Article and Photos courtesy of Off-Road.com and Pete Bach
We’ve made a lot of improvements to our ’07 Jeep JK Rubicon over the last three years. Some were major cutting-and-welding projects, while others were simple bolt-on replacement parts. Surprisingly, a few of the small, bolt-on parts, were some of the most valuable and useful components that we installed on the Jeep. Warrior Products has contributed once again to the strength and capabilities of our Jeep with its Steel Taillights.
We have ripped our factory JK taillights off on trees in the past. They stick out beyond the Jeep’s body, mount with two small screws, and beg to come in contact with trees and rocks. We had wanted a stronger, bolt-on replacement for these light boxes for years now, but we found nothing that addresses this issue well until Warrior contacted us with their solution – steel light boxes.
The Warrior Steel Tail Lights are a simple fix and nearly a direct replacement for the factory JK taillights; however, there are some very noticeable differences, especially in strength. The thick steel is a welcome material used in their construction. They are strong little units that sit more tucked in on the body lines of the JK. They would be much harder to hit on trail obstacles…and if they do, they appear as though they will hold up to a pretty hard hit.
Another great aspect of these light boxes is the way they mount. Rather than run a screw through a self-tapping tab like the factory did, Warrior made use of the existing two mounting holes but used larger nuts, bolts and washers to secure one side. The other side requires two holes to be drilled in the JK sheet metal, and then fastened with two more bolts. These light boxes are designed to be very stout and secure … and they are.
Before mounting the boxes up, some clearance issues need to be addressed to fit the new LED taillights into the Jeep’s body. While we didn’t blink an eye when the directions called for cutting the body, we believe that some Jeep owners might hesitate a bit in this area. Fortunately, the body area that needs the cutting remains behind the light boxes so it’s hard to mess this part up. Essentially, you only need to slightly open up the existing factory hole. Trust us; even with our shaky, Sawzall hands, the cutting is quick and easy … just don’t forget to spray a little primer or paint onto your freshly cut metal edges.
Once we had everything cut and ready to install, we wired up our new LED tail/stop lights and backup lights. Warrior offers their 4-inch tail/stop light and 2-inch backup lights separately and notes that you can use any light preferred, but we highly recommend using their lights. They are a perfect fit within their grommets, look great mounted up and are some of the brightest lights we’ve seen on a Jeep. Without the Instruction Sheet from Warrior, we would have been lost during this part of the install. The directions are well laid out, color-coded and detailed enough that we had no troubles in figuring out what went where. The Warrior light kit can even be ordered with load resistors that eliminate the fast blinker affect associated with the JK when making LED light modifications, which we also recommend purchasing.
Warrior offers three Steel Light Box styles to choose from. The style we chose has provisions for the 4-inch taillight and 2-inch backup light. A box with only a 4-inch taillight is available, as well as the Steel Light Box with no holes at all, for custom light placements and sizes. Pretty nifty!
After mounting was complete, we were not terribly happy with the way the light boxes looked with the rubber molding trim that fits between the box and Jeep body. The trim tends to bulge out after the bolts are tightened snuggly. We opted to remove the trim and squeeze a fine bead of black silicon into the seams instead. The light boxes form very well to the contours of the JK corners so very little silicon was used. We think they now look better than factory…and work better in every way.
If you are tired of tearing off your JK’s taillights or simply want a cool, custom look to the rear of your Jeep, check out Warrior Products Steel Taillights.
Article and Photos courtesy of Off-Road.com and Pete Bach
Warrior Products Jeep JK Tube Fender Flares Installation
After nearly 70 years of production, one would think that the designers at Jeep® would have perfected our beloved off-road vehicle by now. Well, take one look at the Jeep JK’s fender flares and you’ll quickly see that perfection is a long way off. The flares are just plain ugly, bulky, heavy and are easily ripped off on minor trail obstacles. Maybe they were an afterthought after a Jeep engineer’s nightmare!
We did have some fun modifying them to a more acceptable state in a previous installment – Sawzall Surgery. So, after a couple of years and a lot pretending to love our modified plastic flares, it was decided that they needed to go in favor of stout, metal replacements.
The problem we ran into was finding a flare that was good looking, functional and strong enough to take a fairly hard hit. We looked at aftermarket flares also made from plastic materials and were not satisfied with their construction or look. We then found more plastic and metal monstrosities that looked more like wings than tire coverage. After a lot of searching and coming up empty, we finally stumbled across Warrior Products JK Tube Fender Flares. These look like something we’d be happy with and they are just now being released in the market.
We checked out Warrior’s Web site for more information on the flares and company and found a statement that intrigued us: “At Warrior, our product design mantra is simple: Target a specific area of the vehicle; design a product that either protects and/or enhances the functionality of that area; construct the product concept with the best materials available; and then offer that product at the best value possible. We’ve been doing so since 1992.” We like this mantra, and we also like the fact that Warrior products are Made in America!
