If you take you Jeep offroad then hitting your differential is inevitable. It is the lowest point on your vehicle and is often the source of getting stuck on an obstacle.
Since striking or dragging your differential is bound to happen at some point or another you should protect it before you cause irreversible damage. Believe it or not when you put metal against rock, metal doesn’t always win. In the image below you’ll see the differential on my TJ after a decade of offroad use and why I was highly motivated to find a product to protect my differentials on my JL.
Cost and Construction
The price is competitive at approximately $170 for the rear and $130 for the front which includes a differential cover required for mounting. The skid plates are 3/16th thick steel with a zinc coating giving it a gold finish and the front cover is unfinished cast iron. I haven’t found this to be an inadequate thickness but most competitors are using 1/4 thick steel meaning there are stronger skid plates available. The design of these skid plates cradles the bottom of the differential where it covers up natural hang-up points and makes sliding over obstacles easier. If you’re wondering about the design differences between JL and JT products the front is exactly the same and the rear for the JT comes with a set of sway bar spacers but is otherwise identical.
I can’t say enough great things about Metalcloak’s installation guides. They were clear and easy to follow and the rear skid plate even has a supplementary video on the Metalcloak website. The rear took about 15 minutes to install with basic hand tools. The front, while not complicated, does take more time and effort because it requires swapping your front differential cover. This takes between 30 minutes to an hour due to the time it may require to drain the old differential fluid, scrape off the old gasket, install a new gasket and cover, and refill the differential fluid.
This is a well-designed product that is simple to install and doesn’t break the bank. It’s not the strongest skid plate on the market but it also means this product provides slightly more clearance, albeit 1/16th isn’t a massive difference. Most people’s gripes will probably come over the color options. Gold isn’t for everyone and the differential cover comes bare without any finish options. So as long as the zinc finish on the skid plates and having to paint the differential cover doesn’t bother you then I would recommend these products.