Skid Plate Overview
One of the first things Jeep owners think of when discussing body armor are skid plates
. These plates are designed to go underneath the jeep and provide a layer of protection from road/trail debris hitting and damaging vital engine and powertrain components, like oil pans or transfer cases. Skid plates can also be used to protect larger pieces like the gas tank or even muffler.
- What are skid plates normally constructed from? Skid plates are typically made of thick, heavy gauge steel, which are then powder-coated in a highly durable finish. They are normally designed to withstand a direct impact from hard objects such as rocks or tree stumps and great to have if you find yourself rock crawling from Moab to Rausch Creek.
- How do skid plates function? A well-designed skid plate will have an angled surface, to allow the Jeep to deflect and slide off an obstacle. In addition, the attachment points should have rounded edges, if a bolt scrapes a hard surface it will allow the bolt to slide off and not be sheared off from catching onto an edge.
Which skid plates should I get? Skid plates are usually sold as individual pieces, which allows you to purchase the plates you’ll need over time or if you’re on a budget. The most common skid plate will protect the oil pan and transmission, these two components are incredibly vulnerable and fall in-line next to each other, allowing a single skid plate to offer great protection. Oil and transmission skid plates are very easy to install and are mainly constructed of a 3/16” steel plate. You can then move on to a transfer case skid plate and a larger plate for your gas tank.
- Who should buy? Skid plates are one of those modifications you will rarely see, so there’s not much to gain from a visual perspective, but they offer a tremendous amount of protection for critical components of your Jeep. If you plan on doing any type of rock crawling or an extensive amount of overlanding through wooded areas, you should seriously consider adding some skid plate protection.
What are Differential Covers?
The differential is the pumpkin shaped piece that can found in-line with your Jeep’s axles. This is the lowest contact point for a Jeep. The only way to increase ground clearance for a differential is by increasing the tire size. A larger lift will raise the rest of the Jeep, but will have no effect on the clearance room for the differential. Considering that the differentials are in the most vulnerable position of your Jeep, they require a high level of protection. In addition, the differential’s exposure provide an opportunity for added styling, by adding a unique cover to an otherwise dark unnoticeable part of your Jeep.
- What are differential covers made of? Most heavy-duty aftermarket differential covers are constructed from high-strength iron, allowing them to take a direct impact from extremely hard surfaces such as rocks.
- How do differential covers protect the Jeep? Most differential covers are designed with rounded edges. This allows the jeep to deflect and slide off any direct impact easily. The rounded edges are also critical for the rear differential to prevent it from catching onto a rock as you’re crossing over and essentially peeling it off.
- Which differential should I get? Typically, the front differential on Jeeps from 1987 – 2017 are Dana 30 and the rear is often a Dana 44. If you have Rubicon or special edition Wrangler, then you will probably have a Dana 44 in the front also. Both covers have a distinct size, shape, and bolt pattern, so it’s critical that you research which one works for your Jeep. In addition to the cover you will need an ATV sealant or gasket, along with gear fluid, consult your owner’s manual for proper oil weight. In addition, it’s always good practice to replace your fluid after any river crossing, especially if it was contaminated with water.
- Who should buy? As discussed, differential covers are positioned in the most vulnerable point of your Jeep, therefore they require some level of attention if you plan on doing any type of rock crawling. They also give you an opportunity to add some color and styling to the bottom of your Jeep. Differential covers are relatively an inexpensive modification that offers a tremendous amount of protection, making this a great bang for your buck and something every Jeep owner should consider getting.
Jeep Rock Sliders Explained
Moving along the lower sides of the Jeep, an easy to install and highly functional upgrade are called rock sliders, which are heavily constructed and reinforced side steps for your Jeep. Aside from their protective benefits, rock sliders can also provide a finished look, by covering the Jeep’s pinch seam if it didn’t come with factory step or Rubicon rails.
- What are rock sliders made of? Unlike traditional side steps, which are usually constructed from plastic or aluminum, rock sliders are constructed from heavy-gauged rolled steel.
- How do rock sliders protect the side of the Jeep? Rock sliders that are either mounted to the frame, along the body mounts or welded and reinforced to the side frame, are designed to withstand the weight of the Jeep. Sliders are often used a strategical tool to help the Jeep get over an obstacle. As the name implies, these side steps/bars allow the Jeep to slide over hard surfaces such as rocks, with little to no damage to the Jeep. They are also very effective at protecting the side of the Jeep during narrow passages through trees.
- Which rock slider should I get? A good rock slider will attach to the side frame of the Jeep, either along the body mount or through welded reinforcement. Unlike side-steps, rock sliders should not be solely attached to the Jeep’s pinch seam, this often results in a weak anchoring point and could cause serious damage to the side of the Jeep if it encounters a hard surface.
- Who should buy? If your Jeep didn’t come with side steps or Rubicon rock rails, then it will have an exposed pinch seam. From a visual perspective, rock sliders give the Jeep a nice finished look, while also providing great functional performance, making them ideal for all Jeep owners.
How Jeep Body Armor Works
Jeep body armor are typically steel plates that replace the front aluminum fenders and attach to the rear corner body of the Jeep. These plates are among the last steps of armored protection for your Jeep and offer the most aggressive look for your Jeep.
- What is Jeep body armor made of? Most body armor plates are constructed from rolled steel and a powder coat finish for great durability.
- How does body armor protect my Jeep? During narrow paths in wooded areas, there’s a high likelihood that your Jeep will rub against tree branches or sometimes tree trunks. Side body armor plates offer a high level of protection from this side debris that can easily scratch or dent the fragile aluminum body panels on the Jeep.
- Which body armor panels should I get? Considering the amount of modification needed to replace the front fenders and bolts on the rear plates, body armor is a bold move for most owners. This is typically reserved for owners that do a high amount of trail driving and encounter heavily congested forests. Rear panels are typically attached through rivets or screws directly into the Jeep’s body, requiring proper installation to prevent corrosion and exposed metal.
- Who should buy? There’s no doubt that body armor requires a higher level of modification to your Jeep, some of which is permanent. This, in turn, makes body armor plate something that a hard-core trail user would benefit from or a Jeep owner who is interested in the most aggressive look possible.
Fitment includes: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, YJ, TJ, JK, JL, Laredo, Sport, Islander, S, Sahara, Renegade, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S