What Are Jeep Rock Rails: Do You Really Need Sliders?

When you look at your jeep, what do you see? A metal beast which appears to be pretty indestructible? Of course you do. It has probably never entered your head to consider your jeep might have a soft spot or could actually be vulnerable in places. That doesn’t mean it’s suddenly developed a heart overnight which will be broken if you don’t take it for a drive. That’s pushing anyone’s imagination a bit too far. But when you go off-roading along dirt trails or open terrain there are some parts of your jeep which are much more likely to get damaged than others.

If you’ve ever driven over stony ground and heard rocks pinging against the underside or on the paintwork, you’ve probably inwardly cringed and crossed your fingers, without letting go of the steering wheel, hoping they haven’t done too much damage. That’s where rock rails come in.

Stones and loose rocks can cause expensive damage. If you lose your grip on the steering wheel and accidentally smack the side of the jeep into a boulder or tree trunk, well, start counting the cost. If it hasn’t bent the bodywork too much and you can manage to get out of the jeep, that is. Yes, it really can be that bad. Installing jeep rock rails on your mean machine can prevent all that hassle and expenditure. It’s also a lot easier than you might think.

What are rock rails

Jeep rock rails (such as these ones below from EAG) are strips of black, strengthened, powder coated steel which are attached to a jeep’s rocker panels.

EAG Black Steel Upgrade Side Armor Rocker Guard Rock Slider Fit for 07-18 Wrangler JK 4 Door
  • Fits 2007-2018 Wrangler JK all 4 door models. Useful on both the factory and lifted vehicle.
  • Dual girder system provides maximum wheel-to-wheel protection for underside and rocker panel area from damaging impacts, keeps from catching on rocker panel and hanging up on obstacles.
  • Heavy-duty 2 inch diameter & 0.120 inch wall thickness tubes.
  • One-piece design. Dual stage powder coated textured black finish resist corrosion. .
  • Easy bolt-on installation. No drilling required.

Amazon prices last updated on 2022-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re not sure where the rocker panels are located, get out of the driver’s seat for a moment and close the door. Take a good hard look at the side of your jeep. The rocker panels are the section of bodywork which runs below the door and between the front and back tires. Covering the rocker panels with rock rails makes them much more robust and enables them to withstand a lot more off-road rough and tumble.

Types of rock rails

Before you rush out and purchase any old rock rail, take a moment to study what’s available on the market and to think which ones will best suit your current needs. You might also want to consider your future requirements and maybe those of any passengers you might have. Why?

If you or any of your passengers are not getting any younger, stepping up into a jeep can be a major strain on the knee joints. Whether you’re male or female being short on inside leg measurement can often be a hindrance too. You might want to take a look at jeep rock rails which incorporate a step. They really can make life getting into your jeep a lot easier for everyone. They also come in a lot of different designs. Get the right ones and you’ll add an extra and very attractive dynamic to the overall appearance of your Jeep.

Installing jeep rock rails

To install jeep rock rails on your jeep is a relatively simple procedure which, if you’re handy with a spanner, can be completed in a couple of hours or less. It can be quite useful if you can entice a buddy round to give you a hand. The promise of a couple of beers or a ride in the jeep when the job’s done is usually persuasion enough. If necessary you can always bribe them with the offer of letting them drive, but that really is a last resort option for when all else fails.

You don’t need to be a majorly skilled mechanic to be able to fit rock rails to your jeep. Rock rails basically just bolt straight on to the jeep’s rocker panels. They’ll come complete with all the instructions and the nuts and bolts needed for the job. Most manufacturers are also kind enough to include both fitting instructions and a video manual as well.

One thing you need to keep in mind is the distance between the ends of the rock rail and your tyres. If at some time in the future you’re considering incrementing the size of your tires for something larger and more aggressive looking, make sure there’s enough clearance space between them and the rock rails. If not you could end up burning more rubber than you ever intended. Believe it, rough terraining on slicks is really not the done thing.