It's a tough world out there. Mother Nature can be a cold-hearted mistress, throwing all manner of pain your way that will scar, dent, and mash unsuspecting sheetmetal without mercy. Unless you take the right precautions.
Protective layers of steel, iron, and aluminum can keep the worst damage at bay and prolong the life of your rig. Take advantage of the body armor available to four-wheelers (much of which is listed on the following pages). Show Mother Nature who's boss on the trail.
Well, until she starts throwing stuff like rain, snow, hail, and lightning bolts at you. Then you'll be looking for protection of an entirely different sort. But that's another story.
Putco Boss Bars
Features: Putco's nerf bars come in two lengths: traditional cab length and full length (wheel-to-wheel). The Boss Bars are made from an "oversize" 4-inch-diameter stainless steel tube with a mirror finish and nonskid step pad. These aren't universal kits; instead, they feature customized mounting brackets for each application.
Fits: Fullsize Dodge, Ford, and GM pickups, including extended- and crew-cab body styles; and Hummer H2.
American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) Wrangler TJ Rocker Guards
Features: These guards also include nerf bars that are angled 30 degrees skyward, so you get protection and a step but don't lose ground clearance. They're made of steel, have inside supports and drain holes, and come in black powdercoat. They'll work with a lift kit and most fender flares.
Fits: '97-'06 Jeep Wrangler TJs.
Information: 406/251-2100, www.aev-conversions.com
Warn Rock Sliders
Features: They're constructed of thick steel and have a black powdercoat finish. Some drilling is required to put them on; for the Wrangler and CJ, the steel plate bolts directly to the body, while the tube-style version for the Cherokee uses support brackets that attach to the subframe.
Fits: '94-and-up Jeep Wrangler TJs, '87-'96 YJs, '05 Unlimiteds, '84-'01 Cherokees, and '76-'86 CJ-7s.
Information: 800.543.9276, www.warn.com
Features: Sold as a kit or as separate parts, the TrailArmor series consists of two custom-molded rear corner pieces, two side rocker-panel pieces, and front and rear accent strips. Also available are the Hood Stone Guard and two front corner pieces. TrailArmor is made from Dura-flex diamond-textured thermoplastic and comes in a paintable matte-black finish.
Fits: '97-and-up Jeep Wrangler TJs.
Information: 800/234-8920, 503/283-4335, www.bushwacker.com
Man-A-Fre 4+Plus Rock Sliders
Features: Lower protection comes in the form of a main square tube that runs along the bottom edge of the rocker panel. It's manufactured from 2 1/2x0.2500-inch-thick tubing that is angled and capped at both ends. The bumper tubes are made from 2-inch-diameter, 0.120-inch-wall round tubing, and the grille between the outer round and inner square tube is 1/4-inch plate steel. Plus, there are four reinforced 1/2-inch plate-steel mounting legs on each side which bolt to mounting brackets welded to the framerails. Installation does require welding.
Fits: 60 and 80 Series Toyota Land Cruisers.
Information: 805/578-8712, www.man-a-fre.com
Tech Tubes Wheel-to-Wheel Bars
Features: These 3-inch outside-diameter side steps are designed to extend to a pickup truck's rear wheel for easy access to the bed or toolbox. Bars are made from polished stainless steel and black powdercoated steel finishes with polymer step pads. Tech Tubes also manufactures traditional cab-only step bars.
Fits: Fullsize Dodge, Ford, and GM pickups, including crew-cab and longbed models.
Information: 888/752-8222, www.techtubes.com
4WD Products Rocker Guards
Features: These rounded rockers fit closely to the lower body tub and are constructed of 3/16-inch steel. The rounded edge allows them to slide over and around obstacles with ease. Stainless steel hardware is included, and they come finished in black powdercoat.
Fits: Jeep CJ-7s, '87-'95 Wrangler YJs, and '97-and-up Wrangler TJs.
Information: 714/556-5661, www.4wdproducts.com
OR-Fab Rock Protection
Features: OR-Fab offers rocker panel protection with or without integral Rock Rails. The steel products are available with a gloss-black powdercoat finish.
Fits: Jeep TJ (both standard and Unlimited models).
Information: 928/636-7080, www.performanceaccessories.com
Design Automotive Group Back Country Tube Steps
Features: These 3-inch step/nerf bars are available in traditional cab-size or wheel-to-wheel lengths. Aircraft-quality 304 stainless forms the basis for the polished tubes, while mild steel is used under the black powdercoat finish. The tubes are CAD-engineered and application-specific, and they mount to existing frame holes.
