Van life is booming, and the fad isn’t going away soon. You may have even decided to begin your adventure van build and need some advice.
Nothing can ruin your plans like broken parts. Is there an essential skid plate to add to your adventure van? We’ve got all the details on the importance of a skid plate and installation tips. Keep reading to learn all this and more!
What Is a Skid Plate?
A skid plate is a protective metal guard attached to the underside of your vehicle. It is usually used as a van, mostly adventure vans or even SUVs. Its role is to protect critical components such as the engine and fuel lines when dealing with off-roading.
So if you’re considering having an adventure van conversion, you need to understand better what a skid plate is. Installing a skid plate onto your vehicle can make it more capable off-road and protect it.
It is a straightforward process. However, it can be labor-intensive. But it still depends on the make and model of your vehicle.
The Importance of Skid Plates in Off-Road Driving
Installing a skid plate on your adventure van is essential for off-road driving. It protects the engine, transmission, fuel tank, and the vehicle’s underside from damage. If a rock or other debris on the road goes underneath the car, a skid plate will guard against harm to the essential components underneath.
Also, it stops any chance of oil leakage and reduces the risk of a vehicle fire. Installing a skid plate is easy as long as you have the proper size cut to the correct shape to fit the van. Skid plates increase the safety of any off-road adventure and ensure the journey ends more peacefully.
The Basics of Skid Plates
Installing a skid plate in your adventure van is essential to keeping your vehicle safe and sound while exploring off-road paths. The basics of skid plate installation involve a lot of processes. Below are the techniques you need to do to install skid plates.
Taking Measurements of Ground Clearance
Taking ground clearance measurements is an essential step before installing a skid plate. You’ll want to measure the length and width of the area where the skid plate will be attached. You should also measure the height of the undercarriage.
It will determine the size and shape of the skid plate you need. Also, measure any existing lift on the vehicle, as this can affect how well the skid plate fits. You will want to pick a size appropriate for the current ride or add an extra lift if necessary.
Taking Measurements of Wheel Wells
When considering the installation of a skid plate on an adventure van, you need to take measurements of the wheel wells. Proper height will ensure a safe and secure fit. First, measuring the wheel wells’ depth is necessary to decide the skid plate’s size and shape.
Also, measuring the width of the wheel wells will allow for the determination of a skid plate that will cover the wheel wells without leaving gaps or being too large. Finally, it’s essential to consider the container’s placement. Like the location of the wheel studs and cutouts, as this could affect the fit and function of the skid plate.
It’s also important to remember to leave space between the wheel wells and the skid plate. Taking the proper measurements when installing a skid plate is essential for the vehicle’s and passengers’ safety and security.
Selecting the Proper Mounting Locations
When selecting the proper mounting locations for a skid plate on your adventure van, it’s essential to ensure that no vital engine components are usually blocked or hindered in any way. You should tighten any bolts that attach to the skid plate. It should come with regular maintenance checks to ensure they stay tight.
Also, the mounting locations should be strong to support the extra weight of the skid plate and any equipment attached to it. It can be challenging to judge in some cases. So enlisting the ability of a professional can be a wise move.
Selecting the Proper Drilling Holes
When installing a skid plate on your adventure van, selecting the proper drilling holes for the job is essential. Measurement and visual cues are necessary to align the correct holes. You may want to use the existing holes in your van as a reference or starting point.
From there, you may want to use clamps and a drill to secure the skid plate. It would help if you also considered what type and size drill bit you should use depending on the material of your skid plate. After selecting your drill bit, mark out drilling holes on the skid plate where you expect them to line up with the stock holes on your van.
Finally, attach the skid plate with the appropriate size screws. You must select the proper drill holes to install the skid plate correctly and securely.
Attaching the Skid Plate with Bolts
Once the skid plate is correctly installed, you must secure it with bolts. First, ensure the bolts are the proper size and length, as the wrong type can do more harm than good. Mark your holes and drill them, then slide the bolts through and secure them on the other side with washers and nuts.
To ensure the bolts are secured:
- Torque them to the correct rating with a wrench or ratchet.
- Use thread locker grease and a drop of oil on the bolts to help protect them from becoming loose over time.
- Check all the bolts to ensure everything is properly secured before taking your adventure van out.
