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dreinecke 07-07-2013 04:56 PM

Bestop HighRock Installation Notes
When it came time to put bumpers on my JKU, I spent a ton of time on the forums looking at various threads and pictures of available bumpers. Thankfully, there is a wealth of information available that others have posted for folks such as myself.

My criteria for the front bumper was that it had to be look good, be full-width, heavy duty, incorporate the factory fog lights, have recovery points, and a mounting spot for a future winch. While I loved the look of the AEV, the price was a little outside of the budget for my build. I discovered the Bestop High Access front bumper and saw that it was available in Matte, a finish that looked close to my stock flares. It had everything on my wish list and was only about $600 including the Tubular Grill Guard.

For the rear bumper, I wanted one that was full-width, had a swing out tire carrier that moved with the tailgate, recovery points, and worked with the stock trailer hitch or had one built-in. Bestop's HighRock 4x4™ Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier fit that bill perfectly.

The part numbers for these items are:
HighRock 4x4™ Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier in Matte Finish: 44934-01
HighRock 4x4™ High Access Front Bumper in Matte Finish: 44918-01
HighRock 4x4™ Tubular Grill Guard: 44915-01

I ordered these from a small local shop, wanting to give them my cash and waited. About 2 weeks later I had front and rear bumpers and the carrier, but the front grill guard was still not in. While the tire carrier was boxed extremely well, the boxes containing the bumpers had both broken out and both bumpers had some chipping – mostly on the D-Ring mounts. Not happy, but figuring I could fix that (Rustoleum Truck Bedliner spray is a good match!) , I proceeded to install the rear bumper first.

Rear Bumper:
Removing the spare tire and installing the bracket for the Heim joint was easy except that the last two bolt holes on the end of the “C” didn't quite allow the bolt to go through and thread into the tailgate. Issue number one now made known, I simply enlarged the holes slightly and everything fell into place perfectly...until I noticed that this bracket didn't look like the one in the manufacturer's pictures or the instructions. Where those show a short “C”, mine was much larger.

Ok, not a big deal, and I figure that will spread the load over the tailgate better.

I removed the 10 pound, joke of a plastic rear bumper, and installed the Bestop unit. Things went smoothly and the bumper looked great. I followed instructions on the carrier bearing and started to install it when I ran into the second issue: the carrier spindle was pressed hard against the factory tailgate hinges!

Looking at the carrier, it was obvious that the carrier was not sitting parallel to the tailgate too – and I'd not even installed the rubber bumpers on it yet!

Back at the computer, I notice the Bestop factory pictures of the JK model show a completely different spindle with a smaller diameter base and cap!

The one that I have is shown on the TJ model in their factory pictures:

After doing more research online and talking to Bestop (who were not too helpful by phone) there may be two or more versions of this carrier being used. They both use the same spindle bearing it would appear, as well as the tailgate mounting “C” bracket.

After thinking about it, I decided to elongate the holes on the side bumper brackets in order to slide the bumper back about 1/4”. This moved the spindle away from the tailgate and straightened the rear carrier properly. Once done, I installed the rubber bumpers on the carrier that contact the bracket. These were easily about 3/4” too long and again pushed the carrier at a crooked angle from the tailgate. Using a hacksaw, I cut them to the appropriate size and then finished them off nicely with a quick hit of a table disk sander. Now, the carrier sat properly! The Heim joint was easy to install and adjust.

The LED light and tire mount went on without a hitch and since I'd done my research, I already knew to reverse the wires on the light. Once done, the bumper is outstanding and fits my needs perfectly. The few installation issues aside, it was pretty easy and gets lots of compliments from other JK owners.

Front Bumper:
The front bumper was simple to install after removing the worthless 20 pound plastic one (see a theme here?). I installed the bumper about a month before the grille guard came in. It fits well and as a full-width looks great. The only complaint I could have is that it doesn't bend back to perfectly meet the flares, but that is a minor gripe.

The original shop I ordered the guard from had two come in that were wrong – one was marked JK in matte finish but was a TJ part and the other came in as a JK with the glossy finish. All of that took 2 months before I had them refund my money. Not their issue, but I wasn't waiting for their distributor to fix the issue for the third time. I ordered the part online and got it in 3 days with the correct part!

The factory fog lights are a simple installation and look good. Once the guard came in, I installed it (you have to remove the bumper to do so) and mounted 2 new Hella Black Magic lights. As I wired it up, I became less enchanted with the way it looked; too much wire wrap and wiring exposed. My wife came into the garage and stated the obvious: “The wires look like crap exposed. Why don't you drill a hole and run them through the guard?”. A genius, this woman is! Off came everything again and out came the drill.

