Product review

BREAKING: Wrangler JL caught uncovered!

JL

Thanks to a Reddit user with a quick eye and quicker shutter finger, we have our first look at an unmasked 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. There’s at lot to take in here, so watch for an analysis post later.

Coming into view

Before:

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After:

A notable effect of installing my new crash-bar skid plate was that it blocked some of the light from my rock lights. Prior to the installation, I’d simply had the lights mounted to the bottom of the front bumper. But, the skid cut off the forward throw of the lights, so a change was in order.

Moving the three forward lights necessitated only minor rewiring, as two of the three had to be cut out of the wiring series to free the bumper for removal in installing the skid plate, anyway. So, I took advantage of the necessity to adjust the position of all three for the best possible light throw.

Two of the three now reside under the forward frame rails, where they do an admirable job of casting a nice squared-off light below and in front of the Jeep. I placed the third on the flat plastic shroud beneath my radiator. Here, it helps augment the frame-rail lights, and also casts a little more light backward along the center-line of the vehicle, an area that had been more shadowy than I’d liked.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the new light pattern. I think it’ll be a useful change. I was a little hesitant regarding the radiator-mounted light, as I’m not sure how any heat transferred from the radiator will affect the 3M tape holding the light in place. Time will tell, of course, but it’s looking good so far. I’ve already had the chance to put them to use, and they performed very well.

First impressions: Crawler Conceptz Ultra Front Skid

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The good news is my Crawler Conceptz lower skid is finally mounted. It fought to the last with fitment. A friend helped me remove the bumper (a frustrating necessity) and attach the skid on Saturday. The nine bolts and Nylok nuts that attach the skid to the bumper have just enough clearance to mount. The bolts don’t even extend into the nylon ring, let alone protrude from the nuts.

skidpowderLater, after a test drive, I discovered the bolts already were coming loose, and now some were just hand tight! So, again with a friend’s help because of the 100-pound (combined) weight involved, the bumper was removed. One by one, we loosened or removed the bolts, applying Lock-Tite and re-secured each one.

The look is great and, in defiance of logic, just the addition of the 26-pound skid makes the Jeep feel much more planted and stock-like on surface streets. (I suspect this is the additional weight balancing out the heft of the rear bumper-tire carrier.) The downside is that it also introduced a bit of noticeable understeer on the highway. It’s nothing I won’t get used to and be able to compensate for, but it wasn’t a change I expected.

Overall, I’m glad I added the Ultra Series img_1034skid. It makes the front end look more complete with the Ultra Series stubby bumper look. But, if I had it to do over again, I’d likely go with the company’s one-piece unit that includes a true recessed winch mount.

Two projects done. About to wrap up a third before moving on to a fourth. Getting four of six projects done isn’t a bad day’s work. (And, the day’s not over.) Many thanks to my friend, Cliff J., for his help!

I keep waiting to wake up and realize the flaw in these dual-LED pod mounts from Off-Camber Fabrications, but it hasn’t hit me yet. These mounts keep a pair of LED pods nice and compact, yet retail near-full adjustability. (It does appear installing and aiming the pods may be a bit more difficult with these, but minimizing the profile the lights present going down the road make that worth it, in my opinion.

And, at $50, it’s just a tick less expensive than the much taller Rigid dual-pod mount.