Tuesday, May 7, 2013

FJ Cruiser: Skids...

I purchased All-Pro's series of skid plates last month, including the transfer case/exhaust skid plate.  With some help from All-Pro a week or so ago, I got the front suspension skid installed.  I needed their help because the front-most holes in the skid weren't in the right place, or so I thought.  The real problem turned out to be some new parts (new for the 2013 model year) that All-Pro had never seen before.  These were small formed brackets.  When these brackets were removed, the front suspension skid fit just fine.  I was able to get the transmission skid plate in by myself; everything fit fine on it.

But then when I went to install the transfer case/exhaust skid, I ran into several fitment issues.  The worst one was that (again!) the front-most holes were in the wrong place.  This time there were no extra parts for me to remove, so I was stuck again.

I'm very impressed with the design and build quality of All-Pro's parts – but what has even that beat is their service.  These folks know they're dealing with a noob when they work with me, but they didn't hesitate to offer their help whenever I asked.  This time was no exception.  I drove up to Perris with my transfer case/exhaust skid, and Nick went to work on my truck.  To my great relief, he ran into the same issues I did – so it wasn't something completely dumb that I was doing.  It took him almost three hours, but he eventually got my skid installed.  He had to modify it slightly (drilling out those front-most holes to a larger diameter), but mostly what he did was to put things together in the right order and then pry, knock, bump, and cajole the parts into place so they could be bolted in.  I learned a great deal about the art of fitment in the face of annoyingly loose Toyota tolerances.  In fact, if I had any idea what I was doing I could have done all the things Nick did with my tools at home – but there is that pesky problem that I don't know what I'm doing :)

Bottom line: if you need armor for your FJ Cruiser, I recommend All-Pro without reservation.  Great products, service, and people!

In the end, I drove home with all three of the main skid plates installed.  The bottom of our FJ is now armored quite nicely; we'll have to try very hard to damage anything.  I still have a little more armor to install: the lower links for the rear suspension have their own cute little skids (four of them, one for each joint), and I have a rear differential skid on the way here.  After that, we're “armored up” and ready for bear...

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