Toyota Tacomas are built tough and built to last. However, if you plan on doing any serious offroading or rock climbing, damage will happen. Body panels will get dinged and the undercarriage and other components under can get damaged. Thankfully, there is a massive skid plate aftermarket to armor your Taco to take a beating.
What Is A Skid Plate?
Skid plates are panels made of a tough and abrasion-resistance material that are bolted (usually) onto the bottom side of a vehicle to prevent damage from occurring to the underside of a vehicle when it makes contact with the ground.
For a Tacoma, the biggest place you’re going to want to protect would be under the engine and your front suspension. You can get carried away and cover other suspension components and beyond as well. Prices are going to range from around $100 up to over $1000. Your average price will be around $200 for just the front cover. This is very inexpensive considering what you’re protecting. Let’s get into some examples.
Our friends over at Tacoma World have voiced their opinions on what they like running on their trucks. I have mentioned Bay Area Metal Fab on here a couple times, and they seem to be a driver favorite. BAMF doesn’t have a wide selection on skid plate sections, but they do have a heavy-duty steel IFS (independent front suspension) skid plate.
At $325 with an option to have it powder coated for $90, this solid steel skid plate will offer protection and durability from a well-known name.
Mobtown Offroad is also a big fan favorite, and they offer the full selection of multiple panels and metal options. They have the front, transmission, fuel tank, and transfer case skid plates. If you get all of them, you’re looking around $1125, but it depends on if you get aluminum or steel. Their front skid plate is popular due to the oil cutout it has. This allows you to get your oil changed without having to take the skid plate off. Individually, each part is around $250.
RCI Off Road offers some great options for skid plates. Not only do they offer the variety of plates that Mobtown does, but also a rear-differential and A-arm skid plates as well. Instead of purchasing each piece, they also offer a complete package. Each part allows you to choose between black powder-coated steel, raw aluminum, or black powder-coated aluminum. Each part has a similar price to Mobtown’s prices.
If you want to go full Toyota, there is an OEM option. As with many OEM parts, it’s going to be more expensive over aftermarket, but you’re generally assured a good fit. Amazon offers a TRD front skid plate for Tacomas for about $454. It’s still an aggressive-looking part for factory, and it should perform well, but you don’t get any options. It’s one color, and it’s made out of aluminum.
Steel or Aluminum?
For a lot of these, you have the option of steel or aluminum? Which is better? Which should you get? This all depends on how you are using your truck. Steel is a very strong metal. It can take a beating and keep on going. If you are doing some serious rock crawling up the side of a mountain, you will want the protection of steel. The downside is that steel is very heavy. Weight affects the performance of your truck: gas mileage, acceleration, braking, balance, and so on.
On the other end, aluminum is very light. The tradeoff is that it’s not as strong. If you’re a weekend warrior who goes on a couple of trails that might have a hill or two, aluminum is the way to go. Weight will still be added to your truck, but far less than steel. Don’t be shy about protection: aluminum will get most jobs done the same way steel will, but depending on the thickness and how sharp the rock is that your truck just crashed down on, it could be the difference between a scratch, and a full puncture.
Like I’ve said with tires and other modifications countless times before on this blog: know your end goal, and buy accordingly.
Other Body Armor Options
Skid plates protect all the expensive mechanical and electronic stuff. What about the rest of your truck? While I have your attention, let’s take a quick look at some other options.
Brush Guards and Rock Sliders
I’m putting both of these together because I have separate posts about them that cover the parts and options in great detail. In short, brush guards do a great job at protecting the front of your truck and sliders protect the body and sides of the undercarriage. Here are the links to those posts:
If you’re concerned about rolling over during your adventures, a full-on roll cage might be a good option, but if you want something that looks good, is cheaper, and still offers some protection, a roll bar is a good option. You can get them for around $500.
A very expensive option, but very durable if you’re serious about off-roading would be bumpers. Stock bumpers look great but offer no protection while rock crawling. Off-roading bumpers are heavy but designed to take a beating.
There are plenty of options to protect your Tacoma when you’re battling the Earth. It all depends on where you’re going, and how hard you’re pushing your truck. Regardless, make the investment now so you don’t have to pay the price later to replace expensive components.
BAMF - Courtesy of BAMF
Mobtown - Courtesy of Mobtown Offroad
TRD Factory - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user tacopromatt