Rock Hard 4x4 Parts Gas Tank Skid Plate For Jeep JK Unlimited

Get protected BEFORE you go wheelin'

Jun. 04, 2008 By Robert Sutter
When you wheel, dents, scratches and bumps are inevitable. You know it's going to happen. If you’re new to the sport you may deny it, but one of these days, you’re going to drag, scrape, slide, or smash your Jeep over a rock. Eeeek! Say it isn’t so! Yep - it's so.  

When Jeep designed the JK, the gas tank was moved from behind the rear axle (as was typical in earlier Wranglers) to between the frame rails and the axles. Unfortunately, it also hangs below the frame rails some, eating into valuable ground clearance, decreasing your breakover angle, and being all-around vulnerable to being smashed.

Jeep provides a skid plate for the gas tank and it does an awesome job! Actually no, it doesn’t. The OEM skid plate is about 1/16” of an inch thick. Because the gas tanks on both the 2dr and the Unlimited are so long, there is a lot of unsupported area that is susceptible to being crushed.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much too completely crumple the OEM skid plate just like it was tin foil. Whether it's driver error or spotter error, it doesn’t really matter. It can happen just like that.

Let’s assume for a moment that you have crumpled your gas tank skid plate. You are now faced with a whole slew of unpleasant realities. First is that your available fuel capacity is reduced due to the skid plate forcing the gas tank into a less than full position. Next is a reduced tendency to slide over things. With all these dents, ridges, and valleys you are far more prone to getting hung up on things than you would be with a smooth belly under your JK. Finally, having your skid plate in this condition reduces its capacity to protect you in the event of an accident.

When I was a H3 driver I smashed the heck out of the OEM skid plate and was never happy that no aftermarket skid plates were available. When I was building up my JK I knew that would be getting some proper underbody armor. Doing this was a no-brainer. Enter the Rock Hard 4x4 Parts Jeep JK gas tank skid plate.

I looked about and decided on the Rock Hard gas tank skid. Rock Hard makes a few other components to armor the bottom of your JK and all the pieces are modular. You can add the individual pieces one at a time as your budget allows. Seeing as I had killed my budget on the Poly Performance lift I installed, I’ll need to add these other pieces slowly, one at a time.

The Rock Hard skid plate is cut from 3/16” laser cut steel plate and then CNC bent into shape. It’s a fairly stout piece weighing in at about 65lbs.

When you mount the Rock Hard skid there is no need to remove the OEM skid plate, the Rock Hard skid bolts right over it creating a double layer of steel to protect your tank. All the OEM attachment points are reused. On the JK Unlimited three additional holes need to be drilled in the OEM skid plate for mounting. On the 2dr only one hole needs to be drilled. Rock Hard even includes tapered bolt protectors for the surface mounted bolts so that the heads are protected while still allowing access for a socket in case you need to remove the skid later on. Rock Hard has also incorporated some drainage holes in the center of the skid plate and the tailing edge has no lip so that any water that does end up on top of the skid plate will simply sluice off as soon as you move or hit even the smallest incline.

Installation was fairly easy, even working by myself. I simply slid the skid plate under the Jeep and propped each end up with some blocks of wood. Then using a floor jack I lifted the skid plate until it was up against the OEM skid. I removed a few of the OEM bolts at a time and then moved the Rock Hard attachment points into place and reattached the bolts. After the primary bolts were in place I drilled out the required holes in the OEM skid.

Some people may be leery of drilling into the OEM skid for fear of going through the skid plate and then into the gas tank itself. After all, the gas tank is simply plastic. Rock Hard thought of that too. The locations that they chose for the additional mounting points have an additional layer in the OEM steel. This prevents you from making a mistake and drilling too far. Or, should I say: you’d need to work really, really hard to mess this up.

One of three spots you’ll need to drill on an Unlimited

Out on the trail my Rock Hard gas tank skid plate has already served its purpose. While I was happily reviling in the new capabilities of my Poly Performance lifted JK I managed to land myself smack on top of a rather nasty, pointy rock. I came down on that sucker hard! If I hadn’t had the Rock Hard gas tank skid plate I’m sure that I would now have a rather huge dent in my OEM skid plate and would have had a bear of a time getting myself off of that rock.

As it was, the Rock Hard skid plate made this small problem easy. I slid smoothly over the rock, both forward and backward without an issue. The heavy steel of the Rock Hard skid plate had no problems protecting my JK and its smooth surface made it a piece of cake to free myself. Beside some powder coating left on the rock and a few minor scrapes there’s no evidence that anything ever happened at all.

Without exception, I am very happy with my decision to have gone with the Rock Hard gas tank skid plate. Its stout construction and smooth sliding surface coupled with it being part of a modular system that can be added to at any time made my decision easy. I’m confident that I’ll be adding more Rock Hard components as my budget allows. Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!