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Old 06-21-2009, 10:58 PM   #1
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Under-Armor

90% of the time I'm on not-too-rocky Northeast trails, but sometimes something will jump up and bite the undercarriage pretty hard. I currently do not have any armor under the Jeep. I'm looking for some info on where to start. Like- Which piece is most important? I'm planning on getting only a few things so I'd like to choose them wisely and get the most protection for the money. Diff covers? Steering box plate? Rocker guards? where do I start?

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Old 06-21-2009, 11:29 PM   #2
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I started with heavy duty diff covers and lower control arm skids, as well as a steering box skid. It's hard to decide which component is the most important to protect, because they can all be disastrous on the trail, and you can never predict which is going get banged up first. In a perfect world you would skid everything all at one time and go about your business, but we all know that world doesn't exist for us normal folk. I'd say skid whatever has the least clearance and work your way up from there... I really like the idea of oil pan protection though.

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Old 06-22-2009, 08:12 AM   #3
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Gas tank: stock one is marginal at best
Oil pan: Get a hole in this your day is over
Rock guards: Most common area that gets hit.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:04 PM   #4
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by rock guards, do you mean the guards under the doors? I was looking at some of those, along with the oil pan guard to start.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:18 PM   #5
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Yep, X3 on protecting the oil pan but I'd bump that up to the #1 priority. Put a hole into the oil pan and you're not going anywhere and if you dent it badly enough, you're not going anywhere either since the crankshaft is right inside.

After that, early TJs like yours and mine have cheesy gas tank skidplates (thin enough that it's really not even a skid plate) and the gas tank is actually what takes the most hits offroad. So that should be a close #2 behind the oil pan skidplate and it's so close in priority that I'd install both an oil pan skidplate and gas tank skidplate at the same time. Newer TJs have a much sturdier gas tank skidplate so theirs is not as critical but for early TJs like your '98 and my '97, it isn't hard to puncture what the factory installed.

The rest of the skidplates likd for the control arms, steering box, etc. are important but take a back seat to the needs of the oil pan and gas tank.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:55 PM   #6
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I guess that makes sense- oil and gasoline are pretty crucial, so I hear....
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Old 06-26-2009, 11:29 AM   #7
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I'd start with the lowest portion of the Jeep and work up. Start with differential protection. You'll smack your diff's a lot because they hang lower than anything else on your Jeep. Then your gas tank skid plate and tie-rod or upgraded steering system. I've seen several people driver right into a rock and bend the factory tie-rod. Also, the added stress of oversize tires will fold up a tie-rod like a coat hanger.

Others I'd do are:

Oil pan skid. Like other have said, toast your oil pan and your day is done. Not only that, the rest of your day and possibly night will be trying to figure out how to get home.

Lower control arm skids. They hang low and tend to get banged around.

Bumpers. Make sure you get a good, solid steel bumper. 3/16" steel will do but if you can find 1/4" that would be better. My bumpers get a lot of abuse. Also, make sure your bumpers have recovery points that are welded through the bumper. Not just welded onto the surface of the bumper.

Rocker guards. These offer protection to the tub and also give you a strong pivot point on some of those tight trails. Try to find one with an integrated step as you'll find they come in handy when you're working on your top and they also add a little bit of strengh.

Rear corners. If you wheel in places wher ethe trails are tight you'll find yourself bumping the rear of your Jeep off of the rocks every now and then. Reinforcing the rear corners of your tub will keep the body straight.

Tube fenders. Same as the rear corners mentioned above. They can also add some beefier structure to the front of your Jeep. (debatable...I know)
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Old 06-26-2009, 11:38 AM   #8
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wow- armor is not cheap...
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:22 PM   #9
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wow- armor is not cheap...
If you don't offroad, armor is very expensive. If you offroad, it is very cheap when compared to what you'd otherwise might have to replace.
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:31 PM   #10
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wow- armor is not cheap...
That's why I made my own. When I got into Jeepin almost 20 yrs ago. I found out real early that it was an expensive hobby. Took a couple of welding classes, and went to town. Saved myself hundreds of dollars.
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:45 PM   #11
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wow- armor is not cheap...
You can double up the factory gas tank skids. It will lower your clearance some, but you get the protection.

Control arm skids are about $30.

Diff covers can be found for $50 apiece. I don't have a front one, and I've hammered that thing pretty hard; hard enough that it's immediately ceased my forward movement going 10~15 mph. I had to get one for my rear though, because I have an 8.8, and I would have long ago peeled the diff cover off if I hadn't gotten one.

Tie rods can be found for less than $100. Even being as thick as mine is, I've bent it pretty good, but at least with an HD one you can bend it back and get home. The stock one is useless once it's bent. I know a lot of guys who just sleeve their stock ones, but I've seen those break a lot.

I got a 3/16" Mopar oil pan skid off a stock Jeep that was given to me. It was made for a stock Jeep, but a little welding and I made it work for mine. The original owner got rid of it when he lifted his.

Rokmen makes some nice corners for Jeeps. I got their blems to save some money. I was just going to primer and paint them flat black anyway, so I figured I'd save the money. I don't know what they call blems, but I've never seen anything I would call a blemish.

If you look around, you can easily get all these things covered for decent prices. You don't have to spend a ton of money.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:20 AM   #12
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Diff covers can be found for $50 apiece.
Where?

EDIT: oops, sorry for the thread resurrection.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:57 AM   #13
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early TJs like yours and mine have cheesy gas tank skidplates (thin enough that it's really not even a skid plate)
One day I heard a loud Clang, shwoosh! When we were coming out of a off road area and getting back on the road. I didn't think anything of it till I got out at home and noticed I was missing the left side of my Gas tank "Skid Plate". Musta been driving around with it dangling there digging into the dirt the whole time.

I was watching Extreme 4x4 and they were saying front end armor should be avoided because it makes the front end even more heavier and can cause issues. What do you think?
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:22 PM   #14
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I was watching Extreme 4x4 and they were saying front end armor should be avoided because it makes the front end even more heavier and can cause issues. What do you think?
To a point they're correct, I'm trying to shed weight off my TJ by switching to aluminum where I can. But until Savvy Offroad come up with a T-6 6061 aluminum skidplate for my oil pan and steering box, I'll keep those two locations safe with my existing steel skidplates. I do hate huge heavy steel front bumpers for that reason.
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Old 09-01-2009, 11:31 AM   #15
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What model year did the OEM gas tank skid plate become less horrible?
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:36 AM   #16
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great info guys, I am wheelin' this saturday over some rocks. I looked under the jeep last night and thought "ok, oilpan, exhaust, etc..." all kinds of things to tear up under there. For now, Im taking it slow on the easy obstacles with the family. But I will soon be investing in some armor after the vulnerabilities I spotted under there.

I really cannot believe the stupid exhaust system on my YJ. They come back off the manifold and down about three inches lower than anything else. Then, curve back up and over the rear skid plate into the catalitic convertor. Why the hell would it dip like that? Its just askin' to be crushed in a hurry out there.

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