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Thread: What skid plate is better for what the trails usually have? 1/4" aluminum 3/16" steel

  1. #1
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    Default What skid plate is better for what the trails usually have? 1/4" aluminum 3/16" steel

    I have a 2019 sport tacoma. Had no plans initially to take it off road, those plans have changed. I use this truck as my daily so I see the benefit of the aluminum strictly on the weight issue. If I were to get aluminum even though it's the weaker metal would it still hold up on the trails compared to steel? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Steel fir me. it bends and you wont notice the weight
    Last edited by ecgreen; 01-03-2020 at 10:39 AM.
    "I hope you get hit by a goose, right in the sway bar!" -anon

    2015 Tacoma Access 4-banger (aka 'Scratchy') -> 285/75r16 Grabber ATX, FJC wheels, 3" OME 887s/full dakar pack, CBI sliders and full skids, Pelfreybilt Hybrid bumper, ****tybilt 9.5 XRC winch, sway bar go by bye, ARB on-board air, many many zip-tie
    1989 Ford Bronco II (aka 'Babe the Blue Pig') -> 31x10.5r15 Cheap ATs, 1.5" lift (RC coils/shocks and WULF shackles), 2.9l hamster-power, Blue Pig sticker mod

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecgreen View Post
    Steel fir me. it bends and you wont notice the weight
    I was more worried about weight for MPG reasons not the truck being physically heavy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fourwheeling02 View Post
    I was more worried about weight for MPG reasons not the truck being physically heavy
    I can't imagine it would be that much of an issue. Tire size would make much more of a difference MPG-wise. Tyler what do you think?
    "I hope you get hit by a goose, right in the sway bar!" -anon

    2015 Tacoma Access 4-banger (aka 'Scratchy') -> 285/75r16 Grabber ATX, FJC wheels, 3" OME 887s/full dakar pack, CBI sliders and full skids, Pelfreybilt Hybrid bumper, ****tybilt 9.5 XRC winch, sway bar go by bye, ARB on-board air, many many zip-tie
    1989 Ford Bronco II (aka 'Babe the Blue Pig') -> 31x10.5r15 Cheap ATs, 1.5" lift (RC coils/shocks and WULF shackles), 2.9l hamster-power, Blue Pig sticker mod

  5. #5
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    1/4" aluminum will fold like a tin can without a lot of reinforcement.

    I agree with ECGreen. I added front, IFS, Belly and gas tank skids to my tacoma... all steel. I didn't see any noticeable difference in MPG. RS2 and I went aluminum on the Land Cruiser. We used much more reinforcement to prevent bending and we used rivets, where possible, to maintain strength. More thought has to go into building an aluminum skid... especially if you have a long wheel base, low slung vehicle like a 2nd or 3rd gen tacoma. Long story short, I would go steel unless you have the expertise to be sure the aluminum is adequately reinforced for use.
    1996 Landcruiser, 1HD-T Diesel, Gturbo Grunter, Dawes Boost Controller - 23psi, front/rear ARB lockers, ARB rear bumper, Slinky/Icon 3", Wholesale automatics A442f Extreme, 35" Duratracs, home built aluminum belly skid/Sliders, Costa Fabrications Front Bumper, Rigid D2 Low/Hi beam
    1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer - 2" Alcan springs, 10" travel Gabriel shocks, 30" Yokohama AT/S
    2006 Evo 9 - 437hp/447ft-lb

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpskie View Post
    1/4" aluminum will fold like a tin can without a lot of reinforcement.

