Increase Your Engine Protection With a CBI Aluminum Front Skid Plate: Install and Review for the 5th Gen 4Runner
If you’re like me, the owner of a TRD Off-Road, or perhaps an SR5, our 4Runners come with fairly thin steel skid plates (1/16″ thickness, at most).
When it comes to engine protection, these are certainly better than anything plastic like in modern vehicles. However, all it takes is one decent-sized rock to put them out of service. The TRD Pro skid plate option is one of the most popular and is made of 1/4″ aluminum. The one major drawback of this option is that you need to completely remove it for every oil change; there are no access doors and the mounting bolts are notorious for stripping out. This leads to either yourself or a shop needing to cut the bolts out of your frame… no good.
I know there are tons of options in the way of aftermarket skid plates for the 4Runner, with a wide range in coverage and price, there is certainly something for everyone, whether it be the OEM or aftermarket.
Below, I will cover the CBI skid plate install and explain why I decided to go with the aluminum option.
Find it Online:
CBI Front Skid Plate (Aluminum)
CBI offers a full suite of underbody protection for the 5th gen 4Runner that includes the front/mid-engine, transmission, and gas tank. All of these are offered in either steel or aluminum and powder coated or bare metal for the DIY’ers. The steel options are all made of 3/16″ steel (3x’s thicker than the TRD Off-Road and SR5 plates). I opted to purchase only the front skid plate in bare aluminum and have a friend prime and finish it in bed liner.
The aluminum variant is also 1/4″ in thickness, like the factory TRD Pro skid plate. The advantage here is that it covers far more surface area and has access doors for oil and oil filters. This means that you can easily change your oil without having to remove the entire skid plate, which was the main drawing point for me.
When comparing against the factory skid plates of the lower trims, the CBI front skid will cover the same area as the two separate pieces that come installed. It weighs in at 50lbs vs the 85lbs of its steel counterpart.
When it comes to deciding on steel vs. aluminum, there are a few key considerations:
- Weight Savings – Aluminum is around 40% lighter than steel.
- Protection Level – Aluminum is plenty for ruts and mild trails, however, steel offers more protection against the big hits for even moderate rock crawling.
- Price – Aluminum will usually run a bit more, however, the fuel savings from lesser weight and potentially avoiding suspension upgrades to deal with the weight of steel could offset that investment.
Tools & Materials
- CBI supplied carriage bolts, washers, and nuts
- Re-purposed 14mm bolts (4)
- Re-purposed 12mm bolts (2)
- 10mm, 12mm, 14mm sockets & socket wrench
- 6″ socket extension bar
- 3/4″ wrench
- 3/16 hex key
Step 1. Remove Front Plastic “Skid”
There will be four (4) 10mm bolts that will need to be removed for this portion. There is also one (1) pop clip in the center and can be removed with a flathead screwdriver.
Step 2. Remove Front Engine Skid Plate
There will be four (4) 12mm bolts that will need to be removed for this front skid portion.
Once all bolts are out, the skid will be held up towards the front and can just be slid forward for removal.
Step 3. Remove Rear Engine Skid Plate
Now, remove the 12mm bolts identified in the picture above. The two towards the front will require the 6″ socket extension bar in order to reach them. Set two (2) of these bolts aside as you be re-using them for the CBI skid plate.
Step 4. Remove Front Braces
In order to remove the front braces, remove six (6) 14mm bolts. Set four (4) of these bolts aside as you be re-using them for the CBI skid plate.
Step 5. Line Up Skid Plate with its Corresponding Mounting Holes
With the OEM skid plate and braces removed, it’s time to align the new skid plate with the corresponding mounting holes. With the aluminum skid plate, this step is manageable solo. However, steel will be more challenging without a second set of hands.
Step 6. Install 14mm Bolts in the Center Recessed Mounting Points
You will need to use a 6″ socket extension bar to install these. Loosely install these bolts, but do not tighten them completely.
Step 7. Install Front Mounting Bolts
From left to right, holes one and three will use 14mm bolts, whereas holes two and four will use 12mm bolts.
Step 8. Install Rear Carriage Bolts
The mounting holes will be the square ones on the rear of the CBI skid plate. These 1/2″ x 3.5″ carriage bolts will go up through the frame brace and be secured with a washer and serrated nut using a 3/4″ wrench.
Tighten All Bolts and Nuts
Once the skid plate and all bolts are in place, tighten down all six (6) front bolts and two (2) rear carriage bolt nuts.
Step 9. Install Access Doors if Needed
If the oil and oil filter doors need to be installed or tightened, do so by utilizing the 3/16 hex key.
I love the way this skid plate install turned out! I may be with the unpopular opinion that a black skid plate gives the underbody protection an understated look vs. the bright TRD pro grey (especially with red lettering). In the end, it’s your rig and you should ultimately choose whichever look appeals to you – there is no such thing as a “wrong” look!
I’ll admit, I’m not going to make it a goal to put this skid plate to the test as my rig is still pretty much brand new and still a family hauler. However, the aesthetics and peace of mind over the thin steel ones that came installed are a welcomed addition.
I now have the confidence that I am protected at least in this underbody section from something more substantial than branches on the road. There are two large mesh-covered breather holes on the stock skid plate that always made me paranoid that a freak accident would send something right through those and cause damage. But, I digress…
I would love to hear what options you all are running, or even why you choose to stick with what came installed from the factory! Leave a comment below. Thanks guys!