Rancho Jeep Wrangler Trail Protection and Rear Bumper Tire Carrier
Sometime during the 1950s, a small company in Long Beach, California, was born that manufactured and sold aftermarket Jeep products that would revolutionize and advance off-road performance forever. Since those evolving years in the ‘50s, Rancho Jeep Supply has simply become the household name of Rancho, which is now owned by Tenneco Inc.
For years, many of us off-road enthusiast only thought of Rancho as the company that developed the legendary Rancho 5000 shocks absorber; however, Rancho has had their hands in just about every 4x4 produced on the planet for the last 60 years.
We recently went in search of some new body and chassis armor for our 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and 2010 Jeep Wrangler Sport. Interestingly enough, we started by speaking with several representatives from companies that had been in business for less than five years. We were impressed with many of the products that were shown to us, but we ultimately decided that our knowledgeable Jeep friends at Rancho would be chosen for our latest Jeep project. After all, in their beginnings, Jeeps were their specialty. Rancho quickly sent us skid plating for our front lower control arm mounts and the PentaStar’s oil pan. In addition, Rancho also hooked us up with their super tough Dana 44 differential covers.
While bomb proofing our chassis, our body needed some protection as well, and Rancho’s new hardcore rocker guards were installed to fend off the largest of rocks. Last but not least, Rancho’s new and improved rear bumper and tire carrier was installed to accept our 37” spare tire. We bombarded our new Jeep with so many Rancho parts that it was decided that we will focus on Rancho’s body pieces in this story and then review our experience with the chassis armor next month.
Rancho’s rocker guards are exactly what we were looking for in form of protection. Our desires were to find a set of “rockers” that were similar to factory Rubicon units but that featured more secure mounting points and tubing that would eliminate the possibility of damaging our most vulnerable area. These “rockers” are much lighter than some of the boat side type of protection, yet they offer just as much protection.
The main portion of the “rocker” looks much like the factory Rubicon pieces, however, it is slightly larger, wraps under the rocker panel more, and most importantly, bolts to the Jeep’s body mounts for excellent rigidity and strength. The main slider section can take a beating, looks great and it is also cut to the proper (shorter) length to accept a 37” tire in the rear wheel well without any trimming. The main slider also has a tube section that not only offers great protection, but it is also angled to provide the best approach and departure angles in the rocker panel area. We suspect that a large hit to the tubing could dent or bend them, however, an additional gusset is welded in to remedy this possibility. We love our Rancho Rocker Guards and couldn’t ask for anything more.
Since 2007 when the Jeep Wrangler JK was introduced, we have not seen as many Rancho rear bumper/tire carrier setups as we thought we would have in the field. We like the minimalistic look and function of a bumper that is more of a frame cap than a bulky, heavy, low hanging bumper. This rear frame type “cap” increases departure angles tremendously compared to all other bumpers on the market and still provides the room to mount an ingenious tire carrier.
After installing the Rear Bumper Tire Carrier on our Jeep first, we were excited to see how easily it mounted as well as how it hugged the JK frame perfectly. It is super stout and can handle a hit from a rock (or another vehicle when on the trail). Yes, it’s still a bumper. There is very little overhang from the back of the frame horns, nor is there anything protruding from the sides of the frame.
The tire carrier is equally as impressive and mounts with ease. It is extremely solid, mounts with grade 8 hardware and includes Polyurethane bump stops that completely eliminate rattling, vibrations and wobble. Best of all, the Rancho tire carrier is now integrated into the JK’s tailgate. By using a new bracket that bolts to existing threaded holes in the Jeep’s tailgate and a Heim Jointed Rod, the carrier now opens together with the tailgate as one piece.
We do wonder how long it will be until we bash the hinge bolt on a rock though. The hinged area where the carrier bolts to the bumper does hang out enough that we do think it will catch a rock or two; however, we also think that this unit is built to take a beating and wouldn’t think twice about dragging this thing through Moab and its steep ledges.
With decades of experience in developing off-road products, Rancho has an edge over much of their competition. Their JK rocker guards are exceptionally well thought out, traditional and affordable. They are a great choice for the hardcore Jeeper and the weekend warrior who may not ever touch steel to rock.
Rancho’s new Rear Bumper Tire Carrier is simple, functional and very affordable as well. While the Spartan aesthetics may not appeal to all, it should look beautiful to the hardcore wheeler that demands more from a rear bumper than looks alone. Rancho hasn’t lost a step since their humble beginnings as Rancho Jeep Supply, and if you haven’t taken a look at their Jeep JK goods lately, we’d say you are missing out.