    I agree with ECGreen. I added front, IFS, Belly and gas tank skids to my tacoma... all steel. I didn't see any noticeable difference in MPG. RS2 and I went aluminum on the Land Cruiser. We used much more reinforcement to prevent bending and we used rivets, where possible, to maintain strength. More thought has to go into building an aluminum skid... especially if you have a long wheel base, low slung vehicle like a 2nd or 3rd gen tacoma. Long story short, I would go steel unless you have the expertise to be sure the aluminum is adequately reinforced for use.
    Thanks for the info. I was looking into buying rci metalworks skidplates and rock sliders but I saw they made aluminum and steel, the aluminium being a few hundred cheaper and weighing less I didnt know what would be better. Would you recommend any other brand of skid plates?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fourwheeling02 View Post
    Thanks for the info. I was looking into buying rci metalworks skidplates and rock sliders but I saw they made aluminum and steel, the aluminium being a few hundred cheaper and weighing less I didnt know what would be better. Would you recommend any other brand of skid plates?
    I built my own skids with a buddy. But, I've heard good things about RCI. When I had my Taco, Budbuilt was considered top quality... heavy and expensive but top quality.
    1996 Landcruiser, 1HD-T Diesel, Gturbo Grunter, Dawes Boost Controller - 23psi, front/rear ARB lockers, ARB rear bumper, Slinky/Icon 3", Wholesale automatics A442f Extreme, 35" Duratracs, home built aluminum belly skid/Sliders, Costa Fabrications Front Bumper, Rigid D2 Low/Hi beam
    1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer - 2" Alcan springs, 10" travel Gabriel shocks, 30" Yokohama AT/S
    2006 Evo 9 - 437hp/447ft-lb

  8. #8
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    This feels..... familiar... maybe its just deja vu.

    First and MOST IMPORTANT is a realistic assessment of intended usage. This will inform ALL OTHER decisions.

    -disclaimer- I have a Nissan Frontier. Similar but not 100% same. Supply chains is different.

    As to your thoughts on weight: My first set of skids were 1/4 AL from HeftyFabworks. Intended to just do easy offroading. 2" lift. Not go crazy.... I wheel the piss out of the Frontier. Front bumper&winch, rear bumper, sliders, skids, 3"lift, 33s, ....
    AL skits are featherlight, but all that weight (or lack of) is distributed across all 4 wheels. Also, you're saving ... 250#? 200#? I forget howmuch Chris (HeftyFab) said their shipping weight of a full skid set for me was. But the weight difference between steel and AL is about 100#. If you are THAT concerned about weight, ditch the spare tire. And the back seats. and the rear bumper. Don't add a winch bumper... (see where we're going?) OH, And don't lift it. Aerodrag will sap mpg FAR GREATER than 100-200# skids. And keep the chin spoiler as you install a lowering kit...

    -Don't sweat the weight. It was a major flaw in my initial thinking!
    I have since replaced the engine skid and gas tank skid for steel. Both were concave (!!!!!) when removed. The radiator skid will be next. transmission&transfer case will probably be ok to stay AL.


    If you want to 'overland' and a slight lift (1") and will only be doing STOCK roads and fire roads then whatever makes you feel good. But likely if you've been bitten, you will want to go hard. 3" lift, 33s, and find teh limits of all the pieces...
    pay the pain only once.
    Yes steel requires more maintenance (rust/paint touchup) but they are sturdy. easier to straighten out. just put some heat into them and whack with a hammer... every mechanic worth their salt can work steel. Not everyone can work AL. (familiarity)

    !!! COST !!! AL skids cost more. They deform easier. If you punish them, they'll require extensive rework. I have an engine skid that more resembles a Skottle... One of these days I may attempt to re-anneal it and flatten it... then try to figure what to do with it...

    BUMPER... This is where you can save some serious weight and it makes some sense to go AL. An AL winch bumper (for nissans) runs about 65# (I installed mine by myself and didn't even throw out my back)... Same winch bumper design, from same fab (Hefty) is 225# or more... now add a winch. Thats alot of weight supported JUST by your front suspension. When coming off a rock or ledge, the nose will bob alot more. Most Nissans will run a 600# spring in front with an AL bumper, and a 7-750# spring for steel. and get the same ride quality.


    I can't stress enough the pain of repairing damage because you went light on an area that sees heavy abuse. AND the pain of re-buying... and the WAIT!!!!! (I'm so jealouse of how easy jeeps have it on parts)

    On nissans, the critical parts is the engine skid, gas tank skid, radiator (in that order) transmission/transfer case need skids but not as bad. Unless you are learning where all your soft bits are located and how to pick a line... then they will see more abuse.

