When the topic of discussion pops up about buying a kit or a roller, typically, you’re dealing with an upper-end vehicle and the clientele has some pretty good knowledge about what they’re getting themselves into. Granted, this really only applies to the 1/8-scale off-road market, but it’s still a valid topic. Ultimately, it boils down to a couple key points-how much time do you have, mechanical amplitude and trust in someone else’s work.
If you’re the type of person who wants know everything about what’s going in with your vehicle and have ample time to sit down and focus on a build (and are a little bit OCD), then the only option for you is a kit. The reason being, kits force you to scrutinize every detail from start to finish-such as how parts fit together, shimming, breaking in various components, trimming the excess off plastic or metal parts, and adding fail-safes in the form of thread-lock and Shoe GOO. Kits create a step-by-step instructional process about how your vehicle goes together and quite possibility eliminates the need to carry around your owner’s manual when something goes wrong. They do require a considerable amount of time to complete, but the payoff is oh-so-sweet. You’ll be incredibly proud knowing that you built that vehicle with your own blood, sweat and tears. The flipside to a kit is, if you’re not a detail-oriented person and don’t follow directions correctly, one mistake could create a snowball effect and ultimately affect the entire build of the vehicle.
With most rollers, the time between purchase to track is a matter of hours rather than days. Simply bolt in your running gear, double check setup, break in a motor and you’re driving. What the roller doesn’t teach you is how to fix mistakes when something goes wrong. Also, there’s a level of trust that’s been disconnected from your relationship with the vehicle because you’ve theoretically put the build of the car into someone else’s hands. It’s safe to assume that even if you know what you’re doing, the manufacturer probably knows it better because they’ve build hundreds of those diffs and you just built yours for the first time. With that said, if you’re strapped for time and want that instant gratification, buy a roller.
It really boils down to what type of challenge you want, your time contraints and how detail oriented you are. From a challenge standpoint, even if you’re not a details person and you’ve never built a kit, you need to build at least one kit in order to knock it off your bucket list to really grasp what kit building is all about. And who knows-it might be that challenge you’ve been searching for.