Road Armor's New Jeep ZJ Rear
Storing gear in a Jeep Grand Cherokee is really quite simple. Take out the back seats, fold down the backrests, and pull out the spare tire. But wait a minute. Where do you put that spare tire? A simple solution for some people is to just throw the spare on the roof and strap it down. If you're not worried about wind resistance, gas mileage, or don't have a cool LoftyShelter from AutoHome or Hannibal roof top tent, then you're good to go.
If, however, you'd like a little protection in the rear of your Grand Cherokee, better departure angle, and a proper place to store the spare tire, check out the new bumper we picked up from Road Armor for our ZJ. With it's all-steel construction, the bumper features wrap-around sides that match the Grand's body lines, a spare tire carrier with easy-use latch, Class 4 hitch, and a mount bracket for a trailer wiring mount.
The bumper assembly is constructed from 11-gauge sheet steel, with 2-1/2-inch x 2-1/2-inch square tubing for inner support and bumper bracket mounting, and additional 3/16-inch steel plate for strength.
Installation of the Road Armor bumper is simple and can be completed by a shade tree mechanic with minimal skills. It's essentially a bolt-on installation with minimal drilling and very minor sheet metal cutting. The easiest part of the installation is taking off the factory bumper fascia. There are six screws on the underside, top step portion of the fascia. Remove these, push the fascia forward, then pop the forward portion of the wrap-around sides off. Support the fuel tank with a jack, then remove the two rear support bolts on both sides of the tank. This will allow you to remove the factory bumper brackets.
The sheet metal cutting consists of making two small notches in the metal before the bumper bracket opening. Each cut is about a 1/4-inch in depth. Once you have completed the cuts, push the metal down between them so it's flush with the bumper bracket perch.
You must also drill two additional bolt holes, one on each side of the fuel tank. The drilling will take place between the two aft fuel tank bolts. On the new bracket, carefully measure the distance from the center of the forward bolt hole to the center of the middle bolt hole. Then measure and mark this distance on the underside of the frame rails. Be very careful while drilling the new hole on the driver's side; directly above this location is the filler neck hose for the fuel tank. It would be wise to place a piece of wood or metal between the drilling location and the hose.
From here the installation is easy; a pair of extra hands will come in handy. Bolt in the new bumper brackets, have your extra hands hold the bumper in place, and bolt it up with the supplied hardware. The spare tire carrier is already assembled. It's that easy.
If you're going to tow, you'll have to pick up the proper trailer wiring kit. For Grand Cherokees equipped with the factory tow package, the wiring plug-in for trailer lights is in the pop-out panel (interior) just behind the driver's side taillight.
The rear bumper looks great and gets the spare tire out of the vehicle and on the back of the Jeep where it belongs.