How to Install Jeep Gladiator Rock Rails from Rock Hard 4x4

    Fitting Patriot Series tubular rock sliders on the Jeep JT

    If ever there was a Jeep in dire need of rocker protection in the form of rock sliders from a company like Rock Hard 4x4, the '20 Jeep Gladiator is it. The Jeep JT has a larger and more vulnerable rocker area than any enthusiast Jeep produced in decades. At a distance of nearly 94 inches from wheelwell to wheelwell, the Gladiator has more body rocker length than the wheelbase of a TJ Wrangler, and understandably so. The 137.3-inch wheelbase on the Gladiator rivals most modern 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton pickups.

    As with any 4x4 used off-road, one of the first modifications we recommend is rocker protection. The rocker area under the doors of a 4x4 is generally the first location to receive body damage when not protected with rock sliders or some other rocker defense. Rocker protection comes in many forms. Which type is right for you will depend on your planned use.

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    We plan to use our Gladiator on mild off-road excursions and overlanding with some very limited low-range rockcrawling, so we needed more rocker protection than what is provided by traditional side steps and body-mounted rock sliders. After scouring the aftermarket, we found that the Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot Series rocker guards with the angled-up tube slider would fit our needs and protect our Jeep best. They feature a 2x3-inch main tube structure as well as a round tubular side structure for extra protection. We don't plan to drag these rocker guards over boulders, but it's nice to know they are durable enough to allow it if we ever need to. That's something we wouldn't recommend with factory side steps or even the OE Rubicon rocker guards. Read on to see why we chose the Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot sliders and how they mount up.

    The rocker area is usually the first place an unprotected 4x4 gets body damage. It's also one of the most expensive areas to repair. The good news is that adding rocker guards is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to protect the area. And at about 94 inches, there is a lot of vulnerable rocker area to protect on the Jeep Gladiator.
    Our Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot Series rock sliders with the angled-up tube came meticulously boxed up and protected for shipping. The textured black powdercoating was completely intact. All necessary hardware and installation instructions are included. There is even a YouTube installation video link on the box to help answer any install questions.
    Much like the JK and JL rocker areas, the JT is curved here as well. A completely straight rock slider main tube would leave ugly gaps between the body and rocker guard at either end. The Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot Series tube sliders feature a curved steel 2x3-inch, 0.120-wall main tube to match the Gladiator body lines and a 1 3/4-inch, 0.120-wall slider/step for extra protection and ease of entry.
    The Patriot rock sliders are 100 percent bolt-on. They mount to 12 existing factory mounting holes on the body seams and on the underside of the Gladiator body tub. For even more rocker rigidity, they also tap into three body cab mounts on each side.
    The factory holes in the stamped body seams won't always line up with the mounting studs on the rocker guards. We had to drill a few of our factory mounting holes to 3/8 inch to accommodate the new rocker protection.
    Remove the body bolts and have a buddy help you lift the Patriot rock sliders into place so they can be bolted up. If you are careful and take your time it can be done by one person. You could also hoist the sliders into place with a pair of jackstands or a floor jack, as shown.
    We used a rubber mallet to make sure the rock sliders were fully seated in place. Loosely install all of the mounting hardware along with the sandwich plates on the body seams. Once all of the hardware is in place, start by tightening the body seam nuts first. This will pull the rocker guards into the proper position before you snug down the remaining hardware.
    We prefer the angled-up side tubes because they increase ground clearance and provide more door protection from rocks and runaway shopping carts. A version of the Patriot rock sliders with angled-down round tubes is available for those who want more prominent steps.
    There are downsides to the extra protection provided by the angled-up slider tubes. They don't work great as steps, and they collect dirt and water that will get your pant legs dirty when you get in and out if you aren't careful, but it's a small price to pay.