Plates and Armor ... Weight vs Protection - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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2012 Night Armor Xterra S 4x4
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Plates and Armor ... Weight vs Protection

Just now getting into the protection /armor options for under my Xterra.

I did install a gas tank plate ( Shrock) a few days ago...jesus that thing is solid - and HEAVY.

Wondering - what did you install ?

Why didja go with your option ? Was there a benefit of weight, or a benefit of savings ?
Seems like - only in aluminum - can you get as light as possible, but the cost is considerably more.

Right now - P and P Engineering is sold out of most aluminum plates.

The typical "splash plates" I've seen on eBay are the Pro-4X plates that are stamped sheet metal...and honestly -
not much protection from a wayward rock or tree stump -but hey! it's better than having zero underneath.

Anyway - chime in with your .02 worth as I'd like to consider what other owners are running.

As an aside - different subject - I have a pair of Shrock rock sliders on order...and still a few weeks away from delivery.


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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 12:42 PM
2011 Avalanche White Xterra S - Tonka
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99% of my off roading is really easy to mild moderate stuff, green and blue roads/trails in the Funtreks books, so I chose to get a set of stock Pro-4X plates from someone. I agree, they may not be the best but at least it is some protection, and not much weight gain.

The other thought I have about them is that when you do hear them go BANG or SCRAAAAPE.... well it isn't an unprotected item taking the hit.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 01:48 PM
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Our '06 has Shrock rad and engine skids, OEM for the rest of the skids. Our '09 has the complete Shrock .

They're set up this way because... that's what the previous owners had done. I have not added or changed anything myself (yet). I do have an extra OEM transfer case skid that I'm going to put on the '06 to double up the thickness there.

In the future I'm considering switching most of the '09's Shrock steel to Hefty aluminum. The reason would be to lose weight... I figure I could drop 100# and that's not a trivial amount when we don't have a lot of GVWR overhead. And it's not just the weight when driving around, as you noted the steel ones are a bit of a pain to handle when removing them to do maintenance.

We don't do any extreme off roading. But there's a lot of rock here, and rocks are hard. I like the peace of mind provided by having something more robust than the OEM ones, at least for the radiator and engine. For my purposes, I think aluminum would do just fine. I would rather carefully choose a line and avoid hitting them altogether, rather than bashing on them.

For further info about metal options, there's a pretty good discussion about the merits of aluminum vs steel skid plates here:
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 02:03 PM
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I've got a full Hefty skid plate set. I originally went steel for the rad skid and aluminum for the rest, with the thought that if I'm going to bang anything hard it'll be right up front. That lasted a year and, after landing on my engine skid enough times to concave it, I replaced it with steel. I've also come down hard on the transmission skid several times but it's holding up so far. Transfer case and gas tank skids look pristine. I consider my wheeling moderate at best and was surprised at how badly I beat up that engine skid.

What you go with depends on a number of factors. The type of wheeling you do, the strength you're looking for, and how much you're willing to spend. The hefty aluminum skids are built to accomplish 80% of the strength of steel while being half the weight.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 02:25 PM
2011 Super Black Xterra Pro-4X 6MT
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I ran stock PRO-4X skids for years with no issues. I eventually destroyed my radiator skid, partly because the rear fasteners corroded and allowed the rear side to be loose, and I think my lift also contributed in changing where it usually hit the ground. One trip I backed up in some mud and wadded the skid up in a ball under my nose.

Downside to the stock skids is they are mud scoops, those openings to make them lighter scoop mud and pack it in hard to reach places. Mud from where I wheel sets up like concrete and you can never get it all out. I've taken them off and removed mounds of dried mud.

I have new Hefty skids I should be getting very soon on order. I really am not fond of the weight and was reluctant to order them, but I am interested to see if the unbroken surface keeps more junk out of my undercarriage. I drag my belly and high center enough I think it will bring some peace of mind. I'm hoping primarily only liquid stuff will flow over them and thus might flow back out.

I am not a fan of the Aluminum skid idea. Aluminum will snag where steel slides.

Personally if you don't wheel hard and are shy of mud, I'd go with the stock skids all day. They protect well enough and don't weigh much. But all the same I do expect I'll enjoy my Hefty's.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 02:54 PM
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Steel all around, granted when I go wheeling you can usually follow a trail of blue paint from the skids to my car. If I didn't wheel it hard I would probably opt for aluminum for the weight savings, but I've put a couple dents in the steel and can't imagine what at would do to aluminum.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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@Chase5Hart yeah, I imagine - the dent in the steel plate would have been a crack all the way through an aluminum plate. A dent in steel you can hammer right back.

Allthough I can't say what sort of malleability an aluminum plate has...I suspect these manufacturers get their materials source from different vendors.

I'm still not sure of what my typical off-road adventure will be...( let's say 8/10 trips) since my Xterra is my DD -
I'll opt for some weight savings for most of these -and go with the OEM factory stamped metal, or I'll go aluminum.

@Airmapper you could be right...I know @Albatross_cafe had an aluminum plate that didn't slide one little bit - but was pushed up about an inch. I think steel in his particular scenario would have been an advantage. ( and I bet the sound in the cab while that was happening was pretty gnarly.)
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 04:15 PM
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Progress from weak to strong as they break.

PRO-4x --> Aluminum --> Steel.

I started with PRO-4x stock. Replaced all with aluminum. Now transfer case and gas tank are steel because they got destroyed.

Unless you get in the rocks, sliders are MUCH more helpful than skids. If I never planned to be in rocks, I might keep the PRO-4x stock ones TBH. Maybe go to aluminum.
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Last edited by AlbatrossCafe; 04-03-2019 at 04:38 PM.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 08:16 PM
2011 Metallic Green Xterra Pro-4X
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Depends on the trails you want to run. I wouldn't run anything less than a full set of steel here on the east coast. Unless you only plan on easy trails or fire roads.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 08:34 PM
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I'm with the rest of the steel crowd, but like many others have said, it all depends on what type of wheeling you do.
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