Installation Time: Weekend
April 15, 2019
Great Bumper - Terrible Install
I installed this bumper on a 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2-door JK.
Delivery: 5 out of 5
I ordered from Extreme Terrain on a Tuesday and received it on Friday. The bumper arrived in great condition. The box was a bit beat up with a tear in on the top of one end. However, I couldn’t find any chips or imperfections in the bumper. It was well wrapped and seemed to come through shipment OK. All the hardware was included including the mounting bolts, washers, brackets, shackles and other various items.
Install: 2 out of 5
I don’t know where to start. Putting in the fog lights was a real pain. You have to put a bracket on one side of the hole so the standard size fog lights will fit. To add insult to injury, the screw holes were too small and I had to drill them all so the screws would fit. Now you have to take these tiny screws and maneuver them through the brackets while holding a washer and lock nut in place. Easier said than done. On the outside, there’s almost no room to maneuver your hand. On several of those, I just put a nut on as that was all I could maneuver in place. I could have turned the tiny bolts upside down, but that would require extra washers and there’s not enough room for a screwdriver below the bracket. Very time consuming work with tiny parts.
That wasn’t the best part. There is one major fundamental flaw in the design of the mounting system for the bumper itself. I’ve added pictures. The issue here is that instead of welded screws on the bumper, I got 4 sets of bolts with a pair welded to a flat piece of iron forming a square “u” shape. In order to mount the bumper, you have to put your hand in a small hole in the bumper and push the bolts out through the holes.
You might ask what keeps them from falling back out? They put in four plastic squares with holes in the middle to hold one end of the two bolts. The plastic holds it somewhat, however, a good knock will push the bolts back into the bumper box. That’s right, a box. It’s completely enclosed except for the entry hole. To make it even more fun, the hole itself is blocked by the Jeep frame once you mate the two together. Did you knock the bolts back into the box? You have to take the bumper completely off to gain access to the box and reset the bolts.
Imagine your two friends manipulating this 174 lb bumper into place (I put the winch on first). If they don’t hit all eight holes just right, the brackets get pushed back into the box. Bumper off, try again. You will also need a third person to guide the loose bolts into the holes and attach a nut without applying any pressure that will push the bolts back into the box. You have no way to hold the bracket from the bumper side. This whole thing stressed me out a bit. I’m 65 and I picked up my last 160 lb piece of metal a long time ago.
Why not stuff some newspaper or packing material in the box to keep the brackets pinned to they don’t push back you say? I did think of that, but remember the only opening is sealed off by the end of the frame, so you have no access to the box once mounted. I’ll bet you water does though. I imagine over time, any material you use to brace the brackets will be trapped by that material causing it to rust much faster than normal as there is no way to remove it once mounted.
So how did I solve this issue? I went down to Harbor Freight and bought a 500 lb capacity hydraulic lift cart ($130 with a 20 off coupon). I put the bumper on the end of the cart and pumped it up to the approximate height and rolled it to the front of the Jeep. After some jockeying around, I was able to get one bolt far enough through the hole to very gently put a nut on it. By tightening that nut, it brought the nut on the other end of the bracket in far enough to get a nut on it. Rinse, repeat. This took a lot of time to get all four sets aligned without pushing them back into the box. Once I had a nut on each bolt, securing them from being pushed back into the box, I went back and pulled one nut at a time and added the washer and lock nut. Tighten all nuts, done.
In hindsight, I should have paid someone to do it, but the shop I called wanted $200 to mount the bumper and $150 to mount the winch. There has to be a better way, I just couldn’t see it. I really like the cart, it’s great for lifting things to height where it’s comfortable to work on.
Winch Mounting: 5 out of 5
Plenty of room for a Smittybilt X20 10k winch with synthetic rope. No intrusion into the body. Bolt pattern was spot on. Good clearance all the way around and it’s recessed into the bumper for a low profile. That was the reason I picked this bumper over the Trail Force HD bumper. I also liked the Adventure HD, but I understand that the winch plate intrudes on the vacuum pump and has to be filed down a bit to fit correctly, or relocate the pump.
Looks: 5 out of 5
After all was said and done, I really like the bumper’s look and feel. It’s a heavy bumper (about 97 lbs), but it looks great and the winch fits great. Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes. I would let him know about my install issues.