Fits: Most pickups and SUVs; contact company for specific fitment information.
Information: 800/323-6147, www.designautogroup.com
Features: These are designed to protect your rocker panels. The Skidz pretty much sandwich the frame with dual 3/8-inch-thick mounting plate, and 3/8-inch bracket plates are said to distribute the load of bashing vertically across the frame for added strength. No drilling is required for installation. Several versions are available, including body lift and nonstep styles.
Fits: All Wranglers, including the Unlimited.
Information: 866/523-1776, www.jeeperman.com
Rubicon Express Rubicon Rocker Guards
Features: These are made from 3/16-inch, seven-gauge steel and are rounded at the edge for both bottom and side protection. Stainless steel, button-head screws come with the kit, and some drilling will be required. The guards arrive in a black powdercoat finish.
Fits: Jeep Wrangler YJs, TJs, and Rubicons.
Information: 877/367-7824, www.rubiconexpress.com
Smittybilt Rock Crawler Series Rocker Guards
Features: Smitty's SRC series of Jeep armor includes front and rear bumpers, a tire carrier, a roof rack system, side armor, and the rocker guards shown here. The guards are made from 2-inch by 0.120 powdercoat steel tube and are available in textured black and titanium finishes. Custom mount brackets are 1/4 inch thick.
Fits: '87-'95 and '97-'05 Jeep Wrangler.
Information: 888/717-5797, www.gosmitty.com
Stinger Off-Road Gear Rocker Bars
Features: Stinger is a new line of Jeep-oriented products that includes front and rear bumpers, a rear tire carrier, and these rocker bars. Made from 0.120-inch-wall tubular steel, the bars are fully welded, bolt to the frame, include a nonskid step bar, and are finished in black powdercoat.
Fits: Jeep TJ.
Information: 877/948-6637, www.smacorp.com
ARB 4x4 Accessories Bull Bars
Features: These beefy bars are constructed of cold-rolled steel that's been MIG-welded. Mount systems are vehicle specific (no universal fitments here) and are also airbag compatible. Some models accommodate winch mounting.
Fits: Dodge Ram; Ford Super Duty; Isuzu Trooper, Rodeo; Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Wrangler; Land Rover Defender, Discovery, Range Rover; Mitsubishi Montero; Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra; Toyota 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Tacoma, Tundra.
Information: 206/264-1669, www.arbusa.com
Offroad Design Front Winch Bumper
Features: It's built with DOM tubing and offers winch and light mounts, tow points, and full-on fender protection. If you're interested in blinker mounts, they're optional for vehicles without grille-mounted blinkers. Extra bracing and gussets are added to ensure solid winching, but without excess weight.Fits: '73-'87 fullsize GM trucks.
Information: 970/945-7777, www.offroaddesign.com
SMA Brush Guard
Features: Among SMA's extensive product offerings for the Hummer H2 is this black powdercoat brushguard, made from 0.120-wall steel tubing. (The guard is also available in plain steel for custom paint applications.) The guard can be purchased by itself or with valance kits for use with either OE or aftermarket off-road lights.
Fits: Hummer H2.
Information: 877/9-HUMMER, www.smahummer.com
Trail Tough Products Double Tough bumpers
Features: They utilize 0.145-wall-thickness tubing and were blueprinted with an eye toward approach and departure angles. They have a 90-degree radius turn in the design that stops rock rash on the corner of the body tub. The factory lighting is used, and it can be run in conjunction with most shackle-reversal kits. Other highlights include a jerry-can swing-away carrier and a license-plate mounting area. They are finished in a black powdercoat.
Fits: Suzuki Samurais.
Information: 877/789.8547, www.trailtough.com
Fabtech Motorsports Desert Guard
Features: The one-piece, welded, 1 3/4-inch-tube Desert Guard adds protection to the front end. It has two auxiliary light mounting tabs in the main tube for a solid mount of off-road lights, and heavy-duty brackets bolt to the stock tow-hook locations for a quickie install. It comes without a skidplate and is available in black, blue, or raw steel for paint-matching.
Fits: '99-'03 Ford Super Dutys and Excursions.Information: 909/597-7800, www.fabtechmotorsports.com
Poison Spyder Customs Brawler Front Bumper
Features: The Brawler Series is made from high-pressure plate steel, and D-shackle and winch mounts are built into every front model; you can also add off-road lights. The bumper is a direct bolt-on and comes in black powdercoat. The Cherokee version has steering-box and frame supports.
