As I Recall, Nobody Is Perfect

When I was growing up, I was probably viewed as some kind of a gearhead. I bought my first car at the tender age of fourteen. I spent a lot of my spare time tinkling under the hood or grinding away at the body. I always ran in social circles with the kind of guys who turned wrenches and found trouble by barking tires and practicing red-light launches, or “blatant displays of speed”, as the citation would always read.

I remember a tale I was told, back in the day, by a car-buddy of mine who drove a ’70 Nova SS. He said that you should never buy a car that was built on a Monday. His statement cleverly insinuated that the guys who worked the assembly line would show up for work on a Monday, still a bit hung over from the weekend, and, for that reason, would do a less-than-stellar job. I found it somewhat silly to make such a declaration when the process of finding out what exact week a car was built was as complex as advanced trigonometry, much less the exact day.

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My friend’s statement was founded nonetheless. His Nova, as nice as it was, held a sort-of factory defect itself. His father was the original owner of the car, having purchased it in November of ’69, before passing it on to his son; so its history was pretty well known. On a hot June afternoon, while installing some wiring for a stereo amplifier, the passenger side kick panel was removed to reveal an old Stroh’s beer can crushed flat and nestled inside the hidden cavity behind. The fact that the metal can was heavy and had the old pull tab style top made it seem original to the era. It wasn’t like we ever heard an unknown rattle nor did we smell the stale funk that would surely emanate from a discarded beer can on a hot day, had it not been some 17 years later. We always joked that the UAW workers were literally “lit” while assembling his X-bodied pride & joy. And we may have not been wrong.

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This old yarn was brought to mind recently when the new and highly-touted 2018-19 Jeep Wrangler JL was recalled for faulty welds on its track bar mounts. Nothing stirs up public speculation like a crack in the frame of a brand new vehicle. Is it even possible today that the guy behind the welding gun over at Jeep is all dizzied-up on malted hops? Surely today’s assembler would be sipping coconut water or a soy latte?

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After my recent tour of the Toledo Assembly Plant back in August, I can say definitively NO. In fact, a large majority, if not all, of the welding on the chassis is performed by robotic arms that work efficiently and with exacting precision. The actual temperature of the weld is a known quantity, as is every aspect of the welded union, generating a finished weld that simply can’t be duplicated by even the most skilled human with any degree of regularity. The entire process is monitored by sensors and carefully controlled by an advanced computer system that serves as the brain of the operation. And therein lies the only likely suspect for such a manufacturing flaw.

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So while the level of automation that is incorporated into the assembly of a car has all but eliminated the possibility for human error, the fact that humans are tasked with building the robotics and developing the programs that drive their systems leaves a wide window for such glitches to occur. If nothing else, such a recall should remind us that it’s usually best to wait for the second year of production on a new model before making a purchase; or develop a deeper comfort level with the possibility of such issues arising, knowing that solutions will be swift and exhaustive. That being said, I’m a long way from being comfortable with a computer driving my car for me…those things weld like they’re drunk! OlllllllO

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Legends of the Fall

I was fortunate enough to recently spend the better part of a week in the mountains of North Georgia with a group of journalists assembled from around the country. Our primary purpose was to get out and enjoy the backroads and wooded wilderness in a handful of Jeeps. And on this particular occasion the timing couldn’t have been better.

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Folks with an advanced level of knowledge can advise you on the virtues of the yearly procession of fall that they call the autumnal equinox. In the south, the event is usually marked by cooler temperatures and a welcomed reprieve from an endless cycle of grass-cutting and yard watering.

The “first day of fall”, as we call it, signifies what I would have to say is my favorite time of year. Besides the cooler weather, fall is a time for the spectacle of golden hues that adorn the trees just before they shed their foliage entirely for the winter. It’s a time for brewing up some homemade chili and for high school football on a Friday night. Best of all, it’s a time for Jeeps.

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This year, fall’s entrance has been marked by unusually warm temperatures. Certainly warmer than we are normally accustomed to in the south. But that doesn’t change the fact that fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy your Jeep.

While I am a firm believer that Jeeps were meant to be driven without doors, I’m not usually one to set out for a drive without some sort of overhead cover. At the very least, a bikini top or sunshade to keep the scorching rays off of my head is how I’m prone to roll. However, once fall has made its entry, I find that running with no top at all is the ideal remedy for whatever ails you. Besides, you don’t need anything between you and the pageantry of changing leaves; not to mention those clear, starlit nights. But take the time to breathe it in…because in a few short weeks, winter will be here and such deep breaths will be much less enjoyable. And those Jeeps will be weighted down with doors and tops and heaters on full-blast. It is then that you will yearn for this day.