I drilled two small holes under the light mounts and inserted rubber grommets. Using some light string to fish the wires, I ran those into the holes and with the shop vacuum sucked them out the holes in the bottom of the guard I'd drilled for the wiring.

Matching those holes with the bumper, I then drilled the bumper and mounted the guard and finished running the wires.

The wiring was easy and I followed Hella's suggestion and tapped the high-beam wire (White/Green) on the driver's side headlight so I can run them by using the high/low beam switch (note: the rocker switch for the high-beams must be switched on for this to work!) and can rest easy knowing they are off when I shut off the Jeep. I did put the 6” of exposed wires in corrugated wire loom and used small black wire ties to keep them cleaned up and tight.

And the final results:

Was it some work? Yes, but it was well worth it! I love the way it looks, the bumpers are seriously heavy duty, and I'm now in the market for a winch!

The best part though? My wife now likes the way it looks. Happy wife, happy life!

RubiconRobert 09-04-2013 02:15 PM

I have this on my 09 and it rattles constantly and the hardware loosens. I have adjusted and replaced the hardware since Jun2013. I called Bestop customer service and they said they have never heard of any rattle issues. They explained that when two pieces of metal touch they can squeak! I replied your kidding ? Does everyone know this? They had a manager call and she was no more helpful that the customer service guy I spoke to. So now the designing engineer is calling me to discuss the installation process. I hope this gets resolved because I like their products and do not want to deal with trying to return or deal with squeaks and rattles.

legitposter 09-04-2013 03:05 PM

Wow that front bumper is huge! A little gremlin could use it as a cot. congrats though, go have fun.

stefel22 09-04-2013 03:53 PM

I have both bumpers as well . The price was right at the time and I do like the full width as it has saved my quarter panel on more than one occasion. However as the previous post stated the rear carrier has been rattling since I installed it 2 years ago. Ive tried everything, tightning everything down with a breaker bar, Installing daystar bump stops in the original bumpstop holes, Replacing the rubber bumpstops that come with the carrier, adjusting the hinges and lock stops on the tail gate, adjusting the heim joint. You name it, cant get the thing to stop rattling. After every adjustment its ok for a day or so then starts rattling again every time I hit a bump. If you figure out how to keep this thing quite , please let me know, in the mean time I'll just blast the radio

RubiconRobert 09-05-2013 09:05 AM

Okay so Bestop called and I spoke with the design engineer. They had me send photos and will be sending me new install hardware. They will study the pics and walk me through tweaking to fix the issues. I am 180 degrees out from my initial impression. I guess we got off on the wrong foot.

dreinecke 09-07-2013 11:08 PM

Bestop HighRock
Interesting. I get zero rattles on mine. I've wheeled with it several times too. I wonder if the hardware has changed through the years.

I really like these things and get lots of compliments on them. The front bumper is large, but I have to say; commuting on I-25 daily for 100 miles that I'm happy I've got a little bit more metal between me and anyone that wants to hit me.

I hope your issues get resolved! Let us know how it all works out.

RubiconRobert 10-14-2013 05:53 AM

Still waiting for bestop to contact me. I have called every week and leave messages with a manager. This weeks call will be requesting a full refund including shipping. I have been more than patient with this company.

dreinecke 10-14-2013 11:05 PM

That stinks. Well, you can't say you didn't try. Good luck and I hope you get all the money back!

RubiconRobert 11-15-2013 05:09 PM

I replaced all the hardware and Bestop sent me new bearings and a O ring. I just installed the other day and it rattles still but not as much. Bestop is not too good on customer service, they promise to call you with updates and then they don't. They refused to refund my money and told me to contact 4 wheel parts. I decided to just replace the parts and keep the bumper. They should stick to soft tops only. Beware people. IMO

Bamfsalad 10-30-2015 10:04 AM

HighRock Rear Bumper
I love the idea of this bumper because I didn't want to have to open/unlatch the bumper to get to the tailgate/back glass area. There is a decent amount of rattling though which is pretty annoying. Something about the hiem joint (the connecting piece between the tailgate and tirecarrier) just isn't right. I feel like I can tighten it by hand when I check it.

I bought this bumper because I didn't want my rear tire pulling down the tailgate anymore. The squeaking must be coming from either the hiem joint or the spindle where the tire mount arm swings.

Other than the occasional squeak (every time I go over a speed bump), this bumper is great and looks really good.

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