    The only good argument for AL is mounting/removal weight, and rust maintenance. The AL engine skid I could put on with 1 hand, and thread in the bolts with the other. With teh steel, I need the floor jack. and sometimes the bottle jack. just so it doesn't slap me in the head and give me an impromptu nap on the concrete.
    -TYLER - - Illegitimi non carborundum - -
    '14 Nissan Frontier SV 4x4 V6 Auto
    -----3" lift with Nisstec MK84 coilovers & OME leafs, HeftyFab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, WARN Winch & HeftyFab bumper, 32" Duratracs
    '15 Nissan Xterra Pro4X
    -----Heftyfab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, 32" Duratracs

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fourwheeling02 View Post
    Thanks for the info. I was looking into buying rci metalworks skidplates and rock sliders but I saw they made aluminum and steel, the aluminium being a few hundred cheaper and weighing less I didnt know what would be better. Would you recommend any other brand of skid plates?

    Their AL skids are CHEAPER?!

    I had to go look...


    nope, steel is cheaper by $200 (full skid pkg). powder-coat vs powder-coat.

    Aluminum CAN corrode and dissimilar metal corrosion is a bear. Gotta keep 'em separated...
    -TYLER - - Illegitimi non carborundum - -
    '14 Nissan Frontier SV 4x4 V6 Auto
    -----3" lift with Nisstec MK84 coilovers & OME leafs, HeftyFab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, WARN Winch & HeftyFab bumper, 32" Duratracs
    '15 Nissan Xterra Pro4X
    -----Heftyfab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, 32" Duratracs

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtyler11 View Post
    This feels..... familiar... maybe its just deja vu.

    First and MOST IMPORTANT is a realistic assessment of intended usage. This will inform ALL OTHER decisions.

    -disclaimer- I have a Nissan Frontier. Similar but not 100% same. Supply chains is different.

    As to your thoughts on weight: My first set of skids were 1/4 AL from HeftyFabworks. Intended to just do easy offroading. 2" lift. Not go crazy.... I wheel the piss out of the Frontier. Front bumper&winch, rear bumper, sliders, skids, 3"lift, 33s, ....
    AL skits are featherlight, but all that weight (or lack of) is distributed across all 4 wheels. Also, you're saving ... 250#? 200#? I forget howmuch Chris (HeftyFab) said their shipping weight of a full skid set for me was. But the weight difference between steel and AL is about 100#. If you are THAT concerned about weight, ditch the spare tire. And the back seats. and the rear bumper. Don't add a winch bumper... (see where we're going?) OH, And don't lift it. Aerodrag will sap mpg FAR GREATER than 100-200# skids. And keep the chin spoiler as you install a lowering kit...

    -Don't sweat the weight. It was a major flaw in my initial thinking!
    I have since replaced the engine skid and gas tank skid for steel. Both were concave (!!!!!) when removed. The radiator skid will be next. transmission&transfer case will probably be ok to stay AL.


    If you want to 'overland' and a slight lift (1") and will only be doing STOCK roads and fire roads then whatever makes you feel good. But likely if you've been bitten, you will want to go hard. 3" lift, 33s, and find teh limits of all the pieces...
    pay the pain only once.
    Yes steel requires more maintenance (rust/paint touchup) but they are sturdy. easier to straighten out. just put some heat into them and whack with a hammer... every mechanic worth their salt can work steel. Not everyone can work AL. (familiarity)

    !!! COST !!! AL skids cost more. They deform easier. If you punish them, they'll require extensive rework. I have an engine skid that more resembles a Skottle... One of these days I may attempt to re-anneal it and flatten it... then try to figure what to do with it...

    BUMPER... This is where you can save some serious weight and it makes some sense to go AL. An AL winch bumper (for nissans) runs about 65# (I installed mine by myself and didn't even throw out my back)... Same winch bumper design, from same fab (Hefty) is 225# or more... now add a winch. Thats alot of weight supported JUST by your front suspension. When coming off a rock or ledge, the nose will bob alot more. Most Nissans will run a 600# spring in front with an AL bumper, and a 7-750# spring for steel. and get the same ride quality.


