Inevitably, at some point during your time spent off road, you are going to go too big, slam into rocks, or run out of skill during a tricky section of trail that is most likely going to tear up your truck. Even though chicks dig scars, none of us wants to bash the front end of our truck or cave in a side panel. Over the past year, our project Toyota FJ Cruiser has been sporting a few goods that have saved permanent damage on several occasions.
For over a decade, DeMello Off-Road has been in the Toyota protection business, being well known for not only creating solid products but doing more than its fair share of testing the products to their limits. Our FJ received their front bumper, rock sliders, and rear bumper over a year ago. All three products have worked without flaw. Their bumper is offered in single-hoop, three-hoop and flat-top styles. We chose the single-hoop design to keep flying objects from bashing into the grille. Every bumper is 100-percent bolt-on using a 1/8-inch steel plate skin and 1/4-inch steel frame, keeping them strong and also light in weight. The winch location has been built to perfectly suit a Warn M8000 winch. If you don’t have an M8000, the bumper can hold any non-integrated winch up to 12,000-pound capacity. Both corners are made to fit 3-inch ACRO HID 55-watt lights. We setup our front bumper with a 20-inch Rose Racing LED light bar and RR 5x5-watt corner lights. Considering we spend more time flying through the desert in our FJ than crawling through rocks, a winch has not yet become necessary, and therefore has remained off for now. The front bumper also offers two strong recovery points on either side.
The bumper matches the lines of our FJ perfectly. Some of you are probably wondering, where did the windshield wiper reservoir go? We installed an Expedition One reservoir relocation kit, which is located under the hood. With the large bottle removed, we now have a ton of clearance.
With a nice strong bumper up front, the stock thin sheetmetal skidplate needed to go. Our new skidplate from Bud Built is made from 3/16-inch-thick laser-cut steel and is CNC press-brake formed. It bolts directly into existing locations with no welding or fabrication required. The rolled corners assure the plate will not get hung up on rocks and the angle complements our bumper’s approach angle. We have bashed this beauty into some rocks and tree stumps, and as you can see, it still looks and works great.
Our DeMello FJ rear wraparound bumper is also completely bolt-on made from 3/16-inch steel. Much like the front, it offers a very high clearance, which is great for departure angles. Each corner is ready to accept the same ACRO HID lights as the front and both of the OE backup sensors are retained. With our rear door open, the center flat surface of the bumper provides a solid step to gain access to the roof rack or to sit on during a lunch break. The bumper is designed in three pieces to match up with the lines of your truck. You can choose to keep your rear mudflaps as we did or remove them.
Located center mast between a pair of recovery points is the new trailer hitch. It uses the same mounts as the OE tow package and provides the same tow capacity.
As you can see, our DeMello round-tube rock sliders have saved our skin on more than one occasion. During a recent trip to Big Bear, we had to use them to slide down a tricky rock section or else we would have been stuck with no winch. The sliders are made from 1¾3/4-inch, 0.120-wall tube steel and are available in bolt-on and weld-on versions. They stick out just enough to protect the truck and use as a step without being so wide they get hung up on passing trees and rocks. DeMello now offers Hybrid Kick Out Sliders and Hybrid Sliders, which you can see on the company’s website. All three of our DeMello products are also available for Toyota 4Runner and Tacoma models.
With the new rear bumper in place we noticed how horribly low our stock tailpipe was hanging down waiting to be crushed by the next rock we climbed over. All-Pro Off-Road makes this simple yet effective high-clearance tailpipe that tucks up perfectly behind our bumper out of harm’s way. The pipe is made from 439 stainless steel, bolts on after the muffler, uses OE hangers, adds ground clearance and increases the exhaust-pipe diameter from 2.5 to 3.0 inches, adding a deep tone to the exhaust.