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So get out there and enjoy your Jeep and all the beauty that autumn brings us. There is plenty to see and experience and the legendary Jeep is the perfect place for you to take it all in. OlllllllO

A red Jeep Wrangler drives toward Cottonwood Pass through bright fall aspen trees.

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Space-Age Polymers and Advanced Technology Makes for Instant Fun – Just Add Water!!!

I believe that it is written, somewhere deep within the yellowed pages of an old Jeep owner’s manual, that you have not officially achieved full-fledged Jeep ownership status until you have been baptized into the Jeep church. Don’t get me wrong…despite the name this isn’t a religious ceremony of any sort. It doesn’t require a priest and is not likely to be followed by a reception, complete with little finger sandwiches, fruit punch or a cake. This ‘baptism’ is one of deep water, of pouring rain and probably of mud. Sure, it tends to be a messy ordeal but it always washes off and things dry out long before the memory ever fades.

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I can’t even recall the first time it happened to me, or begin to count the number of times that followed. What I can easily recall is that some of the best times I’ve had in my Jeep have been when things are NOT going the way they should. I could go as far as to say, with reasonable certainty that I’ve been set up. Jeep made plenty of allowances in their design to allow for the unexpected and undesirable to happen. The roof is configured to come off the vehicle entirely, as well as the doors, which both seem pretty suspect to me. There are even plugs in the floor that, when removed, allow for water to drain out of the cab, although the diameter of the drain holes are much too small to keep up with the water flow demand so your ankles will usually remain completely submerged in a heavy downpour. It’s like Jeep knew what kind of trouble Jeep owners were likely to get into and they wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle it and make a full recovery.

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My first ‘baptism’ was innocent enough. It was a sunny spring morning in Georgia and I opted to give my daily driver wheels the day off, choosing to enjoy a sun-soaked trek in to the office in the Jeep. The fresh aroma of budding trees triggered by winters end, accompanied by soft, cool breezes was just the right way in which to start your day and an even better way to end it. Mother nature, however, was hard at work in the background, enacting plans to make sure those blossoming trees had ample water- a plan she would put into full action about the time I began my homeward jaunt. As a steady stream of water trickled from my interior rearview mirror, as though a water faucet had been left on, it occurred to me that a bikini top was probably a well-chosen name for a product that basically guarantees that you are going to get wet. My thoughts then shifted to relative gravity of the situation that unfolded around me as my vehicles entire interior electrical system was being exposed to the one element of nature that it has the least in common with. All these years I spent avoiding the urge to use the hair dryer while lying in the bathtub were all for naught, as I was most certainly about to perish in a freak electrical fire.

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The most redeeming part of the Jeep baptism is probably the impression it makes on those around you that get to witness the event. The look of complete and total pity expressed on the faces of onlookers as they watch you brave the torrential floods must be seen to be believed. A look that could only be outdone by the shock and dismay that their faces would reveal, if they only knew that you were having a blast! I recall on one occasion a fellow in a black luxury sport sedan who pulled up next to me in one such monsoon, partially rolled down his window and made a verbal gesture of his compassion for my plight. “Bad day to own a Jeep! Ain’t it?” he said, to which I replied “No… Thursdays are as good as any day.”

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Of course, there is a flip-side to that coin. Every rose has its thorns; or at least that is the rumor I’ve heard relayed in a song. When it comes to having fun while in a Jeep, water is clearly the magical multiplier. Whether it’s a wide water crossing that runs up to your rocker panels, skirting a majestic waterfall on an isolated backwoods trail or adding equal sums of dirt and water together to make mud- the end result is always the same. Everything you do in a Jeep is “funner” when you add water, but be careful. When you are out wheeling and you add water, things can get really slick really fast! While I don’t mind an occasional struggle for traction, if your adventure has you on any sort of an incline, you will soon be unwillingly finding the shortest route down the mountain; bouncing off anything and everything that is in your path. While this still makes for vast amounts of fun, for those who value pretty painted sheet metal, this can be a real downer. For those Jeepers who are still sending the bank a monthly payment, it’s a downright unacceptable activity to use your Jeep to clear-cut forest land. For that reason, splashing through puddles is the recommended watersport until you have title in hand (with the top off, of course).