    I can't stress enough the pain of repairing damage because you went light on an area that sees heavy abuse. AND the pain of re-buying... and the WAIT!!!!! (I'm so jealouse of how easy jeeps have it on parts)

    On nissans, the critical parts is the engine skid, gas tank skid, radiator (in that order) transmission/transfer case need skids but not as bad. Unless you are learning where all your soft bits are located and how to pick a line... then they will see more abuse.

    The only good argument for AL is mounting/removal weight, and rust maintenance. The AL engine skid I could put on with 1 hand, and thread in the bolts with the other. With teh steel, I need the floor jack. and sometimes the bottle jack. just so it doesn't slap me in the head and give me an impromptu nap on the concrete.
    Holy hell that's a lot of information. Thank you so much for the write up! I knew the weight different wasnt incredibly drastic but didn't know if saving it with the AL would be better on gas. I knew the issues with aluminum cutting and shredding rather than denting and bouncing like steel skids do. I had a feeling steel was going to be the better decision but didnt know if I could get away with the weight difference with the al skids. It's basically a large person sitting in the car at all times in difference I guess right. Thank you again so much for the write up and on the status of bumpers if I upgrade mine I plan on doing the slimline bumper for 3rd gen tacomas. It wont take the entire bumper which will also save the weight. Lift of about 2 or 3 inches is a plan in 2+ years from now, I'm not made of money haha. Thank you again!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtyler11 View Post
    Their AL skids are CHEAPER?!

    I had to go look...


    nope, steel is cheaper by $200 (full skid pkg). powder-coat vs powder-coat.

    Aluminum CAN corrode and dissimilar metal corrosion is a bear. Gotta keep 'em separated...
    Yeah I mistyped, that's my bad

  12. #12
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    Get full steel. The rci ones are nice. I had a full set minus gas tank skid from RCI. They held up nicely to abuse. Weight down low isn't going to effect much. It's when you lift, start strapping hundreds of pounds of useless nonsense to your roof (for the gram, yo...) That you start to drastically effect mpg, handling, etc...

    A full set of steel skids is probably equal to or less than the weight of a average person. Effects would be less than having a fatty riding along in the truck 24/7
    Last edited by Sloth; 01-03-2020 at 01:54 PM.
    98 Landcruiser - luxury offroad yacht
    07 FJ Cruiser -Built for expeditions to daycare and the mall
    11 T4R - Soccer Mom White
    92 toyota pickup - #1 choice of transportation for militants worldwide

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtyler11 View Post
    This feels..... familiar... maybe its just deja vu.

    First and MOST IMPORTANT is a realistic assessment of intended usage. This will inform ALL OTHER decisions.

    -disclaimer- I have a Nissan Frontier. Similar but not 100% same. Supply chains is different.

    As to your thoughts on weight: My first set of skids were 1/4 AL from HeftyFabworks. Intended to just do easy offroading. 2" lift. Not go crazy.... I wheel the piss out of the Frontier. Front bumper&winch, rear bumper, sliders, skids, 3"lift, 33s, ....
    AL skits are featherlight, but all that weight (or lack of) is distributed across all 4 wheels. Also, you're saving ... 250#? 200#? I forget howmuch Chris (HeftyFab) said their shipping weight of a full skid set for me was. But the weight difference between steel and AL is about 100#. If you are THAT concerned about weight, ditch the spare tire. And the back seats. and the rear bumper. Don't add a winch bumper... (see where we're going?) OH, And don't lift it. Aerodrag will sap mpg FAR GREATER than 100-200# skids. And keep the chin spoiler as you install a lowering kit...

    -Don't sweat the weight. It was a major flaw in my initial thinking!
    I have since replaced the engine skid and gas tank skid for steel. Both were concave (!!!!!) when removed. The radiator skid will be next. transmission&transfer case will probably be ok to stay AL.


