There are a few sounds in the off-road world that always make you cringe. That telltale pop of a u-joint, the sound sheet metal makes when it crumples like a soda can and those loud bangs on the underside of your rig when you know you just damaged something really expensive.
The Undercloak skid plate system from Metalcloak makes that last scenario a lot less likely and gives you the peace of mind to hit that next obstacle with the necessary momentum to get over it in one shot.
Let’s take a look at the factory “skid plates”.
What Jeep says are skid plates underneath a Rubicon should be a crime. It’s certainly false and misleading advertising. Outside of the gas tank skid plate, there is not another piece of metal attached underneath that would even qualify to be called a plate.
Jeep did a lot of work to make the JL more efficient when it came out and keeping weight down was a factor. I do wonder if they did any research on belly pans to improve airflow under the chassis. It’s used in race cars to improve aerodynamic efficiency for speed but it has the same effect on fuel economy. The factory parts work as a great air brake while the aftermarket setup definitely looks more efficient.
Breaking down the Undercloak system.
The Undercloak kit is 3 major pieces. A new gas tank skid, a transfer case skid, and an engine and transmission skid. The parts are heavy but easy to install with one person and a floor jack. I installed the entire system in a couple of hours in the driveway with basic hand tools and a floor jack. It can definitely be done faster. I did some maintenance while I was under there and was intermittently disturbed by phone calls and other distractions.
The hardest part of the install was the engine mount brackets. They weren’t labeled with the F indicating the frame side so it took some trial and error to get them to line up like they are supposed to.
I have read complaints about the bolt heads not being recessed on the Undercloak skid plates. In one of those videos regarding the subject they complained that they couldn’t be removed easily and they had to weld a nut on the end to remove them.
In my opinion that’s the single biggest reason why this is the correct approach. You had the ability to weld a nut on there to get the bolt out. It didn’t need to be drilled out forcing you to use an EZ-Out tool or some other method to remove the bolt. This is exactly the reason why Metalcloak used the bolt style they chose. It also means you don’t damage the plate and allows you to replace the bolt and keep using the system.
Do they work?
It’s too early for me to give an opinion on how well they will hold up. Check back in a few months for an update on durability and any impact the weight had on fuel mileage etc.