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Old 11-29-2011, 01:54 PM
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Differential Cover vs Skid Plates

I searched the site and haven't found much on this subject.

I am trying to understand about differential covers and skid plates. Well at least about differential covers...

If you were going to prioritize buying one of these two, which would it be and why?

Thanks in advance for the knowledge....

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
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Heavy duty Diff covers because the diffs are the lowest part of the underside of jeep and the jeep already has skid plates, albeit relatively weak ones.

Differential covers are just that - they bolt to e axle housing and cover the axle differential (aka - pumpkin) ... That's the bulge in your axle where the ring and pinion (axle gears) are. The stock diff covers are relatively weak.

T

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Old 11-29-2011, 02:24 PM   #3
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Differential covers and skid plates are both forms of "armor." Along with rock sliders, bumpers, etc.

Your jeep came stock with skid plates covering the t-case and gas tank (maybe the transmission too? . . . I can't recall).

Unless you're rock crawling, my understanding is that the stock skids are reasonably good, so I wouldn't replace any of those until you've covered anything else you might want to address. Also, the diffs themselves are fairly tough--remember, you jack your jeep up by them--so unless you really beat on your jeep I'd put those pretty low on the armor priority list. (Though diff covers do look cool, which I think is the real reason they're popular.)

Overall, I'd say put diff covers behind rock sliders, an oil pan skid, and a front skid on the priority list. I've heard more about side impact damage, oil pan damage, and front end damage more than diff cracks. JMO.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:43 PM   #4
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True most people run dif covers for looks, but they are more then just for looks. Its a good idea to have them even if you dont plan an crawling. Say your driving in the woods or tall grass and all the suden you hang up on a stump, odds are its you dif that got hung up. Now lets say your hung up good enough that you have to lock it in to get off of said stump. There is a chance that you could peal the lip of your stock diff cover back enough to brake the seal and cause you to lose your diff fluid. If you dont happen to have any fluid with you and tools to half ass seal your diff back up then your looking at walking out. Now you dlnt have to wory about that stump causing any damage to any thing else under the jeep becouse your difs will keep it from geting that far. And also you would be suprised how often you smack stuff with your difs when you are doing any kind of whelling.
As far as witch ones to get first its a toss up. I went ahead and put a full skid system on my jeep. I did this becouse I smacked my oil pan hard one day and put a little ding in it, and also becouse I like to be able to drag the big belly of my JKU across stuff instead of diging in like the stock "skidz" did. Yes I will be runing diff covers but I didnt see the point of changing them till I brake my axels down to do all the work to them. But If I wasnt going to put a lot of coin into my rig and was only going to do one I would have to say Id go with diff covers. But lets face it I dont know many folks that wheel there jeep and are happy with only doing one mod.
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Old 11-29-2011, 04:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanJKunlimited2012 View Post
I searched the site and haven't found much on this subject.

I am trying to understand about differential covers and skid plates. Well at least about differential covers...

If you were going to prioritize buying one of these two, which would it be and why?

Thanks in advance for the knowledge....
Are you referring to Diff covers v. Diff Skids? If so I imagine a full on cast iron diff cover would be better then a diff skid like what Warrior Products, Rancho and the like sell. Since a diff skid just covers the stock diff cover and uses factory mounting hardware. I think full on diff covers come with their own hardware. Some, i beleive Rancho has one too, have covers that have a skid underneath too.

-Dan
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel_M View Post
Are you referring to Diff covers v. Diff Skids? If so I imagine a full on cast iron diff cover would be better then a diff skid like what Warrior Products, Rancho and the like sell. Since a diff skid just covers the stock diff cover and uses factory mounting hardware. I think full on diff covers come with their own hardware. Some, i beleive Rancho has one too, have covers that have a skid underneath too.

-Dan
Thanks Dan. What I am trying to do is prioritize. I started with a 2.5 lift with performance shocks, some new wheels and tires, 16s with 33s, and some Rock Rails. I am just about to change my breather tubes and am thinking about a snorkel. Where I ride most often includes plenty of water. This means I need to change my differential fluids on a regular basis.

Given all that, I am trying to understand which is the higher risk, off roading with the stock Differential Covers or the stock skid plates.
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:39 PM
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Overall, I'd say put diff covers behind rock sliders, an oil pan skid, and a front skid on the priority list. I've heard more about side impact damage, oil pan damage, and front end damage more than diff cracks. JMO.
I like the way you are thinking. This is just the sort of feedback I am looking for.

When you say front skid, are you talking about replacing the plastic air dam with something that could actually protect that area? Would that require a new front bumper?
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ryanJKunlimited2012

I like the way you are thinking. This is just the sort of feedback I am looking for.

When you say front skid, are you talking about replacing the plastic air dam with something that could actually protect that area? Would that require a new front bumper?
Kinda like the skid the Rubi has
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ryanJKunlimited2012 View Post
When you say front skid, are you talking about replacing the plastic air dam with something that could actually protect that area? Would that require a new front bumper?
"Yes" and "it depends."

