If you take your 4x4 off-roading, you have likely gained an appreciation of how unforgiving trails can be when it comes to your vehicle's underside. Deep ruts with rough edges can appear out of nowhere, sturdy-looking rocks can shift unexpectedly, and tranquil bodies of water can hide everything from sinkholes to fallen tree trunks. Before you know it, the underside of your truck has bounced off something hard enough to damage moving suspension components or puncture housings containing engine oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, or differential gear oil.
Or, maybe you face similar perils on jobsites or rural routes where terrain is pretty sketchy. Off-roading experts say protecting critical mechanical parts with purpose-built skid plates is a must to ensure your enjoyment off the pavement doesn't end prematurely with heartache and metal damage.
Your rig may have come from the factory with skid plates, but some of these are more for good looks than for serious damage protection. To provide the full protection you desire, you want skid plates made from strong 3/16" steel, as are the ones we sell.
In this article, we'll look at vehicle-specific skid plates that offer a shield of reinforced-steel protection for oil pans, transfer cases, trans pans, differentials, steering boxes, control arms, and fuel tanks. One of the best things about these protective pans is even though they'll keep their high-strength integrity for a long time, it only takes a very short time to install any of them. In fact, they can bolted on rather easily - with or without minor drilling depending on application.
With one exception, all of the skid plates we offer are made of reinforced steel covered with powdercoating that's durable enough to resist scraping off the way paint and lesser finishes would on contact.
If you've got a late-model diesel truck with a urea injection system, you'll find specially designed protective shields for the urea tank area in the Product Options field of Skyjacker Skid Plates and Fabtech Off-Road Skid Plates. Skyjacker also offers skid plates for the engine and transfer case areas for select vehicles, and the Fabtech page features steering box as well as transfer case protection.
Combination engine/transmission skid plate kits are available for select truck and SUV models as the Superlift Skid Plate kit.
For those who prefer the corrosion resistance of stainless steel, Pro Comp offers a selection of Skid Plates in bare metal stainless steel. Should they become severely scraped or dented, their integrity won't be compromised - because rust simply cannot get a foothold anywhere.
If you regularly drive over rocks, it should be second nature to approach bigger ones with caution. But smaller rocks shouldn't be ignored either. They may not pose a big threat to your oil pan or differentials, but they can inflict damage on lower control arms more easily than you might think.
Experienced off-roaders acknowledge skid plate protection for lower control arms should be fitted if you go anywhere where rubber meets rocks - citing "rookie mistakes" of unprotected suspension arms becoming damaged and leaving drivers stranded or limping home. For this, we've got the Icon Lower Control Arms Skid Plate Kit, the Rancho rockGEAR Control Arm Skid Plates, and the TeraFlex RockGuard Skid Plates.
Note that TeraFlex offers a varied line of skid plates for Jeep Wranglers dating back to 1987. Among other products, you'll find a "Belly Up" Skid Plate Kit which increases ground clearance by 2 3/8" because it replaces the factory skid plate with a lower profile one of heavier-grade strength. Also available in Product Options are skid plates for Wrangler gas tanks, oil pans, trans pans, and steering boxes.
Jeep specialists Rugged Ridge also have Wranglers well covered in the Product Options field of their Differential Skid Plate offerings. There, you'll find protection for differentials, front & rear lower control arms, transfer case, engine, tranny, mufflers, and even evaporative emissions canisters.
Additionally, there's the Rancho rockGEAR Steering Box Skid Plate, the one-piece Paramount Off Road Engine/Transmission Black Skid Plate, the Rancho rockGEAR Differential Glide Skid Plate, and the Rancho rockGEAR Engine Oil Pan Skid Plate.
While specific installation instructions will vary from part to part and manufacturer to manufacturer, attaching a skid plate is a relatively straightforward process. Some skid plates for oil pans or transmission pans in areas that are easily accessible from below may re-use existing pan bolts for attachment. Once you drop the pan and install a new gasket (available in the appropriate Replacement Engine or Replacement Transmission categories) you'll simply fit the new skid plate over the pan and bolt both items back in place together.
In other cases, you may need a drill and drill bits designed for metal in order to bore holes in the vehicle's frame. Remember that because skid plates are protecting low-lying items, the areas where any drilling would be done will be relatively easily to reach. After marking off and drilling new holes, you will either bolt the skid plate directly to the underside, or bolt bracket pieces to the car to which the skid plate will be attached. There is no need for any installation anxiety because instructions you'll receive will be clear with easy-to-follow diagrams.
We know that providing additional protection to the underside of your 4x4 will lead to great peace of mind, whether you are traversing nature's jungle or the concrete jungle. Skid plates will allow you to relax and enjoy what you're primarily trying to do, unafraid to drive over that next hurdle, protected from critical damage!