You love your Jeep. You’ve been steadily optimizing and customizing it to be the ultimate off-road warrior, while reflecting your own personal taste and style. The more you modify your Jeep, the more unique it is, until it becomes a mechanical reflection of yourself. Your friend, your horse, your rig. One of the easiest ways to really stand out from the crowd, while protecting your best friend is Armoring Up. Like cavalry soldiers armored their steeds before riding into battle, so too should you protect and strengthen critical areas of your Jeep. Even on a Wrangler, paint, suspension and drivetrain components are vulnerable to damage requiring costly repairs. Money spent on off road armor will quickly pay for itself the first time a rock or tree tries to get up in your business.
Traditionally options for armoring your Jeep were fairly limited, mostly bumpers and custom garage-fabbed creations. The last decade however has seen a boom in off-road armor products from dozens of manufacturers. Advances in precision manufacturing processes have allowed companies to produce lightweight, high-quality components at relatively affordable prices. Let’s take a look at just a few of the many options available to protect your investment.
Must Have Protection and Armor for Jeep Wranglers
Bumpers Meant to BUMP
A rugged aftermarket bumper is still the mainstay of the arsenal when it comes to armoring your rig. A quality aftermarket bumper will be much stronger than the original factory bumper, allowing you to plow through obstacles and deflect damaging debris. Most aftermarket off-road bumpers also have a much better approach angle – the angle at which an obstacle (like a boulder) will come into contact with your Jeep’s body or frame. Bumpers from Smittybilt, Body Armor, and Rough Country, for example have a higher, up-swept design, creating a more streamlined, aggressive look. A mean aftermarket bumper is the most effective way to dramatically change your Jeep’s attitude while protecting critical areas of the engine and body.
Also, don’t forget the rear bumper. Although not as prominent as the front, Rear Bumpers are an important part of protecting the body, tailgate, and exhaust system. A good front bumper deserves a compliment on the rear.
Flex Your Jeep’s Abs
One of your Jeep’s most vulnerable and important areas happens to also be the most overlooked – the drivetrain. Hidden from view most of the time, the drivetrain takes the majority of off road abuse from rocks, stumps, Priuses, and whatever else you run over. It quietly pushes you further while getting none of the attention – until something breaks. A drivetrain failure is one of the worst things that can happen to your Jeep while off roading. Depending on the damage, a broken driveshaft, axle, or transfer case can cost hundreds or more to repair, and that’s if you even make it out. Your Jeep came from the factory with a small skid plate below the transmission, and it works great for the average Joe. But that’s not you. You didn’t get a Wrangler because you were average. Fortunately, there are dozens of options for beefing up your Jeep’s tummy. Skid plates for Axle Differentials, oil pan, steering box, and transmission will ensure your warhorse isn’t left on the battlefield. These crucial items will pay for themselves the first time they stop a rock or stump from getting too close and personal.
Become a Body Builder
Body protection is becoming a very popular way to customize and protect Jeeps. No other accessory says “I’m serious” more than Body Armor. Like an exoskeleton, companies like Rugged Ridge, Barricade, and Warrior Products make custom-fitted steel armor to protect headlights, fenders, rockers, and tub rails. These armor plates not only harden the exterior of your Jeep, they showcase your mechanical masterpiece. Rock Sliders, which double as side steps, bolt to your Jeep’s frame and well, slide over rocks that would normally crunch the rocker/door area of the body.
Most body protection pieces are made of strong plate steel or aluminum. Body armor will add weight to your Jeep, so keep that in mind if weight is an issue for you.
Spray it, Don’t Say it
One of the ultimate armor mods is to coat the entire vehicle, paint and all with synthetic spray-on bed liner. Bed Liner was designed to coat pickup truck beds and provide protection from cargo sliding. Off roaders soon discovered that painting their vehicles with bed liner provided great protection from branches and other paint-scuffing debris. Original bed liner came in two colors – black and black. Now however, formulas of spray liner have been developed specifically for body application and come in an array of color options. Keep in mind that covering your Jeep in spray on liner is normally considered permanent, as it is very hard to remove.
Another route some Jeep owners have been going in an effort to protect and customize their rigs is wrapping them in vinyl. This offers less protection than spray-on liner, but is more easily removed and more customizable, with the ability to add your own graphics and designs. Wrapping your Jeep isn’t cheap – it’s about the same price as a new paint job, but it does protect against light scuffs and scratches.
Jeep? Tank? Both.
Think about the terrain where you wheel. Is it muddy, rocky, or brushy? Think about the types of damage you’ll likely incur, and start there. Armoring your Jeep is one of the best investments you can make. If your four wheeling haunts are covered in forests and vegetation, Grille Guards and headlight covers as well as bumpers should be on your short list. Rocky? Desert? Rock sliders and skid plates are your best friends.
Stand out from the mall-crawlers and grocery-getters. The soccer moms and pavement queens. With almost unlimited armor options, it’s possible to virtually cover and protect every area of your Jeep imaginable without breaking the bank. From Turn Signals, to transmissions, there is a precision engineered piece designed to protect it, while making yours the Alpha Jeep – the Jeep others wish they were. Protect your investment and best friend. Mother Nature is unpredictable, so ride into battle prepared to withstand whatever that mean ‘ol bag will throw at you.