Acoustic coatings I painted the entire interior tub with Aervoe Military and Recreation Camo Paint and am very pleased with how it turned out. I bought it locally and can’t find it online, but here is the most popular military vehicle paint from Gillespie.

 Where to get Humvee, M35A2, M923 & military vehicle parts:

HMMWV stuff, M35A2 stuff, military vehicle stuff

More HMMWV and M35A2  articles can be found under the Humvee or M35A2 category menus above (just below the Gear Report log) or by clicking HERE for HMMWV articles or HERE for M35A2 articles.

Suggestions?

Please leave a comment if you have suggestions on other HMMWV or M35A2 upgrades we should consider, or you have done upgrades that we can share on Gear Report.

The Project Humvee Battlewagon

Gear Report acquired a real HMMWV (High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicle) from the US Army for use as our official field and shooting range vehicle. We have already posted about some of our upgrade projects (Project Humvee Battlewagon article links) and have a lot of really cool projects on the way. Consider subscribing so you don’t miss any of the cool reviews as we post them.

Here is our Project Intro (link) and our list of HMMWV upgrade projects.

The Deuce Utility Vehicle (D.U.V.) Project M35A2

The D.U.V. project started with a fairly standard 1968 M35a2 two and a half ton 6×6 cargo truck. Commonly known as the “Deuce-and-a-half” or “The Deuce.” We aren’t yet sure where it will stop.

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About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps http://MGECOM.com acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.