Installing a skid plate on your adventure van is something essential to protecting the underside of your van from damage. Lock washers are a vital part of this installation. Lock washers come in different sizes, materials, and styles and are generally designed to keep the nut or bolt tight and in place after tightening.
When installing a skid plate on your adventure van, you need to use the right type and size of lock washer. They provide extra friction, which resists the loosening of the nuts and bolts due to vibration or other dynamic forces.
Be sure to select the right size and type of lock washer that matches the supported load and style of fastener so that your skid plate will stay secure for many years of off-roading!
Use a Silicone Sealant to Waterproof and Add Extra Protection
Ensuring the skid plate is tightly secured with a silicone sealant can help prevent it from coming loose and allow water, dirt, and debris between the skid plate and the van’s body. Also, silicone sealant can help reduce rattles and squeaks that an uneven holder or bracket might otherwise cause. Read installation guides carefully and double-check the adhesive to ensure the sealant is applied correctly and securely.
Benefits of Using Skid Plates
Installing a skid plate on your van is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your vehicle. Skid plates are solid and durable. They are also lightweight and designed to absorb impact and protect you from rocks, bumps, and debris you may encounter while traveling.
Skid plates are designed to fit all makes and models of vans. Also, they can easily be mounted, often with no special tools required.
They also add an extra layer of protection to essential components of your vehicle—features like bumpers, oil pans, and exhaust systems.
Drawbacks of Using Skid Plates
Putting a skid plate on your adventure van can be a great addition to your vehicle. It could offer protection underneath the car and several other benefits.
However, there are a few drawbacks you should take into account before installing one. Below are some of the disadvantages of having skid plates.
Extra Weight Added to the Vehicle
When installing a skid plate on your adventure van, the extra weight added to the vehicle is an essential factor to consider. The skid plates are typically heavy-duty and range from 30 – 70 lbs. It would help to feel this weight when loading the vehicle for a trip.
Increased Noises While Driving
While this increased protection is undoubtedly beneficial, there can be an added side effect you should be aware of – increased noises while driving. Skid plates are typically made of metal and can create more vibrations as you go.
It can result in more rattling, clattering, and noise from beneath your van. Make sure to take this into account when deciding if installing a skid plate is suitable for your adventure van.
Possibility of a Clogged Catalytic Converter
While skid plates are designed to protect the underside of your vehicle, it is essential to consider the possibility of a clogged catalytic converter. If the skid plate is too close to the catalytic converter and is not installed correctly, it will trap debris and possibly cause other exhaust components to malfunction.
Installing only high-quality skid plates and checking for enough clearance between the skid plate and the catalytic converter is recommended. Also, ensure the bolts on the skid plate are tightly secured so they won’t shift while driving. With proper installation and regular checkups, your skid plate should be able to keep your adventure van protected while avoiding any potential catalytic converter clogs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Skid Plates
There are more factors to consider when choosing skid plates for your adventure van than you might think. Depending on the terrain you typically travel in, you will want to select a skid plate that best fits those conditions.
Some skid plates are made of lightweight aluminum alloy, while others are typically made of hard steel. So let’s look at the factors below that you should consider when choosing skid plates.
If you’re an off-roading enthusiast who has recently converted their adventure van for off-road use, installing a skid plate can protect your vehicle from becoming damaged due to obstacles encountered on the trail. The specific mounting bolts, brackets, and hardware will vary depending on the make and model of your van so you may need custom brackets and hardware depending on your vehicle.
When it comes to budgeting for installing a skid plate to your adventure van, the cost of the job is incredibly variable between vehicles, the model and type of the truck, and any specific features you might choose. You may also need to buy added pieces for the installation, such as screws and mounting brackets. Researching the best plate for your van can help you save money in the long run.
Personal preference will also play a role in choosing the type of skid plate to install. Consider what adventures you plan to go on and choose a skid plate that provides the most coverage for the terrain you plan to drive on. Fabrication skid plates tend to give the most protection, but bolt-on or weld-on options are also available.
For example, aluminum skid plates are lightweight but may be more susceptible to dents and scratches. Steel skid plates weigh more but provide better durability and strength. Choose one based on your budget and level of comfort with each material and installation style.
Learn More About the Installation of a Skid Plate
Installing a skid plate is a great way to protect the underbelly of your adventure van. With a few essential tools and time, you can complete this job quickly and enjoy the benefits immediately. Take your adventure van to the next level and give it the extra protection it needs by installing a skid plate today!
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