Tufskinz TRD Skid Plate Insert for 5th Gen 4Runner
TUFSKINZ TRD SKID PLATE INSERTS OVERVIEW AND INSTALL
As 4Runner and off-roading enthusiasts (you wouldn’t be on this site reading this if you weren’t), we all take pride in the TRD heritage of the 4Runner and Toyota’s off-road program.
Most folks here probably already sport a TRD-badged shifter knob, TRD oil cap or the AJT Design key fob with TRD subtly embossed on the back. While the TRD performance parts, such as the Cold Air Intake are actually performance upgrades, the TRD aesthetics still make a big difference in the design of your 4Runner.
Prior to 2019, the TRD stamped skid plate that is part of the TRD Pro package comes without the red badging. The skid is an inexpensive aftermarket Pro-ish modification for non-Pro 4Runner trims.
The look is definitely understated – as far as TRD badging goes. With that being said, for the 2019 TRD Pro lineup, Toyota is stamping the letters in red.
Tufskinz Skid Insert
If you have a pre-2019 skid plate and want to add some color to it, the Tufskinz TRD Skid Plate Insert 3-piece emblem kit is a solid choice.
- Red Skid Plate Insert Kit: Check Price
Each piece of the Tufskinz TRD Insert kit is manufactured with Tufskinz’s 3-layer process.
Each letter emblem is approximately 1/8” thick and is made up of a 3M foam adhesive bottom layer, a color material middle layer, and a UV and scratch resistant polyurethane protective top layer with a beveled edge, and is designed to fit perfectly into the TRD stamp on the skid plate.
According to Tufskinz, the kit is designed to withstand all weather conditions, and Tufskinz guarantees against fading, peeling, and rust. The kit is also made in the USA.
Variety of colors:
- Real Carbon (Domed or Raw)
- TRD Red (Matte or Glossy)
- Black (Matte or Glossy)
- Tufskinz color match options like Blazing Blue (for the Taco fans out there) and Inferno Orange.
If you are interested in the Raw Real Carbon, be aware that the emblems in that kit have a thinner top layer and do not come with beveled edges. This should not greatly affect your experience with the Tufskinz kit too much, but you should know going in.
STEP #1 – PREPARING THE KIT
The install is a pretty straightforward process. In fact, the “install time” on Tufskinz’s website says 5 minutes and a beer.
The first step is to ensure that the emblems and the surface of the skid plate are between 70 and 110 degrees. Since it was August in Houston when I did the install, the mid-morning temperature was somewhere between really hot and hot AF, so I just put the emblem kit on my hood for about 30 minutes while I went inside and enjoyed a frosty beverage.
Alternatively, you can use a 1500 watt hair dryer to warm everything up. Tufskinz says DO NOT use a heat gun, as this will likely affect the integrity of the materials.
STEP #2 – CLEANING THE SKID PLATE
After the kit and skid plate surface are warm, you will need to prep the skid plate area by wiping it with a 50/50 mix of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and water.
Dip a scratch resistant cloth (I used a Meguiar’s microfiber towel) into your solution and clean the surface thoroughly. Be sure to wipe the area dry immediately, and do not allow the cleaning solution to air dry. I went letter by letter, wiping each letter with the wet corner of the towel and then used a dry corner of the same towel once I was done cleaning that letter.
(Note: If you have had your rig or the skid plate detailed with Amor-All or any other silicone based products, you will need to repeat this cleaning process 2-3 times to remove the silicone, or the adhesive won’t stick.)
STEP #3 – DRY FIT
Once the skid plate is clean and dry, quickly dry fit the pieces to ensure proper fit and placement.
STEP #4 – PEEL BACK ADHESIVE LINER
Once you have checked for fit, start to peel back the adhesive liner on the letters. Be careful.
The adhesive is very strong and it takes a little effort to get the liners off without getting your fingers stuck on the adhesive. Also, do your best to not touch the adhesive with your fingers, as they may leave residue on the adhesive and affect its performance.
STEP #5 – PRESS ON EMBLEMS
Once you have the liner removed, align your letter over the factory surface, slowly insert the letter into its place, and then firmly press on the emblem starting from the center and moving outward.
When inserting the letters use care as the emblems themselves are a bit floppy. As you place each portion of an emblem, you will need to slowly work around the rest of the emblem to get proper fit and alignment – this was particularly the case with the “R”, since it has more lines and angles to it.
It is important to be sure you have good alignment before you place each letter emblem and then carefully place it—remember the adhesive is very sticky, and the emblem is not likely going to come off easily once you place it, and if it does, there is a good chance it won’t stick as well again.
If you want, you can use a spray bottle to apply a light mist of clean water to the adhesive before placing the emblem to allow yourself to slightly adjust the letter placement.
The water is not necessary–I did not use it—but that means you will just either need the steady hands of a surgeon, a lot of patience, or some amount of “That looks good enough”.
Yeah, that looks good enough.
Once the emblems are on, there is not much to do in terms of keeping them fresh looking. Wash your rig when necessary. If you want to give your emblems a bit more love, Tufskinz recommends non-abrasive wax cleaners—just apply to a soft cloth and gently rub on the surface.
Other Decal Options and Final Thoughts
Much like the blackout emblem kit vs. Plasti-Dip debate, there are other, potentially less expensive, options out there on sites like eBay, and the decision is all about personal preference.
While I have not seen any of these in person and cannot attest to the actual quality, the products shown on those advertisement photos look thinner and not as precise as the Tufskinz, and while I have not had the kit long enough to test the guaranty, it is good to see Tufskinz apparently willing stand behind their product so wholeheartedly.
It is pretty hard to give a thorough review of a set of decals. The emblems look good, feel durable enough to withstand the elements, and make the skid plate stand out just a little bit. I have had friends actually ask me if I got a new skid plate after seeing it with the red lettering.
The emblems have seen some pavement but no trails yet. Honestly though, if I end up in a situation where the skid plate gets bumped to the point where the emblems get torn up, it is a pretty easy replacement. The Tufskinz 3-Piece Insert Kit is a pretty easy, and relatively inexpensive, way to add a pop of color to your TRD Skid Plate.