As far as I know, these all fit the stock bumper:

Skid Row Offroad JP-5000 - Skid Row Offroad Front Chassis Skid Plates for 07-09 Jeep® Wrangler & Wrangler Unlimited JK - Quadratec

Rugged Ridge 18003.30 - Rugged Ridge Front Skid Plate for 07-12 Jeep® Wrangler & Wrangler Unlimited JK - Quadratec

MOPAR 82210401AB - MOPAR® Jeep® Steering & Sway Bar Skid Plate for 07-12 Jeep®® Wrangler & Wrangler Unlimited JK - Quadratec

There are also of course many aftermarket front skids that are only designed to fit particular aftermarket bumpers.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:33 PM   #10
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My first skid was an evap canister skid, second was rock sliders (rails) third will be the front skid and fourth probably the diff covers.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:20 PM   #11
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Starting with a pair of Ace rails myself, but a front skid is probably next.
That poor old air dam is heading for the island of misfit Jeep stuff next to my original floor mats and the...gulp...mud flaps I bought while giddy with new JK fever.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:25 PM   #12
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At least the front diff cover. The rear isn't as exposed as the front.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:24 PM   #13
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I used both the Skid Row Offread front chasses skid plate and the Rugged Ridge front skid plate on my jeep with the stock bumper and now with my aftermarket bumper. They each protect different parts of the front end.
They are a good combination.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strider_mt2k
That poor old air dam is heading for the island of misfit Jeep stuff next to my original floor mats and the...gulp...mud flaps I bought while giddy with new JK fever.
Haha I love the analogy, along with the silver apliques off my sahara. My wife likes the mud flaps, oye, haha want to sell yours? ;-)
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:33 PM   #15
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I do a lot of wheeling in rocks and have made some upgrades to my armor.

On my first “real” trail I put a hole in my Evap Can, so I epoxied the hole and relocated it - no problems since.

I’ve scratched up my stock skids - they’re still holding up.

I certainly jack up my Jeep on my axles, but NEVER on the actual diff covers - they are too weak. I replaced my front and rear ones with something a little more heavy duty than the stock covers and both the front and rear covers have held up well - I have scrapes on both of them to remind me how they have helped. I didn’t think I would use the rear one at all ,until one day I was backing up and didn’t see that rocks, and…

I found myself constantly scraping my rear shock pods on rocks. I found a good set of skids for them and now I just scrape up the skids - they are holding up well.

I noticed on one trip that I tagged the lower front control arm bracket on the front axle, so I added bolt on skids to the front. I have scars there now, but no damage to the bracket. The skids are holding up well.

I got a metal bumper/winch for the front and figured I should get a skid under the bumper to help protect my e-disco motor. I’ve hit it a few times trying to climb up waterfalls - it’s still holding up fine.

I welded some tubes to my stock Rubicon rock sliders for some added protection. I’ve slid on them a couple of times - not a lot, but they’re holding up fine.

Finally, I have a skid for my oil pan. Everyone needs a skid on their oil pan, right? It’s on there and so far I haven’t hit it at all.

Summary (for me):
Evap Can - required, relocated the Evap Can
Stock skids - required, holding up for me
Diff covers - required, I keep hitting them and they’re hold up well
Rear shock pod skids - required, I keep using them (I think I use them the most)
Front lower control arm skids - required, I don’t hit them a lot, but I do use them
Skid under front bumper - useful, I can be a little more careless and not worry
Slider mod - useful, I can be a little more careless and not worry
Oil Pan - feels good, haven’t used it yet, but one less thing to worry about
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:38 PM   #16
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what did you do for front LCA skids? it seems most of the kits are weld on. i know theres good rear kits, but I've yet to find a bolt on for the front.

although, I also feel like on the front lca's, youd tag the frame mount a ton more than the axle mount. pretty sure i've destroyed a couple rocks with mine. not looking forward to having to remove those bolts....
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Old 11-29-2011, 10:18 PM   #17
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what did you do for front LCA skids? it seems most of the kits are weld on. i know theres good rear kits, but I've yet to find a bolt on for the front.

although, I also feel like on the front lca's, youd tag the frame mount a ton more than the axle mount. pretty sure i've destroyed a couple rocks with mine. not looking forward to having to remove those bolts....
Rancho - shiny new:


Not as shiny new:



Oh, yeah. This pic reminded me that I relocated my steering stabilizer. I barely scratched it once and relocated it and don’t come close to hitting it now.
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Old 11-29-2011, 10:25 PM   #18
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Since this thread started out on diff covers...

Brand shiny new after I painted and installed them (view of the rear):



Now, front:


Rear:
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:39 AM   #19
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I used both the Skid Row Offread front chasses skid plate and the Rugged Ridge front skid plate on my jeep with the stock bumper and now with my aftermarket bumper. They each protect different parts of the front end.
They are a good combination.
Do you have pic of this? I want to see how they work/mount together. Are you happy with the "skid row" advertising? That's a drawback for me.
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:27 AM   #20
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Since this thread started out on diff covers...

Brand shiny new after I painted and installed them (view of the rear):



Now, front:


Rear:
those look great painted, I was just surfing earlier today trying to figure out what paint to use. did you use anything special? what did you do to paint em?
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Old 11-30-2011, 07:55 PM   #21
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those look great painted, I was just surfing earlier today trying to figure out what paint to use. did you use anything special? what did you do to paint em?
Since they were brand new and clean I used two coats of Rustoleum Clean Metal Primer (white), then two coats of Sunrise Red. After it was dry I hand painted the raised portion black.

It’s held up well. No peeling/flaking from heat/bad adhesion - just scraped paint from rocks.
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:19 PM   #22
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oh so it doesn't have to be high temp paint? that makes life easier. looks good
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:30 PM   #23
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oh so it doesn't have to be high temp paint? that makes life easier. looks good
No doesn't have to be high temp paint, and if it starts peel (due to heat) then maybe it would be a warning that you have something wrong with your gears as they are getting too hot?

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