Truck Trend Garage: Truth About Skidplates
Question: I'm thinking about getting a vehicle with skidplates, but I've heard they can trap mud, dirt, salt, water, etc., which can lead to damage to important components. Is this true? I hear they can also make servicing a vehicle harder, thus more expensive, especially if they happen to be bent or rusted. Is it hard to keep them clean?
Answer: There are pros and cons to almost everything, and all the skidplate downfalls you're pointing out are true, to a point--the severity of each depends on location, driving conditions, climate, maintenance, and more. Skidplates do add a few more bolts and a little extra work to a repair job that requires their removal. But I don't see additional labor time, if any, to be significant. Corrosion can be a factor over the long run, especially in a damaging road-salt environment. And cleaning can be a project involving a power washer applied from uncomfortable positions--followed by compressed air to get water out of the nooks and crannies. The additional risk of corrosion is there, but if you're not in a road salt area and not digging through a mud bog on a regular basis, it's probably a moot point. The general purpose of skidplates is to protect the drivetrain and undercarriage from impact by objects during off-road use. So if that's not in your driving plans, in my opinion, you don't need them. Don't let the skidplates affect your decision on buying a truck. If you're not a four-wheeler and the potential adverse effects are a worry, simply remove the plates.
If you have a technical question regarding your pickup, SUV, or van, feel free to contact Alex, a master technician with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Send a letter to him in care of Truck Trend Garage, 831 S. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, or e-mail us at email@example.com. Please include the VIN with your question. Due to the volume of questions received every month, we cannot guarantee that everyone's question will be personally answered or will appear in the magazine.
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