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Old 02-26-2013, 03:35 PM   #1
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Rock rails=enhanced side impact crash protection?

As part of the initiation process, every noob is entitled to one stupid question, right? Right? Here's mine...

I'm planning on a Wrangler for my next vehicle and have been obsessively lurking in the forums (since several months before my official 'join' date). Currently, I'm in the middle of weighing 2-dr vs 4-dr, model, potential mods, options, you know, the "usual stuff".

One option that I'll definitely go for is the side airbags. I'd also strongly be considering rock rails as a beginner/easy mod. In addition to their intended trail benefits, I'm wondering if you fine folks might have information, anectodal or otherwise, about whether these might have an added perk as a wee bit of extra protection in case of a side impact crash?

Thanks in advance for any information (or heck, good old fashioned speculation) you might be able to provide.

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Old 02-26-2013, 03:48 PM   #2
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I would agree that the Rubicon rails definitely are an asset when it comes to side impact.

I got hit on the side by a full size Chevy 2500HD pickup truck.

Guys tore his front wheel assembly right off the truck (including control arms, etc) after he hit me.

I had mostly cosmetic damage (no frame at all) and was able to drive away to my body shop.

Passenger rock rail had a scratch.

Guy hit me doing at least 25MPH (he was slowing down at the time of impact from speeding)

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Old 02-26-2013, 03:53 PM   #3
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One thing I can say for sure...if some moron swings his door into your Jeep in the grocery store parking lot, a rock rail will keep your Jeep ding-free, while sending him to the dent doctor with a nice crease in his door.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:02 PM   #4
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Sure, I'd think so.

You're not going to find any crash tests or anything. But I do feel better with my JCR rails providing some extra coverage than I did without them.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:02 PM   #5
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Yes, it will add a lot of rigidity to the side of your Jeep and in the event of an impact will spread the load across a wider surface.
Your Delta V number will be a lot smaller which usually helps!
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cctriesch
Yes, it will add a lot of rigidity to the side of your Jeep and in the event of an impact will spread the load across a wider surface.
Your Delta V number will be a lot smaller which usually helps!
^There. Sounds science-y. I'll go with that.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:12 PM   #7
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Yes sir! Since the rubi rails are flush with the body it won't help as much as one that juts out such as ace. Still either one will add rigidity and direct more of the force into the frame as opposed to the body. it'll really shine if you got side swiped or if someone swings their door into you
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:18 PM   #8
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The OP bringing up the side air bags makes for a good question though. Where are the sensors and what sets them off? The most important thing being, could the rails cause them to not activate during a time they should?
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:20 PM   #9
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if you have rubi rails, you can always add the ACE engineering rails. they fit over the rubi rails and add an extra rigidity and protection layer. that said, chevy's adverts about being hard like a rock seem to be the farthest from the truth. lol
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrispyB
The OP bringing up the side air bags makes for a good question though. Where are the sensors and what sets them off? The most important thing being, could the rails cause them to not activate during a time they should?
Good question.

I don't know the answer, but I think it's noteworthy that the rubicon model comes with rock rails stock. So those can't cause any significant interference.

Just a thought.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:45 PM   #11
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I have ACE rails on my rubi. I had another driver miss a curve and sideswipe me at a combined speed of +70mph. He caught my drivers side rock rail right at the A pillar and went all the way down the left side of the jeep. The only damage I sustained was a slight dent in the rail and some missing powder coat. He would have wiped out my doors and tub if I wouldn't have had the rails. Best mod money I have spent stop far. SOB took off from the scene so I didn't get to see the damage to his car.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:03 AM   #12
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Many thanks for the feedback, y'all. Guess my question wasn't so stupid after all!
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:29 AM   #13
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I sure wish I had some rock rails on my Jeep the other day when my father in law, who is a safety manager of a fleet and also owns a patent for a backup counting device to help prevent backing accidents and says daily how dangerous backing is, back to his car into the side of my 8 week old Rubicon. A rock rail would have saved my paint....
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrispyB View Post
The OP bringing up the side air bags makes for a good question though. Where are the sensors and what sets them off? The most important thing being, could the rails cause them to not activate during a time they should?
Rock rails will not affect the side air bags. Typically, air bag ECUs use accelerometers as the input sensor. All the system is looking for is a threshold acceleration to fire the airbags.

While the rock rails appear to be robust, they are not designed to offer significant protection from high speed impacts. They are made to slide over obstacles which would otherwise damage the pinch seam of the body's lower rocker. One indication of the rock rail's true design intent is stand-off from the main body. True appliqué armor (which is what classification rock rails would fall under if they were true heavy impact armor) offers stand-off distance between it and the main body of the vehicle if it took a hit. Stand-off distance allows room for the armor to deflect, and if the hit is big enough, deform without allowing (too much) damage to the vehicle (For reference, look up the Frag 5 kits in online image searches). This spreads out the time of the impact, thereby reducing it.

Rock rails do not provide appreciable stand-off. They are built close to the body to minimize the profile of the Jeep, which aids in mobility. All they do is act as a buffer between nature and our Jeeps, spreading the load of a hit out. In the case of a truly big hit, such as a car accident, the rock rail would be jammed against the body of the Jeep and the offending vehicle. No big surprise, right? Rock rails would more than likely help in bracing the body of the Jeep, but the Jeep would still feel that acceleration pulse. That means the nessessary conditions to fire the airbag would exist. Incidentally, a cursory inspection of the premium Mopar rock rails would suggest they would do a better job of protection than the standard Rubicon rails.

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