Victory 4×4 Off-Road Skid Plates Install + Product Overview For the 5th Gen 4Runner
My ideology when building an Overland / Off-Road build was first to protect my vehicle and to be able to get out of any situation if needed.
After installing my Victory 4×4 front bumper with a winch to ensure that I can get out of a stuck situation, rock sliders and skid plates were next to protect my vital components.
The TRD Off-Road 4Runner model does come with a skid plate package and is their factory standard sheet metal. And, although it’s good for protecting against minimal damage, it won’t hold up to an aluminum or steel skid plate.
While I have not hit the skid plates overly hard, I have hit one of the support brackets. I knew it was time to upgrade at some point.
Your factory 4Runner skid plates can take a lot of abuse off the lot but with a set of aftermarket steel or aluminum skid plates, you can push it a little harder through the trail knowing that you are “that much more” protected.
Rock Damage to Factory Support Bracket
There are many options out there for skid plates.
I wanted to have solid protection while also keeping the weight down. This led me to decide that I wanted to go with aluminum skids since they’ll provide adequate protection and add on minimal weight.
I do live in the desert so I will not intentionally go rock crawling.
In my opinion, there are two things that break vehicles quickly. That would be:
- Large Rocks
Victory 4×4 Skid Plates Laid Out & Ready For Install
I had done a large amount of online research, and after spending a few days at the Overland Expo West, it became much easier to make a decision on which skid plates to go with. It is awesome to have such an event that allows you to not only see the products but to also see them on 4Runners.
After much consideration and comparison of my top candidates from my online research, I choose to go with Victory 4X4.
They stood out to me for being a smaller company, offering quality products at decent prices comparable to larger name companies. Victory 4×4 also promises a much shorter turnaround time than the other companies I was considering buying from.
I decided to go with full skids.
The setup on my 4Runner includes:
- Engine Skid Plate
- Transmission Skid Plate
- Transfer Case Skid Plate
- Gas Tank Skid Plate
- Blitz Front Bumper
- Blitz Rock Sliders
- Check Prices on all their 4Runner products
If you haven’t already, check out the Victory 4×4 Blitz Front Bumper install that’s currently on my 4Runner.
While the shipping times were only a week after being quoted a price, it was still earlier than the quotes I got from other companies.
However, I was missing the transfer case skid plate and some other hardware parts which after a quick call was delivered a week later. I was impressed with the packaging as it boxed in a foam that completely protected the skid plates.
I know these are going underneath my 4Runner, but I still appreciate quality craftsmanship.
Miss Cuts in Victory 4X4 Logo
And while they’re very solid, they did have a few cosmetic flaws that bugged me for the amount I spent on them. For instance, the cool logo; which is “V for Varney”; was melted in some of the corners.
Also, the welds were a bit globed up. I’m no welder but it seemed like a bit much.
Large Welding Globs
I ordered these in raw aluminum with the protective finishing coat, but I didn’t think they were going to have large welding globs as you see in the photo above.
However, there are plenty of DIY options for adding on a protective finish for a clean polished look.
Installing the Front Skid Plates
The skids are raw aluminum which is great because they will not rust, however, they will oxidize.
There are a few options depending on preference to protect the finish. Me, I chose to paint them black. I started by wiping them down with alcohol to remove all the grease and welding burns. Then I used some flat black spray paint that I had in the garage.
Now entering my first problem with this install… Heat.
It was the middle of Summer in Southern Arizona, so even after waiting until it was dark, the low temperature was still over 100 degrees.
The paint was essentially drying before it even hit the surface which left a sandpaper finish… So that was a no go.
Luckily life happened and the project got shelved until September. Then, the Fall hit so the temperature started to dip low enough to paint. By then, I decided to go over the spray paint with Rust-Oleum spray-on bed liner for a more durable finish.
Adding A Protective Finishing Coat
I used the Rust-Oleum for affordability and decent reviews.
The finish came out reasonably well with just a little time and effort.
Note: I would not use it as an actual truck bed liner or anything that is visible as it is still soft. But I can always hit spots with a touchup can. Speaking of can, I can’t believe the size of this can, it’s like the 40oz can to a normal can of beer.
Interlocking Engine, Transmission and Transfer Case Skids
The Stock engine and transmission came off very easily.
For this post, I will be sharing an overview of my install, but check out Victory 4×4’s install videos on their website.
At first, this install seemed very straightforward and easy to do from what I saw on their video.
