Easy Bolt-On JK Body Armor and Trail Security

Easy to install bumpers, sliders, and a winch for our 2016 JK Rubicon Unlimited

Stuart A. BourdonWriterJDPhotographer

Since the last time you read about our ’16 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Rubicon, we’ve been busy wrenching away, and added a few more goodies to the already more than capable rig.

In the first part of the build, we walked you through the suspension lift, tires, wheels, and spare tire carrier. If you recall, we decided to go with the Rubicon Express 4.5 Super-Flex Short Arm kit for the suspension lift. For tires, we were lucky enough to get our hands on Nitto’s brand-new Ridge Grapplers. And last, but certainly not least, we opted for the TeraFlex HD Hinged Carrier with Adjustable Spare Tire Mounting Kit for the JK to lug around the large spare 37-inch Nitto.

Next Steps

As we moved on to the next stage of our build, we tackled bumpers, sliders, and a winch. The bumper category is extraordinarily complex in the Jeep market, especially for the JK. So this decision took us a little longer than initially expected. When choosing bumpers for your rig, jpmagazine.com has lots of great stories to help you navigate these waters. We wanted something that was tough, not too heavy, and would accommodate the Warn ZEON Platinum10-S winch with synthetic line we were looking at. Most of all, we wanted a direct bolt on without requiring any fabricating.

Typically, you’ll find three general types of bumper widths: wide will cover you from outer fender to fender on the JK, a mid-style will give you a great amount of overall protection with a clean look, and finally, you have the Stubby bumper. The stubby width varies from manufacturer as well, and you can find something narrow that goes from frame rail to frame rail with the bare minimum of front protection, which is great when rock crawling, but it also has very little protection from trees and other obstacles you may encounter while on the trail. When we were doing our research on different bumper manufactures and the many styles, we found that we really liked the style and features of the Paramount Automotive JK Off-road front bumper with LEDs. It was in-between a Stubby and Mid-width bumper, manufactured from durable 5/32-inch steel and 2-3/8-inch by 0.120-inch tubing, its D-rings and mounts are rated at a 4 3/4-ton capacity, and it features a built-in winch plate that will mount up to a 12,000-pound capacity winch.

The rear bumper was a pretty easy choice after finding the front bumper, as we liked the matching Paramount Automotive JK Heavy Duty Rock Crawler Rear Bumper with LEDs. One of the first things you may want to ask yourself when considering a new rear bumper is whether or not you prefer the bumper mounted tire carrier, or if you would like a system that retains the mount on the rear gate. Both options have their benefits, but we were already planning to use the TeraFlex JK HD hinged carrier with adjustable mount, to accommodate different tires sizes, because we liked the factory look and simplicity of the unit. If you opt to go with a built-in carrier, Paramount has this same bumper with that option as well.

Rock Ride

When deciding on what style and manufacturer of sliders to replace the stock Rubicon sliders, we wanted to stay true to our initial game plan of finding product that bolts on and doesn’t require any major drilling, cutting, or welding. We checked out what ssemed like haundreds of JK sliders and found the Rock Hard 4X4 Patriot Series Tube Sliders were a perfect match for the amount of protection we were after, as well as being a direct bolt-on unit.

Installing the sliders in the driveway was much easier than expected and took us less than two hours from beginning to end. The factory sliders are fairly stout and will definitely help against minor rock damage, but I wouldn’t want to come down hard on them as you’ll most likely get a little body damage.

Warn Winder

Now that we have the lift, tires, wheels, bumpers, sliders and spare-tire carrier all sorted out, it’s time for the last but one of the most important items for a any Jeep: trail security in the way of a winch. When deciding on a winch, there are quite a few options from each manufacturer: permanent magnet (PM) or series wound (SW) motor; electric or hydraulic; and steel cable or synthetic line. Be sure to do your homework and get the right one for your rig and needs.

A good rule of thumb to help choose the appropriate weight capacity of the winch you’re considering for your vehicle is to know the curb weight of your rig and then multiplying that by 1 1/2 to get a weight-capacity number. Always purchase a winch that exceeds that estimated capacity number. The ’16 Rubicon has a curb weight of 4,315 pounds, so by multiplying that by 1.5 takes us to 6,472 pounds. We could have gone with an 8,000-pound capacity winch, but we wanted to power to rescue not only our Jeep but also any vehicle on the trail with us that weighs even more. The Warn Zeon Platinum 10-S, which has a 10,000-pound capacity rating, was the winch that met our needs.

The complete Warn Platinum install took us a little under two hours. Deciding exactly where the route the electrical wiring was probably the most time consuming part of the entire install, and it’s really a matter of preference. We opted to go under the grille rather than through it, and the rest was a breeze. Jp pro tip: When bolting the power cables to the JK battery terminals, be certain to use the accessory bolts instead of the main fasteners, as they have a nut that is cone shaped on the bottom that is required to be a direct mount to ensure the cables stay tight. If your cables are loose, the warning and sway bar lights will flicker.

We’re finished, for now, with upgrades to our ’16 Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The addition of the bumpers, rock sliders, and winch added to the previous suspension and tire upgrades to create a trail rig that will continue to handle great on the road and perform even better when the pavement ends. Best of all, if sometime down the trail we decide to make some changes, we haven’t butchered the chassis or body, making it difficult or impossible to try something new.

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