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So if you’re out in your topless Jeep and the dark clouds seem to conspire to rain on your parade, don’t despair. It’s just part of your baptism. Sit back, breathe in the air and enjoy it. Most importantly, try not to look too crazy. It’s a Jeep Thing! OlllllllO

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Rugged Ridge releases new Adjustable Rear Track Bar and Relocation Bracket for 2007-2018 Wrangler JK

Two Options Offered to Maintain Differential Alignment in Lifted Jeeps

Suwanee, Ga. (February 6, 2018) – Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the release of both a new Adjustable Rear Track Bar as well as a Rear Track Bar Relocation Bracket for 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK / JKU models.

Engineered to effectively address issues with differential alignment in vehicles with suspension lifts installed, the Rugged Ridge Adjustable Rear Track Bar gives JK enthusiasts the ability to adjust the rear track bar length to compensate for suspension lifts ranging from two and a half to five inches.

Constructed of high strength forged steel to stand up to the rigors of off-road use, each Adjustable Track Bar features a durable black powder coated finish and urethane bushings for improved control and stability on the road with an extremely robust adjustment sleeve for greater versatility.

Rugged Ridge Rear Track Bar Relocation Bracket restores proper track bar positioning on lifted JK Wranglers. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Rear Track Bar Relocation Bracket restores proper track bar positioning on lifted JK Wranglers.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Additionally, Rugged Ridge has released a Rear Track Bar Relocation Bracket designed to accurately reposition the factory JK rear track bar to help restore proper wheel tracking on lifted JK Wranglers. Built from four-millimeter-thick plate steel and beautifully powdercoated to resist corrosion, each bracket is precision formed for ease of install on the 2007-2018 Wrangler JK with two positions for a tailored fitment.

The Rugged Ridge Adjustable Rear Track Bar and Rear Track Bar Relocation Bracket are backed by Rugged Ridge’s industry-leading five-year limited warranty and are available online and through select Jeep and off-road parts and accessories retailers.

For more information about Rugged Ridge Adjustable Track Bar and Bracket, or its complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an approved retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Part Number Description MSRP
18303.81 Rear Track Bar Relocation Bracket, 07-18 Wrangler JK $106.99
18305.06 Rear, Track Bar, Adjustable, 07-18 JK/JKU $249.99

Rugged Ridge introduces exterior armor with new Steel Body Armor Cladding for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK

Superior Lower Body Panel Protection Fights Against Corrosion and Rust

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the addition of its new Steel Body Armor Cladding for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK / JKU models to its line of exterior body armor products.

Rugged Ridge Steel Body Armor Cladding adds extra protection and is engineered to fight off rust and corrosion.  Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Steel Body Armor Cladding adds extra protection and is engineered to fight off rust and corrosion.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Designed with the off-road Jeep enthusiast in mind, new Steel Body Armor Cladding is built from heavy duty three millimeter thick steel plate to provide a high level of protection to vulnerable rocker panels, an area commonly damaged in even mild off-road environments. The Steel Body Armor Claddings sectional construction for a tighter fit and easier installation, with only slight drilling required and can be used with OE or aftermarket flares, as well as Rugged Ridge Armor Fenders.

Each section of armor cladding is treated to a durable black powder coat to guard it from rust, corrosion and any threats the trail may pose; providing long-lasting protection despite severe conditions. Stainless button-head hardware attaches the armor securely to the body and gives the Jeep for a quick install. 

“We engineered the new Steel Body Cladding to offer extrended protection and functionality to the armor,” states Eric Russell, Product Engineer at Omix-ADA/Rugged Ridge. “Obviously, not everyone is going to go wheeling in their JK  but we want to provide extra protection just incase.”

The Rugged Ridge Steel Body Armor Cladding is backed by an industry leading five-year limited warranty and is available online and through select Jeep and off-road parts & accessories retailers nationwide with an MSRP of $266.99 for the JK 2-door and $333.99 for the JKU 4-door.

For more information about the new Steel Body Armor Cladding or and of Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an approved retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com

Part Number Description MSRP
11615.10 Steel Body Armor Cladding; 07-17 JKU 4-Door $333.99
11615.11 Steel Body Armor Cladding; 07-17 JK 2-Door $266.99

Rugged Ridge expands Elite Fast Track Line with new 50-inch Windshield Light Bar for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK

Limitless Light & Accessory Configurations for the Ultimate in Versatility

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road accessories, today introduced its new Elite Fast Track Modular 50-Inch Light Bar for 2007- 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK and JKU models.

Building on the strengths of the original Elite Fast Track Windshield Light Bar, this new addition incorporates a powerful 50-inch LED Light Bar housing 96 OSRAM LED’s that project 17,000 lumens in a combination of driving and flood patterns for impressive illumination and outstanding overall performance.