Honestly, it was a pain in the ass and I felt cutting up my front bumper and installing their winch bumper was easier. Come to find out that “bolt-on” does not always mean easy.
The engine skid went on easy using the stock front bolts, however, it did not match with the Transmission skid. I am not sure why and even after sending many images and talking with their tech guy they had no idea why either.
They did offer replacements and that is stand up of them, however, I thought it would be a waste and would only do it as a last resort.
Engine and Transmission Skids Not Lining Up
My fix for this was to find out what seems straight and what couldn’t move due to factory bolt locations.
And after a full day of installing and uninstalling the set of three plates, I came up with an easy fix…
The transmission couldn’t move due to the factory bolt locations locking it into place, so I figured that the front locations where about an inch off where they should be.
So I marked the location and drilled new holes. I don’t have the skill to be able to cut a straight line without messing the whole plate up, so screwing in the front was a challenge while holding the plate up at the same time.
New Holes Drilled for Front of Engine Skid
The next issue was bolting the rear of the engine and front of the transmission to the cross member.
You are supposed to drop the reinforcement plates into the member align them over the holes, which isn’t hard. Then you’ll need to drop the bolts in using a long screwdriver to line them up, which is easy.
However, the problem is trying to hold the nut while tightening the button head screw. I had to remove the skids because I dropped one of the nuts and the only way to get it back is by using the large holes that get covered up by plates.
I wish I could say that this only happened once… but it did not!
An easy fix would have the nuts tack welded onto the plates so they could not get lost which would have saved me hours. They did this on the plate that connects the transmission and transfer case skids.
Once that was over, the install was pretty straightforward from there.
The next issue was the fitment between the transmission and transfer case skids. There is a ¼” lip between the two that can get snagged onto rocks, and yes, I have it torqued down all the way.
Transmission and Transfercase Skids Not Level
To get the factory skid plates off, you’ll need to remove part of the front bumper.
It covers the bumper gap and protects the bottom of the radiator. To remove the factory skids, loosen the button bolts on the front bumper.
Gap Filler Mounted Under Bumper
There is almost no way to hold onto the two center nuts, even from the top engine compartment because my winch was in the way.
A Trick Not To Lose Your Nuts
There is a very thin slot that an open-ended wrench can fit. I had to cover with plastic wrap so it wouldn’t fall off.
Installing Rear Skid Plates
I watched the gas tank skid video they had online 5 times to make sure I had it right. And it looked easy…
Well, it wasn’t!
The 1st issue was kind of my own. I could not get to one of the bolts that were blocked by the driveline.
After watching the video a few more times, I realized that they were using a lift and that the suspension was hanging while I was using ramps on the rear tires and actually compressing the suspension forcing the driveline up. I used a jack on the frame and made some more room. Done.
Ramped and Jacked to Get the Gas Tank Skid In
The skids fit on snug to the tank which is a good thing as you gain a bit more clearance. However, I had to move one of the brackets near the rear tire to the outside of the skid so it would match up to the factory bolt.
In the video, they mention that the skid plate kit includes 13mm bolts and to ignore the fact they are using washers. However, I received 12mm bolts without washers. After a trip to ACE, I was able to reinstall all the bolts.
12mm Bolt to Small For the Plates Holes
The final issue with the gas tank skid was it was coming into close contact with the tank.
I installed it with a loose fit and tried to push it over, pound it over and then use an ax handle to lever it over a whole 1/10”.
Fingernail Clearance From Plastic Tank to Sharp Corner of Skid
Another concern I had was that the stock skid had a large shield that protects the front of the 4Runer from rocks.
Factory vs Victory 4X4 Skid Plates
However, once installed, I think it works just fine as the transfer skid extends far back enough that the rocks would be able to hit the gas tank.
Not Too Concerned with Rocks Getting Kicked Up Now
While this was my first install, this process seemed way harder than advertised. Victory 4X4 is a quality company, but I feel these skids are not meeting that quality.
I hope that my installation is a unique experience and others don’t have the same issues.
Perhaps the softer aluminum caused more issues by deformation in manufacturing… I don’t know. If it was any other part besides skids that’ll get beat up anyways, I would have returned them.
What I do know is that Victory 4X4 would do whatever it took to make it right as they do stand behind their products, which is great. With my many phone calls with them, they never blamed me and did everything they could to offer assistance.
In the end, they are perfectly functional and robust.