Why Every Jeep JK Wrangler Owner Needs Skid Plates NOW
Greetings, fellow Jeep JK Wrangler enthusiasts! If you've ever taken your beloved JK or JKU off the beaten path, you know the sheer joy of conquering rugged terrains and venturing into the wild. However, you're also likely aware that the thrill comes with a fair share of challenges, and one of the most significant concerns when taking your JK offroad is protecting that vulnerable underbelly. That's where skid plates come into play, and trust me, they're more than just an accessory; they're a necessity. So, let's dive in and explore why every Jeep JK owner needs skid plates now.
The Jeep JK's Off-Roading Prowess
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of skid plates, let's take a moment to appreciate the marvel that is the Jeep JK. I've been an avid off-roader for years, and there's something truly special about a Wrangler's ability to tackle challenging terrains. Whether it's crawling over rocks, traversing through mud, or navigating steep inclines, the JK does it with finesse.
The Vulnerable Underbelly: A Real Concern
As much as I adore Jeeps, there's one thing that's always kept me on edge – the undercarriage. Some parts hang a bit lower than you'd like, and when you're crawling over rocks or sliding through a muddy trail, it's easy to imagine the havoc those obstacles can wreak underneath. It's not just rocks; branches, stumps, and even sharp breakovers can pose a threat to your Jeep's belly.
The accompanying photo shows just how little protection the factory provides and that's something to consider before heading off the pavement. Over the years, I've seen plenty of damage on customer's Jeeps from offroad excursions that they took before realizing the importance of off-road skid plates.
Enter Skid Plates: Your Off-Roading Savior
Now, let's talk about the heroes of our story – Jeep skid plates. These aren't just any metal plates; they're your Jeep's shield against the perils of off-roading. Skid plates are designed to cover and protect critical components under your JK, including the engine, transmission, transfer case, and more.
The Benefits of Skid Plates
Protection Against Rocks, Debris, and Obstacles
Skid plates provide a solid barrier between your Jeep's vital components and the unforgiving terrain. Rocks, sharp debris, or fallen branches are no match for the strength and durability of properly installed skid plates. They absorb impacts and prevent costly damage that could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
I've personally seen an oil drain plug torn out of a Jeep engine's oil pan. The oil quickly drained and left the Jeep stuck right where it was. The surprising thing was that where it happened wasn't even what anyone considered an "obstacle".
Increased Offroad Capability
Another benefit of full skid plate protection is that the underside of your JK becomes smoother. A smoother undercarriage means that there are fewer things under your Jeep to get hung up on. A smoother underside makes your Jeep more capable of getting over any obstacle that comes your way.
Enhanced Durability for Extended Off-Road Adventures
If you live for extended off-road adventures that take you deep into the wilderness, skid plates are your ticket to pushing your Jeep JK to the limits without worrying about damage. They add an extra layer of durability to your off-roading adventures, allowing you to explore more and worry less.
Especially when you're far away from home, passing an interesting trail section or area would be a shame. You may never have the opportunity to visit that area again. Having solid skid plate protection lets you explore more and can be crucial to getting back home after each adventure.
Peace of Mind Knowing Your Jeep is Safeguarded
Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of skid plates is the peace of mind they offer. When you're on the trail, the last thing you want to think about is the potential damage to your Jeep. Skid plates provide that assurance, allowing you to concentrate on the thrill of the ride.
Types of Skid Plates Available for your 2007-2018 Jeep JK Wrangler
Wrangler protection accessories such as skid plates come in various flavors, tailored to protect different parts of your Jeep. Let's take a quick look at the primary types.
Engine and Transmission Skid Plates
These protect your engine's vulnerable oil pan and prevent your transmission from damage. They're a must-have for anyone who plans to tackle rocky or rough terrains. Plus, they're usually one relatively easy to install skid plate, rather than two separate skids.
Just look at how much protection our Skid Row Offroad engine/transmission skid plate (Part# JP-5017) provides on this 2012 model JKU.
Gas Tank Skid Plates
Gas tank skid plates provide an extra layer of protection for your fuel tank. While the factory does provide a skid plate, it's quite thin and is not hard to damage. Once the factory skid plate has caved in, your fuel tank may have a reduced capacity. Sure, it will cost less per fill up, but you won't get as far between fill ups. A proper gas tank skid ensures that your gas tank remains intact, even when you're navigating the most challenging off-road trails.
Transfer Case Skid Plates
Transfer case skid plates provide protection for this crucial component. If you're venturing into extreme off-road situations, these are a wise addition to your arsenal as the transfer case is in the very middle of your Jeep and is very easily hit.
Installation: A DIY-Friendly Investment
Now, you might be thinking, "Okay, skid plates sound amazing, but what about the installation process?" It's a valid concern, and the great news is that skid plates are usually designed with DIY enthusiasts in mind. Sure, you can have a shop install your skid plates for an additional cost but, many Jeep JK owners find that they can successfully install skid plates themselves.
DIY installation not only saves you money but also allows you to get hands-on with your Jeep and gain a deeper understanding of its mechanics. Most skid plates come with clear instructions and all the necessary hardware, making the installation process manageable for anyone with basic mechanical skills. And for those Jeep JK owners who tackle a skid plate installation themselves, there's the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that DIY installation brings.
Yes, there's a cost involved in purchasing skid plates, but consider it an investment in your off-roading adventures. It's a small price to pay compared to potential repair expenses if your transfer case is cracked open, for example.