Rugged Ridge Elite Fast Track 50-inch Light Bar offers the ability to arrange lights, cameras and accessories in countless configurations with its patented design. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Elite Fast Track 50-inch Light Bar offers the ability to arrange lights, cameras and accessories in countless configurations with its patented design.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

The basis for the Rugged Ridge Elite Fast Track system is an innovative design that incorporates revolutionary channels that extend the length of the A-pillars allowing for infinite adjustability and configurability of off-road lights, trail mirrors, cameras and accessories. With a simple turn of a wrench, the mounts can be reconfigured, added or removed based on changing conditions or varying needs.

The Rugged Ridge Elite Fast Track 50-inch Light Bar makes no compromises in materials, using high-quality
6061 T6 aluminum for the A-pillar sections and upper crossbar, with steel mounting brackets and Grade 8 hardware for sound structural integrity. A durable textured black powder coat provides protection from corrosion and keeps the light bar looking new for years to come.

The Rugged Ridge Elite Fast Track 50-inch Light Bar is backed by an industry-leading five-year limited warranty and is available online and from select Jeep and off-road retailers nationwide with a suggested MSRP of $566.99.

For more information about the new Elite Fast Track 50-inch Light Bar, or any of Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com

Part Number Description Price
11232.53 Fast Track 50″ Light Bar Kit; 07-17 Jeep Wrangler $566.99

Rugged Ridge expands line of Eclipse Sun Shades with new Cargo Barrier to include 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler

A Simple, Effective Solution for Keeping Cargo Inside and Harsh Sunlight Outside

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road accessories, today announced the expansion of its line of Eclipse Sunshades for 2007-
2016 Jeep Wrangler JK to include a Cargo Barrier for both two and four-door models.

Rugged Ridge’s Eclipse Cargo Barrier is designed with mesh and integrated bungee retaining cords to allow for an open-air feel while driving. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge’s Eclipse Cargo Barrier is designed with mesh and integrated bungee retaining cords to allow for an open-air feel while driving.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

The new Rugged Ridge Cargo Barriers are designed to provide the feel of “open-air” driving while protecting the rear seat passengers from harsh sunlight and battering winds. It also serves as a barrier to prevent anything inside the Jeep from blowing out of the cab. Eclipse Cargo Barriers also offer a more secure option for any pets that accompany along for the ride.

Featuring a mesh construction with integrated bungee retaining cords, the Eclipse Cargo Barrier has three sections that install quickly and easily by securing to the sports bar tubing and tub rail. This allows for it to be installed or removed in minutes. The barrier can also be partially removed to gain access to the seating area, if necessary. Additionally, it can be left in place when a soft top is re-installed.

Rugged Ridge’s Eclipse Cargo Barriers are backed by an industry-leading five-year limited warranty and are available online and through select Jeep® and off-road part & accessories retailers nationwide with an MSRP starting at $106.99.

For more information about the Rear Cargo Barrier or Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Part Number Description MSRP
13579.41 Eclipse Cargo Barrier; 07-16 Jeep Wrangler JK 2-door $111.99
13579.42 Eclipse Cargo Barrier; 07-16 Jeep Wrangler JKU 4-door $111.99

Rugged Ridge adds new Dual Battery Tray for 2012-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU models

Dual Battery Tray Allows for Increased Amperage Capacity for Off-Road Capability

Rugged Ridge®, an industry leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road accessories, today announced the addition of a new Dual Battery Tray Kit for 2012-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK models equipped with the 3.6 liter engine.

Rugged Ridge’s new Dual Battery Tray for ’12-’16 Jeep JK is designed to allow for a second battery, essentially doubling the overall power capacity. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge’s new Dual Battery Tray for ’12-’16 Jeep JK is designed to allow for a second battery, essentially doubling the overall power capacity.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge’s new Dual Battery Tray provides the ability to support a second on-board battery for double the power capacity of stock power source, allowing the vehicle to have the kind of amperage needed to power off-road lights, a recovery winch and stereo equipment while not starving the vehicle’s electronics of the current crucial for proper operation. Most importantly, a back-up battery to support vital engine starts in dire situations is always ready and waiting.

The Rugged Ridge Dual Battery Tray is designed specifically for 2012-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK models, ensuring a proper fit. The tray itself is constructed of heavy gauge steel for strength and durability, finished in a gloss black powder coat and includes battery-retaining straps and necessary mounting hardware. The Dual Battery Tray for 2012-2016 JK is recommended to be used in unison with the Rugged Ridge Dual Battery Relay Kit (17265.01) for optimal performance, which allows for proper charging and isolation of the second battery during normal operation.

