DIY Gas Tank Skidplate

On the Skids

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

Many companies make armor for the Toyota Tacoma, but despite the model’s popularity, we have been surprised at the lack of gas tank skidplate options for our 1996 trail Tacoma. And if your 4x4 isn’t a Wrangler or CJ, chances are your options may be limited as well. So when we set out to build a fuel tank skidplate for our Toyota, we figured we’d document the process. In our case, the side-mounted tank on the Toyota pickup and 4Runner is the lowest-hanging component on the undercarriage, and its position in front of the driver-rear tire means that the gas tank often encounters obstacles before the tire does. We know because we have smashed plenty of gas tanks in the past.

Like many 4x4 trucks, our Tacoma had a factory skid formed to fit around the fuel tank, providing all the necessary mounting locations, but it is made out of thin sheetmetal. In an effort to keep from repeating past tank bashings, we reinforced the factory gas tank skidplate. We simply used the factory skid as a template and cut out 1/8-inch steel with our Miller Spectrum 375 plasma cutter and then welded the thicker material to the factory skid. This entire process was done in an afternoon, which is less time than it takes to swap out a damaged gas tank—not to mentioning being less expensive than sourcing a new tank. That’s what we call a win-win.