Fits: Jeep Wrangler YJs, TJs, and Unlimiteds, Cherokee XJs and CJ-5, -6, -7, and -8 models.Information: 303/777-4820, www.poisonspyder.com
4Wheelers Supply & Off-Road Center Custom Front Bumper
Features: 4Wheelers Supply makes its bumpers from stout 3/16-inch steel. The bumpers include a mount platform for a Warn winch and tabs for D-ring shackles.
Information: 602/273-7195, www.4wheelers.com
J & J Enterprises Drop Rear Bumper
Features: This is a dress-up and protective item with a unique feature: The rear stainless steel panels are replaceable. So if one side is damaged, you only have to replace that side, not the whole bumper.
Fits: Fullsize domestic pickups.
Information: 800/367-4961, www.j-jent.com
Asaf Metal Truck USA Aluminum Bull Bar
Features: Unlike other bars in this guide, the Asaf bar is made from anodized aluminum for light weight. Clear or black anodized finishes are available, and the bar's installation does not require drilling.
Fits: Ford F-150.
Information: 702/564-1705, www.asafmetal.com
Trailready Winch bumper
Features: This bumper weighs only 155 pounds but it's built to handle potent winches. It's constructed of 1/4- and 3/16-inch steel, and shackle mounts and light openings are some of the perks. The bumper is ready to be bolted right in, whether your truck has a lift or not.
Fits: Many Dodge, Ford, GM, and Jeep vehicles.
Information: 425/353-6776, www.trailready.com
Features: Force grilleguards are made from 304 stainless steel that is highly polished to a mirror finish. Even the welds are polished for a bright appearance. The headlight grilles can be removed to ease light cleaning. Each application is custom fit, and the guards mount to the frame, not just to the bumper.
Fits: Dodge Dakota, Durango, Ram; Ford Explorer, Expedition, Excursion, F-150/250, Super Duty; GM Avalanche, Colorado/Canyon, Silverado/Sierra, Tahoe/Yukon, TrailBlazer; Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Information: 714/375-9870, www.forceautomotive.com
Romik Bull Bar
Features: Romik's armor accessories include bull bars, grilleguards, and side steps, all made from aircraft-quality stainless steel that is hand-polished to a chromelike finish. Hidden welds are used for a smooth appearance. Product distribution is scheduled to begin in early 2005.
Fits: Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee; Kia Sorento; Land Rover Discovery, Freelander; Mitsubishi Montero, Montero Sport; Nissan Frontier; Toyota 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Tacoma.
Information: 610/395-5540, www.romik-usa.com
Go Industries Rancher Grille Guard
Features: The Rancher guard is designed to truly protect your truck's grille and headlights. It's constructed from sturdy 1.9-inch, 14-gauge steel tubing and 1/4-inch steel uprights, and the centersection is 16-gauge steel with 1/2-inch punched holes. Plus, there's a step plate built into the guard for easy access to the engine bay. Guards are finished in black powdercoat and mount to existing frame holes, so no drilling is necessary.
Fits: Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500; Ford Excursion, F-150, Super Duty; GM 1500/2500 HD/3500 pickups, Tahoe/Yukon, Suburban/Yukon XL.
Information: 800/527-4345, www.goindustries.com
Skid Row Automotive Night Crawler bumpers
Features: These are all-steel bumpers that are available modularly: You can have just the centersection, the center with the uprights, or the center, uprights, and end pieces. This prototype photographed at the SEMA Show has red uprights to illustrate the bumper's construction; production versions will be all black. The bumpers earn their name thanks to small, built-in lights to illuminate the trail during night 'wheeling. The front bumper has two lights at the ends, while the rear has four. The Night Crawlers should be available during the first quarter of 2005. Other products in Skid Row's line include skidplates and rocker guards.
Fits: Jeep TJ and Cherokee.
Information: 800/786-9249, www.skidplates.com
Buckstop Truckware Buckstop winch bumper
Features: Has a removable grilleguard, OEM-type tow hooks, a winch mount, 6-inch recessed light buckets, and a hitch receiver. On top is a cover door that protects the winch from the elements, and the bumper is predrilled for face- or floor-mount winch applications. It's built from 1/4- and 3/16-inch steel and is fully welded on the inside and out.
Fits: '82-'05 Chevy/GMC, '92-'05 Ford F-150 to F-550, and '89-'05 Dodge trucks.
