Rock Hard Skid & AEV Skid Plates

Skid Plates, an upgrade that doesn’t add performance; but can minimize  a nightmare scenario on the trail, or make your Jeep look great, but a necessity (in my opinion) for when off-roading.  The Jeep comes with “Skid Plates”, they are “tin foil” thin, and small, I wish Jeep wold make better ones or at least options for them with the Rubicon trim package.  

Do you need Skid plates? No. I know many people who do not add anything and have successful done many of not all the trails of Moab, Utah, or the Rubicon trail.  However I believe they are playing with fire without them.  For under $1,000 you have protection that has the ability to cost you alot more for an oil pan ripped off or transfer case crack open.  For me it’s an easy insurance policy.  Can I still do damage to the components under my Jeep?  Yes, but I have another layer of protection.

You have many companies that make skid plates, they are all about the same with very small differences.  The one difference I have seen between different companies is the size of the access port for the engine oil.  One Bigger difference is aluminum or steel.  Steel is by far cheaper, but your adding alot weight to the Jeep. Aluminum is far lighter but far more expensive.  As you can see both had advantages and disadvantage, so you’ll have to see what works best for you.

I have chosen to go with Steel Skid plates, from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), Poison Spider and Rock Hard.  The AEV Sid plate is for the rear differential, the Poison Spider is for the Evap Canister and the Rock Hard’s are the Oil Pan/Transmission, transfer case and fuel tank.

I was lucky enough to be able to have Dee at his work allow us to use the vehicle lifts after hours.  You can install all these in your garage or driveway, but having the extra height to work with make its easier; and it’s harder as you need to left these steel plates above your head and bolt them up.

The AEV rear differential slider, is installed with three “U” bolts that go around the yoke of the driveshaft and both side of sth differential.  The Differential is cast steel and very strong, but this adds a plate where rocks can side easier off the differential, and add more protection onto drain plug; on the Stock Dana 44, the drain plug is on the bottom of the differential.

The Poison Spider Evap Skid I feel is one of the most important.  The eval canister is plastic and the factory skid plate is very thin and thus weak.  For $110 it was an easy option.  This skid plate gets installed and stays on, as the Evap Canister bolts to the skid plate.  Installing this is daily easy, the skid plate is fairly light and you just have to reattach the hoses of the Evap Canister correctly, so take a picture to make you have it all plugged in correctly.

Pro Tip:

When installing the oil pan, transfer case and fuel tanks skid plates use an engine jack stand to help you; it supports the weight and you don’t have to hold the steel above your head.

The three Rock Hard skid plates I bought were steel and add what looks like a single flat surface under the jeep for rocks or obstructions to pass under unimpeded.  When buying skid plates for your fuel tank, transfer-case and oil pan, you don’t have to buy all three at the same time, but you should try to stay with the same company so they all fit.  If your tech savvy and into metal work, you can probably make it work, but for me, and the average Joe, stay with the same company.  When installing these skid plates they install atop each other, so you have to install from back to front.  Think of how you drive over a rock, you want the rock to slide and not get hung up on the lip of the skid plates, yes in this case you go backwards it will, but thats the way it is.  So start with the transfer case skid.  Get it up there and bolt it in, don’t tighten everything down, your going need some room to move around as your installing the oil pan skid.  You will have 4 bolts that go through the center cross member, those both will hold both the oil pan and transfer case skids.  Next you need to install engine brackets.  This just take time and your going to get a few bloody knuckles.  Having a ratcheting wrench helps, as your can’t get an impact or socket up there.  Now simply starch the oil pan skis and tighten all the bolts.  

The three Rock Hard skid plates I bought were steel and add what looks like a single flat surface under the jeep for rocks or obstructions to pass under unimpeded.  When buying skid plates for your fuel tank, transfer-case and oil pan, you don’t have to buy all three at the same time, but you should try to stay with the same company so they all fit.  If your tech savvy and into metal work, you can probably make it work, but for me, and the average Joe, stay with the same company.  When installing these skid plates they install atop each other, so you have to install from back to front.  Think of how you drive over a rock, you want the rock to slide and not get hung up on the lip of the skid plates, yes in this case you go backwards it will, but thats the way it is.  So start with the transfer case skid.  Get it up there and bolt it in, don’t tighten everything down, your going need some room to move around as your installing the oil pan skid.  You will have 4 bolts that go through the center cross member, those both will hold both the oil pan and transfer case skids.  Next you need to install engine brackets.  This just take time and your going to get a few bloody knuckles.  Having a ratcheting wrench helps, as your can’t get an impact or socket up there.  Now simply starch the oil pan skis and tighten all the bolts.  