It wasn’t long after reading a little more about Warrior that our decision was made on which flares to run on our JK Project. Soon after, we began the Warrior Tube Flare installation. The front tube flares are very well designed and look all business. Tubing construction is .095-inch Wall, 1.5-inch OD HREW, while mounting plates are 11 gauge HRPO steel and the top skins are 16-gauge HRPO steel; these flares can take some abuse. Our only concern is that these rugged fixtures are still mounted to the JK’s thin sheet metal. So, the only real weak point is the JK’s sheet metal, so a very hard hit is likely to do some damage. And we mean a very hard hit. The flares are still very tough and sturdy!
The design of the flares is beautiful, as well as proportioned and fitted for very large tires. Their high-clearance, flat-fender design is exactly what we need and is what many JK owners are asking for. With these flares and minor trimming or bump stop adjustments, we suspect a mild three inch lift can accommodate 38-inch tires. A big concern for many, due to some state laws, is that full tire coverage is a requirement. With our 38.5 x 13.5 Pitbull Tires, our rears are legal in any state.
The front tires are covered as well but still leave about 2 inches of exposed tread, which we like. No more worries of red flashing lights in the rearview when running through the streets of Moab! To complete the package, we also received the optional LED side marker lights. These lights are also an issue of legality in most states, and Warrior has addressed them by manufacturing a mount to go along with these sharp little lights.
We have had more than a few comments and questions about the small, staggered welds that attach the top plates to the tubing. While a continuous weld would look pretty, it could also cause metal distortion. We are guessing that a continuous weld would also increase the price to manufacture these affordable tube flares by adding build and finishing time. The staggered welds suddenly don’t seem like such a bad idea, and along with a few questioning comments, we’ve had many more raving comments over the look of our flares.
Installation of the front flares was nothing more than removing the factory flares and bolting on the new Warrior flares. The factory mounting holes are used with a series of bolts, washers and nuts. Adhere the small strip of rubber trim to each flare and bolt them up! We had the fronts on in less than an hour with regular hand tools.
The rears were slightly more complicated. These flares mount higher up on the body but still bolt to the inner wheel wells and to factory holes. The directions call for each hole to be drilled out to 1/2 inch and to use the provided threaded inserts. This seemed to work well; however, we went a slightly different route by using 5/16th rubber expansion nuts. Why? Two reasons: We like the solid fitment that they provide and know that they will not wallow out of the JK’s sheet metal. We also like them for the ease of removal of the flares. We run many extreme trails with our JK, and by removing the flares it gives us less possibilities of severely damaging them. We like running the toughest trails with no flares for increased visibility
The left rear flare mounts very close to the fuel-filler ring. In fact, it mounts slightly over the ring. There is no fitment issue here, as the rubber trim forms around the plastic ring, but we plan to trim the factory ring for aesthetic purposes only. Much like the fronts, the rears are a simple bolt-on affair after drilling and took less than an hour to complete. (Note: We recommend using a Step Drill Bit (Unibit) when drilling out the factory bolt holes in the body. It will provide a more accurate and cleaner hole to work with, whether you use the provided aluminum threaded inserts or rubber expansion nuts.)
Installation was complete and we then debated on what to do with our wheelwell liners. In the end, it was decided to leave the rears out completely and paint the exposed wells black. The fronts were trimmed and reinstalled. We don’t think that water and debris would be problematic entering the engine compartment; however, we do think that it looks cleaner with the partial liners installed. Our Warrior Tube Flares look great! They’ve completely eliminated the huge roost we get while driving in rain and snow, and our windshield wipers are no longer constantly used while on wet roads. We are confident that they’ll withstand most trail abuse we can throw at them … and keep us legal while getting there.
Warrior has come up with a great product for JKs and a great American Made product that is in line with foreign made prices, which is rare these days. These flares should be at the top of any JK owner’s list of needs.
This last Easter Holiday I was hanging out in Moab, Utah for the Easter Jeep Safari 2009. On my third day out there I ran into Jim Piatt from Hoodlift. As he was showing me around his 07 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited I noticed that he had one of the ever so commonly smashed up license plate brackets. Being made from thin little plastic, it isn’t terribly surprising.
When prototyping was finalized on our new replacement bracket, I immediately thought of Jim and shipped one down to him. The new JK Replacement License Plate Bracket features a tough 11 gauge steel construction and a triple LED marker light to illuminate the license plate.
Jim recently sent me some images from his installation, which turned out great. The installation calls for the installer to line the bracket up into the desired location and mark holes for drilling. Normally the holes would be drilled for use with our bolts and nuts, but since Jim had a set of steel corner armor plates on the Jeep to give him some extra material thickness to work with, he chose to drill the holes undersized, and use thread tapping tools to create a threaded hole that he could simply bolt the bracket up to very easily.
Thread locking compound was also used to make sure that the new bracket stayed in place without the worry of any bolts coming loose.
The kit includes a piece of rubber edge trim that can be used, but because it fit so well, Jim decided it looked better without it.
This is the bracket all completely installed now. As you can see, the triple LED marker sits on top, and the bracket has four studs for the plate to slide onto. This bracket in 11 gauge will be much stronger than any plastic piece and with the black powder coated finish it is much more likely to survive your time spent out on the trails.
A big thanks go out to Jim Piatt and Hoodlift for supplying us with some great installation photography. I encourage everyone to go over to www.hoodlift.com and check out his products.