When you’re in a truck, you can feel the nature of the beast surrounding you. The big bumpers up front, the rugged tires all around, and the beefed up the suspension all make you feel safe. After all, that’s largely why you purchased this ride: for how tough it is. But how ‘bout that undercarriage? The soft spot of any beast is its belly, and your truck is of no exception. Leaving it unprotected is asking for problems. Here are some simple and proven upgrades you can make to ensure premium undercarriage protection.
Basic Undercarriage Protection
In truth, most truck owners aren’t planning on battering their trucks by taking them way off-road. And while there’s nothing wrong with babying your prized ride, you have to remember that sticks and stones aren’t the only threat to the undercarriage of your pickup or SUV. With road salts and moisture, even street-only vehicles are exposed to a harsh environment that can cause major issues. At the very least, products like Fluid Film can be used to coat the undercarriage of the vehicle and will work to keep things from rusting and rotting.
Fluid Film offers undercarriage protection by providing a thin layer (or film) that suspends intruding materials like salt and moisture from making contact with the vehicle’s underside. The product remains in a soft and pliable non-drying state, effectively eliminating the possibility of cracking. This is a very popular upgrade, as it’s affordable and easy to apply.
The downside to Fluid Film is that eventually it will need to be stripped and reapplied. For those looking for more permanent and less hands-on undercarriage protection, consider a traditional spray-on undercoating. This is a fantastic solution for vehicles that need a protective barrier where contact isn’t much of an issue. Many truck owners are now opting to use high-quality liquid bed liner as an undercoating for their vehicle. For vehicles that will be taking some hits down under, check out a product like Rhino Liner for maximum protection.
And regardless of what method you choose, remember to keep that undercarriage clean. Regular washings—especially in the winter—will help keep corrosive salt and chemicals from eating away at essential parts.
Kick It Up a Notch
While undercoating helps reinforce the undercarriage, it can only do so much. It largely increases your protection from weather-related threats, light bumps, and luckily-placed points of impact. But for those who put their truck to work, or frequently head off-road, the threats to your undercarriage can get a little more serious. If you get snagged on mechanical components or smash your oil pan, it’s safe to say you’re pretty, well, up a creek without a paddle.
For maximum undercarriage protection, consider using skid plates (like these from Fab Fours) or Trail Armor rocker panel upgrades from Bushwacker. And for even more durability during off-road adventures, consider upgrading to a product like these Smittybilt rock sliders, as well as beefing up that differential. Rugged Ridge and ARB both offer high-quality diff covers that are ready for all your trail needs. These units are all designed to help absorb and redirect any impacts that your undercarriage simply isn’t prepared to handle. They’re affordable and easy-to-install, making them excellent and attainable options for enthusiasts.
Additionally, these products offer some positive side effects. Adding plates and rails doesn’t just help protect your guts; it can actually improve your off-road capabilities. Without these units, rocker panels, driveshafts, oil pans and other parts can get hung up on obstacles. Now, you can practically glide over rocks and fallen trees, without fear of damaging the undercarriage.
Brake lines may be tucked up and out of the way from most threats, but they’re still a weak point. Wherever flex lines are used on your vehicle, you might want to consider replacing them with steel braided lines—especially if you’re concerned with protruding rocks and stumps. Upgraded brake lines will respond better to impacts and abrasions, ensuring a safer ride. They also provide a firmer pedal feel.
While most off-roading is done at slower speeds, the importance of stopping power can’t be underestimated. A tight turn or steep decline can quickly go from fun to tragic if you’ve neglected those brake lines. You’ve put a lot of time and money into building up your truck or off-road rig, so don’t skimp on quality when it comes to the brakes.
You can’t put a price on peace of mind, but you can on undercarriage protection. Luckily, all the parts mentioned here are relatively low-cost and fairly simple to install. So put your mind at ease and protect the belly of the beast.