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Slipping Your Tacoma Through Danger: Rock Sliders & Rocker Guards

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Shop Tacoma Rocker Guards

Generally speaking, we off-roaders and adventurers look forward down the trails and towards the horizon. Side impacts aren't always the first thing we consider. Rocker guards and sliders will alleviate these impacts and may even negate them altogether. The biggest bonus is the sliders and guards will take the damage instead of the body of your Tacoma.

Shop Rock Sliders

You never really think about it until you see it. We’ve all been there, staring at a Tacoma wearing its battle scars proudly; then you notice it. Rockers that are crumpled up like old beer cans are a real eyesore. There’s nothing you can say though; sometimes sliding across and bashing into the tops of rocks and logs is unavoidable. Once it’s done, it’s not really worth fixing either. The cost of replacing the panels with a proper paint job only for them to get banged up again just doesn’t sit well. Because of this, many let it be. But you can always be proactive and protect the Tacoma’s rocker panels with some of the following easy-to-install accessories.

Rocker Guarder

Rocker panels are on the front line when the truck is riding up and over obstacles on the trails. Manufacturers have recognized this and developed a couple of remedies for the situation. You have two options two deter impact and slide across obstacles: rocker guards and rock sliders. Both look very similar but serve two very different purposes. 

Rocker Guards: Rocker guards are designed to act as a shield when off-roading. As the vehicle bounces up and over obstacles, an impact to the rocker can be unavoidable. The guards are designed to take those blows in place of the sheet metal. This upgrade is perfect for moderate off-roading where one will generally be riding well above obstacles with a few day ruining exceptions. 

Rock Sliders: Heavy impacts are surprises for many overlanders and light trail riders, but those who live on the rocks know very well what to expect. Sliders are meant to extend the Tacoma’s off-road capabilities. These units are designed to help the truck slide across obstacles when contact is made. If you plan on doing any sort of rock crawling where you find yourself at great inclines or decent, you cannot afford to skip this upgrade as they can be the difference in being caught in a sticky situation.

Side Steps: Do They Stack Up?

Side steps share a lot of similar qualities to those of rocker guards and sliders. They look similar, mount similarly and can even be designed for a rugged appearance. The truth of the matter is that side steps are not designed to take the beatings that rocker guards or sliders do. Sure, they might take the blow instead of the sheet metal, but if they’re mounted to the body of the Tacoma, you’re in the same situation if not worse. Do not depend on side steps like you would rocker guards or rock sliders.

Rocker Guards with Steps

Some manufacturers take the liberty of building rocker guards with incorporated steps. On paper, this seems like a great idea, and for those who intend to do light off-roading with the occasional bounce, these are great options. 

If you plan to make contact to the rockers often, low hanging steps may become an obstacle in themselves. If getting snagged on rocks isn’t much of a worry to you then there is no issue with going this direction. However, if you plan to ride close to rocks often, get used to jumping up into your truck.

How Bad Can It Be?

You might be tempted to write off this expense as redundant. It’s easy to say that you would just avoid the obstacles that can smack or bind up on the rocker. Before you do so, you should check out your buddy’s truck or someone who’s spent some time on the trails you’re about to explore. Regardless of how mild it may be, there are likely some good dents and scratches down under.

When to Choose Rocker Guards

Rocker guards are meant to take impacts. Impacts to the rocker can happen when you’re off-roading and an obstacle catches you off guard. It could be stump or stone you didn’t see, perhaps lose ground slides out from underneath you while exploring, or you might underestimate how hard your Tacoma will come down off of something you’re crawling over. With any off-road expedition, rocker guards are the bare minimum level of protection you should fit your truck with. They’re better to have and not need than to need and not have.

When to Choose Rock Sliders

Rock sliders apply to a very particular group. Those who spend a lot of time crawling around on their bellies know how and why to put these bad boys to use. Crumpled up rockers will make it harder to slide across the top of rocks. 

Sliders make it easier to do so. Sure, they can help prevent impact but, by design, they are intended to be an extension of the Tacoma’s ability to crawl. If you’re intending on any sort of rock crawling, even if only for a moment, you should grab sliders over guards. You may even want these for any build anyway.

Installation

Rocker guards and rock sliders are foreign to the design of the Tacoma. This means installation will take a bit of focus. This doesn’t mean a professional shop must do the job for you though. Rock sliders or guards will take roughly about two hours of your time and is more fun with a friend. 

Where They Mount: On Tacoma’s either option typically mounts to the frame. This is a good thing because it gives the product a solid foundation to rely on when put to use. 

What You Will Need: Depending on the part number purchased and the year of Tacoma you are working with, holes may need to be drilled. If that is the case you will need a good drill and bits to do the job. Otherwise, basic hand tools are the only other requirement.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro