Going on an off-road adventure to a remote spot that’s untouched by nature is my idea of fun. This fun, however, comes at a price of getting stranded with no help for miles around. Nobody wants to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with a punctured fuel tank or gearbox. Being struck by a rock, stump, or even some roadkill under your 4WD can completely ruin an off-road trip, and that’s why protecting your vital driveline components with underbody protection is extremely important for all off-road enthusiasts.
With modern 4WD suspension moving towards a lower driving platform to provide for better on-road handling and more stable off-roading, the issue of underbody protection becomes increasingly important. Having a lower vehicle makes all the suspension and driveline components more vulnerable to damage, and even though most factory 4WD’s come with a basic underbody guard, it certainly won’t provide adequate protection in off-road scenarios.
To give you a better understanding of underbody guards, here’s an overview of the different types of underbody guards available to help you make the best decision about what you should be protecting under your 4WD.
As the name, radiator guards protect both the front of the vehicle and the essential cooling components such as the radiator and intercooler from possible damage.
Vehicle specific steering guards are offered where vehicles have the steering rack and tie rods in a vulnerable area that can be damaged by frontal impact. Oftentimes, steering guards are integrated into radiator guards.
Sump guards protect the most vital area of a vehicle’s engine, and substantially reduce any sump damage and oil loss, where even a small oil leak can result in expensive engine damage.
Transfer Case & Gearbox Skid Plates
The transfer case is typically the lowest section of the driveline and is therefore very vulnerable to damage in ramp-over scenarios. It’s strongly advised that all off-road vehicles have some sort of transfer case protection. Although less susceptible to damage than the transfer case, the gearbox can easily suffer expensive damage from rocks and other obstacles. Furthermore, automatic transmissions contain oil pans and hydraulic lines that must be protected simply because of their size and location. Gearbox skid plates are installed beneath the transmission.
Front Skid Plates
4WD vehicles are typically designed to enable the vehicle to slide or climb an obstacle without damaging the steering or suspension. Front skid plates protect the steering and suspension components (tie rod, drag link, panhards) that are located between the differential and bumper.
Fuel Tank Guards
Most factory fuel tanks have basic skins installed, although it’s recommended that you either upgrade to a high quality, long range tank or add an aftermarket tank protection plate at a minimum.
What should I be looking for in Underbody Protection?
You certainly don’t want to purchase any type of underbody protection for your vehicle. Search around for underbody protection that integrates with your vehicle’s design and driveline components. Ideally, protection plates should have carefully positioned holes to allow for the correct air flow, access for servicing and changing fluids, and allowing mud, dirt, and debris to be easily cleaned. In addition to this, any bolts that are used to mount underbody protection to your vehicle should be recessed or have protection rings to ensure they can be easily removed during use.
What type of Underbody Protection should I buy?
While the underbody components of your vehicle may be ‘out of sight’, they certainly shouldn’t be considered ‘out of mind’ as protecting the vital driveline components of your vehicle may be the difference between getting home safely and getting stranded in isolation. There are many vital components located underneath your vehicle, so it’s strongly advised that you have aftermarket underbody protection that integrates with your vehicle and your driving needs.
In designing and manufacturing high quality Underbody Guards for over 15 years, TJM certainly knows what’s best. All TJM Underbody Guards are constructed from 3mm thick steel and finished with superior powder coating for ultimate performance and durability. Specially designed, pressed and folded to supply the optimum strength and performance, you can be sure that the TJM Front Underbody Guard, Transmission Guard, Sump Guard, and Transfer Case Skid Plate range will take the brunt of any hazard, ensuring the vital components of your vehicle are fully protected.