Everything You Need to Know About Rock Sliders

Toyota Hilux

If you own a 4x4 Toyota Hilux and you want to protect it, you have probably already bought bull bars, side rails and headlight protectors, but one item that all 4x4's require are rock sliders. This is a metal rod that rests between the front and back wheel of your vehicle and protects your rocker panels from debris and rocks. They also server as a good pivot point when manoeuvring over obstacles and can be a stepping surface when you want to enter or exit your Toyota. But before you go looking for Hilux rock sliders for sale, you need to look at the factors that make the best rock sliders.

Material Types

The best materials for sliders would have to be 1020 DOM and 1020 HREW, they are intended for hard use.

HREW and DOM Steel

HREW and DOM refer to the processes, while 1020 refers to the materials properties (the grade of steel used in HREW&DOM is usually SAE 1020 mild carbon).

HREW (hot rolled electric resistance welded) tubes are economical, strong steel tubes, they are a good option for rock slider. DOM (drawn over mandrel) is stronger then HREW but that's why it's also more expensive. These types of steels are cold-worked and drawn over a mandrel, which makes them smoother and improves the steels molecular structure.

Choosing between HREW and DOM for your rock sliders is not that important, as both of them are strong (although DOM is a bit more resistant to abuse, thus being pricier).

Aluminium

Aluminium sliders are more expensive and more fragile then steel (mostly because steel is very accessible). Aluminium is not recommended for anyone who would like to do rock driving or climbing with their 4x4, as they can very easily bend from the pushing force of the rocks. If you don't plan on using your Toyota for heavy mountain riding and are okay with spending a bit more money, you should at least look for Aluminium UHMW.

Coatings

  • It is not advised to look for coated and painted Hilux rock sliders for sale, as no coat can withstand the rock abuse and they tend to be more expensive then uncoated rock sliders. Instead you should buy uncoated (since it is cheaper) rock sliders which you can coat and paint yourself.
  • Paint: The cheapest and best way to paint a rock slider is with a $1 bucket of paint. Why, you might ask? Well with the constant rocks hitting your truck, the paint will get chipped very often, so you will need to reapply it constantly. Buying expensive paint for a temporary problem is not the best solution.
  • If you want a bit more protection, you can go with hard bedliner coating. They also come in a variety of colours, but will not stand up to prolonged rock sliding. This is a better option for back country exploration or driving then just using paint, it will hold up for a longer period of time.
  • For best looking coat, powdercoating is the way to go. But this stunning, hard coating is still no match for a big amount of rock hits. To apply a powdercoat you will need special equipment that most people don't posses at home and car garages use this to their advantage. It is quite expensive and should not be applied if you plan to abuse your rock sliders.

Application

Rock sliders can be applied in a couple of ways, they can be welded or bolted to the body or the frame of the vehicle. They need to be fastened securely to your 4x4 for support when you're doing fast four-wheel drives or in case you flip your Hilux. If your car is flipped and stuck, you can use the rock sliders as a pivot point to attach a winch to them, and then pull the truck back down.

But you might be wondering should you bolt-on or weld your rock sliders? Well if you don't own a welder, then you will be forced to pay someone to weld them for you, or just bolt the rock sliders on. But to answer this question, we have to go deeper, since it comes down to more than just the possession of a welder.

Bolt-ons

If you want to apply bolt-ons you'll have to drill holes in the body of your Toyota. This is a permanent modification, as you cannot remove the holes after they have been drilled. Another thing to consider is the corrosion that might result from water sipping in through the holes. You can try and counter the corrosion with special paint that are waterproof, but you still will have to unbolt the rock sliders to check for both corrosion and dirt build ups.

By bolting the rock sliders you will also experience long term consequences and an overall lowered car value. If you plan on adding other accessories or removing your rock sliders you will be left with gouging holes in your vehicles body. And as much as this might not bother you, potential buyers might not be so fond of it, resulting in you selling your car for a lower price, or even not selling it at all.

In strength both welded and bolted rock sliders are equally sturdy, as long as the application process was done correctly.

Weld-on

Welded to the body

People usually don't weld their rocker protection gear on the body, but rather the frame. Those who do however do it custom, usually because the rocker has been modified due to corrosion and rust. Welded-on-body rock sliders can't be directly attached to the body of a non-unibody vehicle. On a body-on-frame ladder vehicles, both the body and frame are isolated from one another. So if you for exampled welded a rock slider on your body and then applied a straight stringer from the rocker to the frame, you'd lose the isolation – to prevent this you can apply rubber bushing in-between the body and frame.

Welded to the frame

Much like welding on the body, you would also need to prepare your frame before welding the rock slider on it. To achieve the maximum protection and use of your rock sliders (to be able to slide off rocks and over obstacles), they will need to be firmly attached to your 4x4 vehicle. The steel used to create most 4x4 frames is 3,17mm 4.76mm thick – if you were to weld a rock slider on a material of that thickness you would create a bit amount of stress on the frame, which could lead to cracks and damage. To prevent this you can weld the rock slider on special frame plates that can be attached over the frame, this will make the overall frame thicker and distribute the stress more evenly.

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