When you’re diving head first into the 4×4 world, there are plenty of things to learn to keep yourself, your vehicle, and others joining you safe and sound. Rock sliders are one of the essential 4×4 additions that will make your adventuring even better. Rock sliders support the weight of your vehicle and protect the side panels from damage.
Features and Importance of Rock Sliders
Drivers who partake in intense 4×4 action opt for rock sliders as an accessory to support their vehicle from underneath. This way, when there isn’t enough ground clearance and aggressive rock tracks are in your path, there’s something to fall back on to protect the vehicle. They’re also helpful for sliding the 4×4 over rocks and sand ridges.
Rock sliders come in different sizes, materials, and construction, but they usually share some basic features.
- Twin-tube construction (four or more connections among the two tubes)
- Attach to the chassis with three or four mountings
- Upswept angles
- Protect sides and sills
- Tough; able to take hits over and over and withstand damage
- Support the weight of the vehicle with ridged construction
- Can be high lift jacked
Rock sliders are sometimes confused for side steps, but side steps are a very different addition. However, sliders can sometimes be used as side steps since they tend to stick out from the sides of the vehicle. If you see a 4×4 with designated side steps, though, know that those will not protect the vehicle’s underbelly from rocks. If this is confusing, think about how a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square. Rock sliders can also be used as side steps but side steps cannot be used in place of rock sliders.
Why Rock Sliders Are an Important Accessory
Adventuring off-road in your 4×4 comes with plenty of exciting obstacles, but it also comes with dangerous hindrances that can hurt your vehicle. Rock sliders offer an extra layer of protection between your vehicle and whatever is underneath it, meaning that your 4×4 won’t take on as much damage over time. Sills and lower panels are particularly vulnerable, and rock sliders are great for keeping them safe. Sills are quite expensive to repair, so sliders are a solid investment that protects your vehicle instead of just paying to replace something that needs to be protected again.
Purchasing and Installing High-Quality Rock Sliders
Just as with any aftermarket addition to your 4×4, it’s important to do your research so that you’re adding something of high quality that will last and do the job it says it’s going to do.
Rock sliders can be purchased at online warehouse retailers as well as specialty auto shops. When you’re shopping, read reviews and make sure that the ones you purchase are made to fit your specific vehicle and hold up to the type of off-roading you’ll be doing. You’ll probably be looking at upwards of $1,000, including installation. However, this is much less than what you’d end up paying for a damaged undercarriage or new side panels.
You could always install sliders yourself, especially if you have a great deal of knowledge about 4x4s. Enlist a friend or family member to help you, as it’s often more than a one-person job. Most sliders come with mounts that are specifically made for the type of 4×4 you purchased the sliders to fit, which makes the job much easier. If in doubt at all, though, you should go to a professional, as one error in installation could make them fall off or not protect your 4×4 at a crucial moment. You don’t want parts falling off that could cause an accident, either.
When you’re choosing accessories for your 4×4, there are plenty that fall along the “necessary” side of the spectrum and others that are just fun. Rock sliders probably go somewhere in the middle. If you aren’t driving along aggressive, rocky, potentially dangerous tracks, then rock sliders don’t need to be the first thing you buy. However, if you’re planning on taking your 4×4 out onto the very open road where rocks and obstacles abound, they’re a smart choice that will pay off in the long run.