Review: BudBuilt Skids
Working out the skids at Windrock Park
Over the last few years I've been fortunate enough to wheel in a lot of different locations and terrains. And I've learned quite a bit. Probably the biggest lesson I've learned is the importance of armor.. Not only does it protect the most vital and expensive parts of the truck, armor also gives the driver a ton of confidence.
When I decided to armor up the undercarriage of the 200, I knew that I wanted to go with Budbuilt. They make some of the best, if not THE best armor in our community. On top of that, they are just great people. I ran a trail with Bud and his son, plus a few of the other Budbuilt guys, at ATR2020 and can say I don't think I've ever met a better group of men.
Budbuilt offers front, engine, transmission, transfer case, and fuel tank skids. They can be installed separately or all together. The skids are available in 4 different materials; 3/16" High Carbon Steel, 3/16" Stainless Steel, 1/8" (3.175mm) "Lite" Steel, or 1/4" (6.35mm) Aluminum Alloy. These materials are also available in raw, raw prepped for paint, or powder coated.
Raw Steel Engine Skid
I chose to do all 5 skids in the 3/16" High Carbon Steel because I do find myself from time on time on trails with fairly extreme rock gardens. I decided to go with the raw steel so I could sand and paint the skids myself. This saved a little money and I also prefer paint to powder coating as its easier to touch up. Stainless was a very attractive option but slightly out of my budget.
Primed Fuel Tank Skid and Painted Transfer Case Skid
I used an oil-based primer and an oil-based paint. I rolled it on thick and it took a week or two to fully cure, but in the end it made a very solid and durable coating. Although the paint is no match for sliding over rocks, it is very resistant to most other dings and scratches. The paint is also very easy to touch up with a brush or rattle can.
Skids Painted and Ready For Install
The install was straightforward with only one small cut/trim needed on a heat-shield to clear the transfer case crossmember. Otherwise, everything lined up perfectly. This was a pleasant surprise. In the past, I've installed skids from other companies on other trucks and those installs always seemed to require a certain level of cussing, prying, and finagling.
Heat Shield Before and After Trim
The skid system has removable covers that are reinforced and cut from the same material as the skids. This makes for easy access to the oil drain and oil filter. These covers are very beefy and sit flush with the skids, This great design makes maintenance a breeze.
Video of Installed Skids
A week after installing the skids, I was able to give them a good workout at the Great Smokey Mountain Trail Ride at Windrock Park in Tennessee. Last time I was at Windrock, the toughest trail that I ran was number 30. Its a fun trail with several rock gardens and a few tricky obstacles. I ran it with only factory skids back then and had to be really careful and still ended up crushing my factory gas tank skid. This time I was prepared with the new skids and wow, what a difference it made.
I found that I was much more confident with the new skids. Knowing that I had the protection really opened up new and more aggressive lines. I was really able to "attack" the trail. I had at least one really big hit that actually dented the steel plate behind the engine. If it wasn't for that skid my transmission would likely be toast. I had several other hits on the front skid, the transfer skid, and gas tank skid. They really did their job.
Dent Under Transmission
One thing I was very impressed with was the smoothness of the skid that gave me the ability to slide over rocks. In the past, I would get hung up on the factory skids and have to back up or drag across listening to horrible noises while praying that nothing was damaged. The ability to slide over rocks is a game changer and I just kept wanting more and more. I was thinking to myself "Bring it on!!" I was even able to complete an obstacle that I had to winch up the time before. Gotta love that.
Result of Rock Sliding on the Gas Tank Skid
So after a few days at Windrock, I'm extremely happy with these skids. The fit is great, the look is awesome, and the protection is extreme. On top of all that, the confidence they inspire just makes for a much better off-road experience. It's also nice to know they are built in-house by an American-owned family operation. Armor is one of the most important parts of any off-road build and I highly recommend these skids.
Ready for the Next Adventure