How to Choose the Best Skid Plate for Protecting the Undercarriage of a Subaru Forester?

Choosing a skid plate for your Subaru Forester can be a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time buyer. Skid plates, also known as underbody protection, are a crucial part of any vehicle that is likely to traverse rough terrains. From rocks and stumps to rough patches on the road, skid plates provide the necessary protection to your vehicle’s underbody, preventing any potential damage to vital components such as the transmission and engine oil pan. This article will guide you through the process of choosing the ideal skid plate for your Subaru Forester.

Understanding Skid Plates and Their Importance

A skid plate is a piece of metal, typically constructed of steel, aluminium, or plastic, that is used to protect the underbody of your vehicle from any potential damage. They are specifically designed to protect vital parts of your vehicle such as the transmission, engine, and front and rear differentials.

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In a Subaru Forester, which is a vehicle known for its well-deserved reputation for off-road performance, a skid plate is almost a necessity, especially if you often traverse rough terrains. They provide an extra layer of protection, preventing you from getting stuck in the wilderness or damaging your vehicle’s underbody. When considering a skid plate, you need to take into account your vehicle’s clearance, the type of terrain you will be traversing, and the material of the skid plate itself.

Different Types of Skid Plates for Subaru Forester

There are several types of skid plates available for the Subaru Forester, with the most common ones being front skid plates, transmission skid plates, and rear differential skid plates.

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Front skid plates are designed to protect the front underbody of your Subaru Forester, including crucial components such as the engine and radiator. These are arguably the most important skid plates to install, as they protect the most vulnerable and crucial parts of your vehicle.

Transmission skid plates, on the other hand, protect the transmission system of your Subaru Forester. While a Subaru’s trademark symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is robust, the transmission system can be susceptible to damage from rocks and stumps, especially when traversing off-road terrains.

Lastly, rear differential skid plates protect the rear differential system, which is crucial for distributing power to the rear wheels of your Subaru Forester. Damage to this component can lead to significant performance issues.

Choosing the Right Skid Plate Material

The material of the skid plate plays a crucial role in determining its durability and performance. The most common materials used for skid plates are aluminium, steel, and plastic.

Aluminium skid plates are lightweight and offer decent protection, but they are not as durable as their steel counterparts. They are suitable for lighter off-road activities and are typically less expensive.

Steel skid plates, while heavier, offer superior protection and durability, making them suitable for heavy-duty off-road activities. However, they are more expensive and can reduce fuel efficiency due to their weight.

Plastic skid plates offer the least protection and are typically used for light duty activities. However, they are the most affordable option.

Top Skid Plate Brands for Subaru Forester

Among the plethora of options available in the market, two brands stand out when it comes to skid plates for Subaru Forester – Crawford Performance and RalliTEK.

Crawford Performance provides high-performance skid plates specifically designed for Subarus. They are made from high-quality aluminium, ensuring robust protection without adding significant weight to your vehicle. Some popular options from Crawford Performance include the Crawford Performance Front Skid Plate and the Crawford Performance Transmission Skid Plate.

RalliTEK, on the other hand, is known for their high-quality steel skid plates. While heavier than aluminium, the skid plates from RalliTEK provide superior protection, making them ideal for heavy-duty off-road activities. Some popular choices include the RalliTEK Front Skid Plate and the RalliTEK Rear Differential Skid Plate.

Cost Considerations When Purchasing a Skid Plate

The price of skid plates for Subaru Forester can vary significantly based on the type, material, and brand. Typically, front and transmission skid plates are pricier due to their size and the amount of protection they offer. Steel skid plates are generally more expensive than aluminium or plastic ones due to their superior durability and protection.

However, it’s worth noting that while skid plates can be an investment, they can save you a significant amount of money in the long run by preventing potential damage to your vehicle’s underbody. Therefore, when considering the price of a skid plate, it’s crucial to consider the potential cost savings from avoiding potential underbody repairs.

Unfortunately, certain skid plate kits may be unavailable at the time of purchase due to high demand or supply chain issues. It’s always a good idea to check availability before making a decision.

Choosing the right skid plate for your Subaru Forester is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. After all, the right skid plate can be the difference between a successful off-road adventure and an expensive repair bill. By considering the factors mentioned in this article, you can ensure that you make the best choice for your specific needs and preferences.

Installation Process and Maintenance of Skid Plates

Installing a skid plate on your Subaru Forester is a straightforward process, but it does require some level of mechanical knowledge. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can install it yourself using the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Otherwise, it is recommended to have a professional perform the installation.

The installation process typically involves removing any existing underbody protection and then fitting the skid plate using the provided hardware. It is vital to ensure that all bolts and screws are securely tightened to prevent the skid plate from becoming loose during your off-road adventures.

Maintenance of your skid plate is just as important as its installation. Regularly inspect your skid plate for any signs of damage, such as dents, cracks, or signs of corrosion. While steel skid plates are more resistant to damage, they can rust if their protective coating is compromised. On the other hand, aluminum skid plates are rust-resistant but can get dents and cracks from heavy impacts. Additionally, remove any debris stuck in the skid plate to prevent it from causing damage to your vehicle’s underbody.

The Effect of Skid Plates on Vehicle Performance

Adding a skid plate to your Subaru Forester does have some impact on its performance. The most noticeable effect is the increase in weight, particularly if you opt for a steel skid plate. This could slightly reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and may affect its handling. However, the trade-off is greatly increased underbody protection, which can save you from costly underbody repairs in the future.

Some drivers also notice a change in the vehicle’s sound after installing a skid plate. This is due to the plate amplifying the sound from the engine and transmission. While some drivers enjoy this amplified sound, others may find it annoying.

Conclusion

Choosing the right skid plate for your Subaru Forester is crucial for ensuring the longevity and performance of your vehicle, particularly if you frequently traverse off-road terrains. The right skid plate not only provides robust underbody protection but can also save you from costly repairs in the long run.

Remember to consider the type, material, and brand of the skid plate when making your decision. Consider the terrain you will be traversing, your budget, and your vehicle’s specific needs and preferences. Whether you choose a lightweight aluminum skid plate from Crawford Performance or a robust steel skid plate from RalliTEK, the key is to select a skid plate that best suits your Subaru Forester’s needs.

With the right skid plate installed on your Subaru Forester, you can confidently traverse any terrain without worrying about potential underbody damage. Happy off-roading!