C4 Fabrication Differential Skid (KDSS) Install For Off-Road Rear Differential Protection + E-Locker Cover On the 5th Gen 4Runner
Due to the independent front suspension design on the 5th Gen 4Runner, the front differential can be lifted away from the rocks below by installing a lift and protected by a skid plate that can easily be upgraded.
Protection for the rear differential is more tricky due to the solid rear axle. The stock differential is fairly tough, or at least I am lead to believe that by the lack of photos of broken differential casings I can find online.
However, peace of mind to know that it’s not your bare differential when you hear rocks grinding on steel can be priceless for some. C4 Fabrication makes a differential skid that protects the rear differential, providing that peace of mind. The skid also has the option for an extra cover to protect the electronic locker, which is normally exposed enough to be taken out by a nefarious branch.
Find It Online:
- C4 Fabrication Differential Skid Plates (KDSS): Check Price
In this guide, I will be providing a guide on how to install the skid, as well as my thoughts on its performance after roughly a year of use on rough trails.
C4 appears to be the only company that makes a rear differential skid that is compatible with KDSS. I will show you how to install the skid on a KDSS equipped vehicle. It will be slightly different for a non-KDSS equipped vehicle.
PREP & PAINT SKIDS
All C4 Fabrication products ship bare steel with no option for powder coating.
You can choose to have the skid powder coated, but for an item that is going to see so much abuse in a less visible location, rattle-can paint is a better option, in my opinion.
Start by cleaning and degreasing the skid using your preferred solvents. Then, paint the skid. I’ve had great results with Krylon Rust Tough Semi-Flat Black paint.
What to buy?
I’ve been using it for all my metal painting projects and found that it goes on evenly without primer, dries quickly, and is about as durable a paint as you can get for a non-2 part paint.
Note: I tried another brand of paint before the Krylon that did not work out for me, so ignore the fact that some photos have a dimpled paint surface.
C4 FAB DIFF SKID HARDWARE REVIEW
Assuming you selected to get the optional locker cover, the kit will come with two pairs of carriage bolts, washers, and nuts.
The ⅜” carriage head bolts, washers, and flange nuts will be used to attach the locker cover.
The other ⅜” head carriage bolts, lock washers, and normal nuts will be used to attach the pinion clamp.
Install E-LOCKER COVER (Optional)
Install the locker cover by inserting the prior mentioned bolts through the differential skid and then through the locker cover.
Then, tighten everything down with the prior mentioned washers and flange nuts.
PREP PINION CLAMP NUTS
Once the skid is in place it will be very difficult to hold the bolts in place for the pinion clamp. To make this much easier, use some tape to hold the bolts in place, inserted upwards in the skid plate.
At this point, the skid plate is ready to install.
LOOSEN KDSS SWAY BAR BOLTS
Use a breaker bar to loosen both bolts holding the KDSS sway bar to the axle. Do not fully remove them.
REMOVE KDSS SWAY BAR NUTS
Now that the bolts are loosened, remove the two nuts holding the KDSS sway bar bolts in.
HANG SKID FROM BOLTS
Hang the differential skid from the exposed bolts as shown in the photo. Loosely tighten on the nuts.
INSTALL PINION CLAMP
Rotate the skid plate until it comes in contact with the front of the differential casing, also known as the pinion. Using the remaining lock washers and nuts, hold the skid plate in place using the provided pinion clamp.
Once the skid plate is held in place by the pinion clamp, fully tighten the bolts on the KDSS sway bar to 81 ft/lbs.
After installing the skid and after off-roading on some fairly rough roads, I have been very impressed with the results.
The skid plate provides two benefits:
- Protects From Hard Impacts On Rocky Trails
- Eliminates Rocks Catching With Unique Housing Design
First, it protects from impacts.
As mentioned before, the stock differential housing seems reasonably tough given that I cannot find any photos or stories of people breaking their rear differential housings.
…Or is that just because everyone that off-roads hard already has a rear differential skid plate?
However, I still think that the skid plate is worth it because I can know with confidence when I hear rocks grinding on steel that I’m not gouging up my differential housing.
Second, the stock differential housing surface has a number of areas that have a tendency to catch on rocks. This places extra force on the differential housing that can either slow you down on the trail or possibly cause damage to the housing.
The C4 fabrication differential skid has a long, smooth, angled design that is virtually “catch” free.
I’ve found that, since installing the skid, I am much less likely to get caught on rocks that the differential housing would otherwise provide some resistance for.
Overall, I would definitely recommend installing a rear differential skid if you plan on doing some more serious off-roading, both for the peace of mind and for the smoother surface that avoids catching on rocks.