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Old 07-01-2019, 03:04 PM
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Diff covers vs Diff skid plates?

This past week drove my '17 Rubicon JKU to Colorado and on a trail ride I skinned the OEM diff cover on a rock. Beat it down with a hammer so I wasn't leaking too much oil to get me off the trail and back to base. Latter pulled the diff cover, beat it as flat as we could, resealed, added more diff fluid and fixed the leak.

Now I either want to get new aftermarket diff covers or diff skid plates so that doesn't happen again. Wanted to ask the forum members their opinions about which is best.

TIA!

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Old 07-01-2019, 03:10 PM   #2
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For ease of install I would lean towards a skid plate, but it could also act as a shovel.
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Old 07-01-2019, 03:35 PM   #3
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Rough Country differential sliders are one of the best things I've put on my jeep.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:29 PM   #4
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Rough Country differential sliders are one of the best things I've put on my jeep.
Ditto
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Old 07-01-2019, 10:31 PM   #5
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I'm a big fan of my Poison Spyder Bombshell covers. They are solid and beefy, I can't imagine a way to peel one of them back.


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Old 07-02-2019, 06:51 AM   #6
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A diff slider for the rear is a great idea. It protects the input pinion area and helps the rear diff glide over rocks much easier. I run the AEV slider because it doesn't affect ground clearance and it mounts to the axle tubes at the rear instead of using the diff cover bolts. BUT, the AEV slider still leaves the lower lip of the cover exposed, so you would need to run a diff cover guard or new diff cover. I use a Warn diff guard with the AEV slider and it has taken a real beating.


For the front, I would recommend a heavy duty cast iron cover just because you are way more likely to smack the front cover head-on. Just make sure that whatever front cover you get will clear with whatever suspension you are running.
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Old 07-02-2019, 06:58 AM   #7
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everyone is talking about diff skid plates because the JL came out and they stupidly put the diff drain plug on the bottom of the of the housing.

on the JK, stick with strong diff covers. you'll be fine.
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:21 AM   #8
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We have the ARB diff covers. I prefer the dip stick for checking fluid level and I like the larger vertical hole to pour fluid into when filling. But just about anything is better than the stock beer can covers.
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:51 AM   #9
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Heavy diff covers also support the housing structure to help prevent Gear deflection, which diff sliders do not. Running both would be the most protection all round.


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Old 07-02-2019, 12:42 PM   #10
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A diff slider for the rear is a great idea. It protects the input pinion area and helps the rear diff glide over rocks much easier. I run the AEV slider because it doesn't affect ground clearance and it mounts to the axle tubes at the rear instead of using the diff cover bolts. BUT, the AEV slider still leaves the lower lip of the cover exposed, so you would need to run a diff cover guard or new diff cover. I use a Warn diff guard with the AEV slider and it has taken a real beating.


For the front, I would recommend a heavy duty cast iron cover just because you are way more likely to smack the front cover head-on. Just make sure that whatever front cover you get will clear with whatever suspension you are running.
Agree here. The only thing I'll add is I was also concerned about the front diff lip using the AEV slider (I have the ARB diff cover.) It's been 5 years of rock crawling and no issues. If anyone is going to beat up a cover it's me.
I've had many people berate the slider because of concerns it can get caught up on rocks. Also not been the case. I should add however that I do have a good lift and lots of sexy flexy. But i'd rather get stuck on a hunk of metal and protect the other bits.
The magnetic dipstick in the ARB is the real deal. My Yukon front locker grenaded- I had a Gobstopper sized ball of metal shavings stuck to the dipstick. I am 100% certain it saved my gears. Understandably I am paranoid about my diff. so being able to check it easily is a huge plus.
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Old 07-02-2019, 04:03 PM   #11
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oops, somehow I double posted.
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Old 07-02-2019, 04:06 PM   #12
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My rear AEV slider has definitely saved me from some significant pinion impacts. Not too worried about the front because I'm running a PR44 which has a crazy beefy nodular iron cover. This seems to be the best setup for maintaining as much diff clearance as possible, very important for guys like me running 33s.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:20 PM   #13
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Heavy diff covers also support the housing structure to help prevent Gear deflection, which diff sliders do not. Running both would be the most protection all round.


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Agreed.

Both would be the best choice. But if you picked only one, the diff cover is probably the better option because of what it does to strengthen the differential housing.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:33 PM   #14
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I also have 33's so have no interest in reducing the clearance under my diffs. So far, I've ground the lower part of the stock covers down so it won't catch if I slide over a rock. I'll do covers eventually.
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Old 07-03-2019, 02:05 PM
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Yall have given me lots to think about, never even thought about the diff cover strengthening the housing before. Probably go with the ARB covers, front and rear, and the AEV slider in the rear too.

Thanks for your input!
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Old 07-03-2019, 04:37 PM   #16
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Your diffs will thank you. LOL. And SHOULD you get hung up on a rock ever....(NEVER ME!) you'll feel better knowing your bits are protected as you get yanked off.
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Old 07-03-2019, 06:07 PM   #17
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Agreed.

Both would be the best choice. But if you picked only one, the diff cover is probably the better option because of what it does to strengthen the differential housing.
Like to see the math on that one
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Old 07-03-2019, 07:12 PM   #18
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Covers for me.

'cause I don't want to lose any ground clearance.
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:04 AM   #19
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Like to see the math on that one
Well, there is no doubt that a cover will add strength/rigidity to the housing assembly. How much? I have no idea. How much does the stock center section deflect? I haven't seen any hard data, but then again I haven't looked.

What I do know is that very small changes in the alignment of the gears can cause significant gear issues.

What I also know is that heavy-duty covers are often mounted using a gasket (like a LubeLocker), or the surfaces that mate against the axle housing and/or under the bolt heads are coated (paint or powder coat). So, they are effectively 'soft' mounted, meaning there is not metal-to-metal contact. This means that there can still be some 'flex' between the cover and the housing, so it is difficult to quantify how much rigidity a HD cover actually adds.
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Old 07-04-2019, 11:59 AM   #20
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After ripping the lip on my rear OEM diff and leaking a long way from pavement, after researching covers/skids went with a heavy duty aftermarket cover with lube lockers. Feel pretty secure that monster will just take any impacts without losing clearance.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:17 AM   #21
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Most of your travel direction is forward.
A front diff cover and rear skid should cover most situations.

I've got Ruff Stuff covers front & back, and will eventually get a rear skid.
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:45 PM   #22
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Most of your travel direction is forward.
A front diff cover and rear skid should cover most situations.
It depends which rear skid you get. The AEV rear skid stops just forward of the rib in the center section (See picture). This is great for clearance, but it doesn't protect the bottom of the rear cover. So, if you have the AEV skid you'll need a guard or cover. I run mine with a Warn guard and a Lubelocker gasket which has held up really well.

Either way, as someone pointed out earlier, take some time to carefully grind the bottom of your cover and/or guard so there is no 'lip' to catch on anything - you can also see this in my picture.
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:40 PM   #23
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I have mixed thoughts on the diff skid. For years I went without. Sure, I have a lot of rash on the rear diff but no issues to report because of it. I recently installed the Metal Cloak rear diff skid and I felt like I was getting hung up a lot more as a result. My friend who's running the same setup agreed.

I may end up taking it off, but we'll see.

Now, if you have a JL I highly recommend protecting your drain plug and a skid is an easy way to do that.
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Old 07-05-2019, 06:14 PM   #24
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^^I just looked at that Metalcloak skid plate, and I see what you mean. Wow,that thing is huge, and it doesn't even protect the pinion. And the step in the bottom definitely doesn't help it glide over obstacles.
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