Next up is the fuel tank skid.  I went with this as on my 2013 JKU, I just had the factory skid and they did the job, but it is thin and bends with the rocks, and once it bends it’s never going back.  I lost about one gallon of capacity, I assume as the fuel tank was heavily dented.  I never got a hole or punctured the tank, but lost capacity.  I chose to install this now before  I off-road’d this Jeep and lost capacity like I did on my other Jeep.  This skid plate installs over the factor one, as the factory skid is molded to the fuel tank.  I would have to drop the fuel tank to remove the factor skid.  So I guess I have double protection!  This simple and hard at the same time. It’s simple as you just have to remove a few bolts from sth factory and putts atop and replace the both, the hard part s the weight and length of the skid plate.  

Since I love in NorthEast Ohio, and the winters do not like steel, I chose to remove the AEV Differential Skid, Oil pan and transfer case skids when Im not off-roading.  These are simple to remove and install, and take about 1 hour.  I’m saving on weight and wear-and-tear on these components.  When I remove them, I sand out the rust spots and put a fresh coat of spay paint to protect them.

https://www.expeditionteamoverland.com/2018-JKU-Rubicon-Recon-Gobi-Build/Rock-Hard-Skid-Plates-Install

Published by Expedition Team. Overland

As a Boy Scout Eagle Scout, camping, camp fires and maps have always been a passion. After getting my professional carrier established as a Boeing 737 Captain for a Major US Airline, I was able to get back to my routes of playing in the woods, mud and building things. I got my first Jeep in 2012. It was a 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ, I did not modify it, and it had many mechanical problems, as I was a novice, and not mechanical, I sold it for a new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited. In 2014 I installed an American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) 2.5" lift with Kelly Safari 35" tires. In 2015 I continued my build with AEV front and rear bumpers, snorkel, skid plates, and off road lights. Up until now, I did off-roading at the local Southington Off Road Park, Rausch Creek in Pennsylvania, and Badlands Park in Indiana. JKFreaks.com was an outstanding resource and I was able to make life-long friendship. In 2015 I did my first big trip with the jeep, first we stopped in Ouray, Colorado. We had two days of trails and did Imogene & Engineer Passes. I left part of myself in the San Juan Mountains and my want to return has been strong since. After Ouray, we went to Moab, Utah for Jeep Jamboree. Moab is "Jeepers Paradise". Endless miles of trails, from dirt roads to the most extreme, Moab offers endless possibilities for the Jeeper, hiker, mountain biker, everyone. Since 2015 I have returned to Moab in 2017 & 2019. In 2018, I traded in my 2013 JKU Sport for a 2018 JKU Rubicon Recon. I did this drastic move, because I was at the point in my build where I needed to upgrade my axels. I made the very difficult decision and striped as much as I could from my 2013 Jeep to move to the new jeep, as they were both the same style of jeeps; JKU's. I spent the spring and summer of 2018 to build my jeep. I once again installed an AEV 3.5" lift, 35" BFGoodrich KO2's and AEV front and rear bumpers. With this build I wanted to move from the "Rock Crawler" to an Overland build. I can still do all the difficult trail of Moab, Rubicon Trail, but also the fire roads and cover many miles full of camping and off road gear. With Overlanding in mind, I have build a cargo platform for my ARB 50q Fridge, and specific loading of the camping gear. Where is the Future? Buying an Earth Roamer and exploring as much of the country as possible? Thats a goal, but I hope in the coming years to get a roof rack, roof top tent, and then doing more Expeditions though Appalachian, Rocky Mountains, desert of New Mexico and Arizona, and the National Parks west of the Rocky Mountains.

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