The Rugged Ridge Dual Battery Tray for 2012-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK models is backed by Rugged Ridge’s industry-leading five-year limited warranty and will be available online and through select Jeep and off- road parts and accessories retailers, with a suggested MSRP of $144.99.

For more information about the Dual Battery Tray, or Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Part Number Description MSRP
11214.54 Dual Battery Tray; ’12-’16 Wrangler JK/JKU, 3.6 L $144.99

Rugged Ridge adds new Euro-Spec XHD Aluminum 17-inch x 8.5-inch Hub-Centric Wheels for 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU

Euro-Spec XHD Aluminum Wheels provide correct wheel size and backspacing for a factory look with O.E. tires

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the addition of new Euro-Spec XHD Aluminum wheels in 17-inch x 8.5-inch, which allow JK owners to remount slightly-used stock tires or upgrade to a similarly-sized off-road tire without changing the stock track width or stance.

Rugged Ridge Euro-spec XHD Aluminum Hub-centric wheels are designed to fit stock tire size without any lift or modifications. Photo credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Euro-spec XHD Aluminum Hub-centric wheels are designed to fit stock tire size without any lift or modifications.
Photo credit: Rugged Ridge

The Euro-Spec XHD Aluminum wheel is designed with the same hub- centric design as that of JK factory wheels in order to provide adequate clearance for factory brake rotors, steering linkages and suspension components, making for a fast, trouble-free install. The one piece design incorporates decorative button head socket cap screws around the perimeter of the wheels, giving the appearance of a more expensive three-piece wheel, while 5.17-inch (11mm) backspacing ensures a superior fit for vibration-free performance. Each wheel has tapered seat-mounting holes to accept the original JK lug nuts and work with original factory tire pressure monitoring system.

Rugged Ridge XHD Euro-Spec wheels are available in Satin Black or
Gunmetal powder coated finishes, not just for a great aesthetic, but
also a long life. All XHD wheels have been independently tested to meet and exceed stringent SAE J2530 standards for wheel strength and durability.

Rugged Ridge Euro-Spec XHD Aluminum Wheels are backed by Rugged Ridge’s limited lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship, as well as a one-year finish warranty. They are available through select Jeep and off-road parts & accessories retailers nationwide with retail starting at $229.99 each.

For more information about the Euro-Spec XHD Hub-Centric Wheels, or Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Price Description Price
15301.60 XHD Wheel, Satin Black, 17×8.5, 07-16 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU $307.99
15301.61 XHD Wheel, Gunmetal, 17×8.5, 07-16 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU $307.99

Rugged Ridge announces new RRC Side Armor Step Plates for 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU

RRC Side Armor Step Plates add an attractive & convenient add on step plate Rugged Ridge RRC Side Armor

Rugged Ridge®, an industry leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road accessories, is pleased to announce the addition of a new RRC Side Armor Step Plate for 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler models as a stylish and functional accent to accompany the already popular RRC Side Armor.

Rugged Ridge’s RRC Side Armor Step Plate is engineered with durable steel to provide a sturdy platform on the vehicle. Photo credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge’s RRC Side Armor Step Plate is engineered with durable steel to provide a sturdy platform on the vehicle.
Photo credit: Rugged Ridge

Constructed of durable steel that has been given a black textured powder coat to match the Rugged Ridge Side Armor, these Step Plates are engineered for a perfect fit and a finish that will durable enough to last for years. Each Step Plate is secured to the side armor with included mounting hardware and is positioned to provide a sturdy, well-placed platform to aid in entering and exiting the vehicle, which can be especially important on lifted Jeeps.

“Side Armor is primarily designed to protect rocker panels
from damage while driving in extreme off-road conditions,”
states Patrick Bennett, Product Development Manager at
Omix-ADA / Rugged Ridge. “When we can engineer a great
looking and simple bolt-on enhancement that will increase the benefits of an existing product that is already on our customers’ Jeeps, it’s a perfect addition to our product catalog.”

The Rugged Ridge RRC Side Armor Step Plates are backed by Rugged Ridge’s industry-leading five-year limited warranty and will be available online and through select Jeep and off-road parts and accessories retailers nationwide with MSRP starting at $93.99 for two-door models and $172.99 for four-door models.

For more information about the RRC Side Armor Step Plate, or Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high- quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770- 614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Part Number Description Price
11504.21 RRC Side Armor Guard Plates, 07-16 Jeep Wrangler JK 2 Door $93.99
11504.25 RRC Side Armor Guard Plates, 07-16 Jeep Wrangler JKU 4 Door $172.99