Information: 800/431-6978, www.buckstop.biz
Road Armor Matrix Series
Features: The Matrix has recessed light mounts for PIAA 510s and 1100s and a mount for up to a 9,500-pound-capacity winch. There are solid-steel 7/8-inch shackle mounts and an integrated steering-box skidplate. The rear bumpers have a notable departure angle and are coupled with fully wrapped quarter panels. Options include an integrated receiver hitch; mounts for the spare tire, a Hi-Lift, and a fuel can; and Stinger Guard to prevent endos.
Fits: Jeep Wrangler TJs, XJs, and YJs (with ZJ and WJ arriving soon).
Information: 425/328-7194, www.roadarmor.com
Manik Front Bar
Features: Manik tubular accessories (including the Front Bar pictured, side steps, taillight guards, and more) are made from cold-rolled steel and available in polished or black finishes.
Fits: Most import and domestic pickups and SUVs.
Information: 323/869-2299, www.manik.com
Luverne Truck Equipment XX Bar Grille Guard
Features: Built along the same lines as Luverne's grilleguard for military Humvees, the XX guard is made from 3/8 x 2 x 1 1/2-inch heavy-duty flat-bar steel with seven-gauge steel uprights. The guard is coated in LuverneArmor, which the company says is four to five times thicker than traditional powdercoat paint finishes. The grilleguard mounts with no drilling or other front-end modification, using 1/4-inch steel mount brackets.
Fits: Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500; Ford Excursion and Super Duty F-250/350; GM Silverado/Sierra 2500 HD/3500.
Information: 605/582-7200, www.luvernetruck.com
Westin Automotive Sportsman One-Piece GrilleGuard
Features: The Sportsman grilleguard is just one of many body armor products from Westin. These guards are designed with 2 1/2-inch cross-tubes that follow the contour of the truck's front end for a customized look. There's 1 1/2-inch tubing in the grille and headlamp areas and a welded 1 1/4-inch hood guard, and most guards come predrilled with holes to accommodate auxiliary lights. The guards are finished in black powdercoat.
Fits: Dodge Dakota, Durango, Ram; Ford Excursion, Expedition, Explorer, F-150/250/350/450/550; GM fullsize and compact pickups and SUVs; Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty; Nissan Armada, Frontier, Titan, Pathfinder, Xterra; Toyota 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Tacoma, Tundra.
Information: 800/345-8476, www.westinautomotive.com
Warrior Products Knight Guard Step
Features: Warrior Products has developed a hoop-style step that attaches to its Knight Guard nerf bar or any other 3-inch nerf or side-step bar to ease access to your Jeep. The Warrior Knight Guard bars have slots to accommodate the step mount; holes will need to be drilled into other bars. The steps are available in either 3- or 6-inch drops.
Fits: Any 3-inch side/nerf bar.
Information: 503/691-8915, www.warriorproducts.com
Rock-It Parts by Turbo City Steering-box plate
Features: Keeps your steering box safe and sound during rockcrawling and other outdoor activities. The plate is made from 0.125-inch steel with a powdercoat for durability. It goes into place using existing bolts.
Fits: '97-and-up Jeep Wrangler TJs.
Information: 714/639-4933, www.turbocity.com
Rusty's Off-Road Products Engine/tranny skidplate
Features: This skidplate is designed to protect the engine oil pan, transmission, and exhaust, and it's a bolt-on, no-drilling deal. It will fit whether there's a lift kit or not, and won't interfere with the driveshaft. Mounting brackets are available for stock or long-arm lift kits. Those mounting brackets are zinc-plated, and the skidplate is black powdercoated. An oil drain-plug hole is cut into the center.
Fits: '04-'05 Jeep Wrangler Rubicons and Unlimiteds.
Information: 256/442-0607, www.rustysoffroad.com
Superlift eXtreme Ring differential protector
Features: This laser-cut 3/16-inch steel plate covers the low-hanging diff cover, which can get bashed or peeled away from the housing, which could cause a leak. The Ring reinforces the seal area and offers frontal protection too, and it's coated in a gold-zinc finish and has stainless steel hardware.
Fits: Dana 30, 44, 50, 60, and 10-, 12-, and 14-bolt axles, as well as most late-model Ford, Dodge, Chevy, and Jeep applications.
Information: 800/551-4955, www.superlift.com
Outland by Smittybilt Black Chrome Stainless taillight guards
Features: These guards are just one of the products Outland offers in its new black chrome finish. (Others include windshield, hood and door hinges, exterior mirrors, and gas caps.) The guards are made from 304 stainless steel, polished and then dipped in the distinctive dark chrome. Mounting hardware is also made from 304 stainless steel.
Fits: '87-'95 and '97-'05 Jeep Wrangler.
Information: 888/717-5797, www.gosmitty.com