    If you want to 'overland' and a slight lift (1") and will only be doing STOCK roads and fire roads then whatever makes you feel good. But likely if you've been bitten, you will want to go hard. 3" lift, 33s, and find teh limits of all the pieces...
    pay the pain only once.
    Yes steel requires more maintenance (rust/paint touchup) but they are sturdy. easier to straighten out. just put some heat into them and whack with a hammer... every mechanic worth their salt can work steel. Not everyone can work AL. (familiarity)

    !!! COST !!! AL skids cost more. They deform easier. If you punish them, they'll require extensive rework. I have an engine skid that more resembles a Skottle... One of these days I may attempt to re-anneal it and flatten it... then try to figure what to do with it...

    BUMPER... This is where you can save some serious weight and it makes some sense to go AL. An AL winch bumper (for nissans) runs about 65# (I installed mine by myself and didn't even throw out my back)... Same winch bumper design, from same fab (Hefty) is 225# or more... now add a winch. Thats alot of weight supported JUST by your front suspension. When coming off a rock or ledge, the nose will bob alot more. Most Nissans will run a 600# spring in front with an AL bumper, and a 7-750# spring for steel. and get the same ride quality.


    I can't stress enough the pain of repairing damage because you went light on an area that sees heavy abuse. AND the pain of re-buying... and the WAIT!!!!! (I'm so jealouse of how easy jeeps have it on parts)

    On nissans, the critical parts is the engine skid, gas tank skid, radiator (in that order) transmission/transfer case need skids but not as bad. Unless you are learning where all your soft bits are located and how to pick a line... then they will see more abuse.

    The only good argument for AL is mounting/removal weight, and rust maintenance. The AL engine skid I could put on with 1 hand, and thread in the bolts with the other. With teh steel, I need the floor jack. and sometimes the bottle jack. just so it doesn't slap me in the head and give me an impromptu nap on the concrete.

    Now that is a proper Tyler post. Well done!
    "I hope you get hit by a goose, right in the sway bar!" -anon

    2015 Tacoma Access 4-banger (aka 'Scratchy') -> 285/75r16 Grabber ATX, FJC wheels, 3" OME 887s/full dakar pack, CBI sliders and full skids, Pelfreybilt Hybrid bumper, ****tybilt 9.5 XRC winch, sway bar go by bye, ARB on-board air, many many zip-tie
    1989 Ford Bronco II (aka 'Babe the Blue Pig') -> 31x10.5r15 Cheap ATs, 1.5" lift (RC coils/shocks and WULF shackles), 2.9l hamster-power, Blue Pig sticker mod

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecgreen View Post
    Now that is a proper Tyler post. Well done!
    I left some points out for brevity...
    -TYLER - - Illegitimi non carborundum - -
    '14 Nissan Frontier SV 4x4 V6 Auto
    -----3" lift with Nisstec MK84 coilovers & OME leafs, HeftyFab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, WARN Winch & HeftyFab bumper, 32" Duratracs
    '15 Nissan Xterra Pro4X
    -----Heftyfab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, 32" Duratracs

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fourwheeling02 View Post
    Holy hell that's a lot of information. ...
    yea.... i can get long-winded... and wrapped about the axle.... sorry.... lol

    Always keep in mind when adding things its location and how it mounts. Bumper being classic case.
    One other point i forgot is gvwr. All these fun parts cut into payload. Better springs and brakes help claw some of that back. But frame, axles and physics are hard stops. Solid axles have a seperate rating that is usually easy to find. Frame not so much. And physics is universal. Try a panic lanechange or braking when fully loaded, especially if you have a rtt... as CG gains in height, ....
    -TYLER - - Illegitimi non carborundum - -
    '14 Nissan Frontier SV 4x4 V6 Auto
    -----3" lift with Nisstec MK84 coilovers & OME leafs, HeftyFab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, WARN Winch & HeftyFab bumper, 32" Duratracs
    '15 Nissan Xterra Pro4X
    -----Heftyfab skids & Whiteknuckle sliders, 32" Duratracs

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