As the external layer to your car’s undercarriage, skid plates are crucial to keeping your vehicle safe. Not only do they cover your vehicle’s base framework, but they also absorb shocks and impacts from external elements. As a result, you can ensure that your car’s underbody components don’t have to encounter unnecessary damage on the road.
Apart from preventing damage, skid plates also help you steer clear of unwanted repair expenses. At the same time, they allow you to mitigate safety risks as well. But there are instances when this protective shield falls to external elements itself. That is what leads you to deal with skid plate damage.
That is correct. While skid plates are built to hold their own against hits on the road, they can also get damaged due to a number of issues, specially on lowered cars. It can sometimes happen through overtime impact from obstructions such as stones or branches. But it can also take place due to sudden hits of excessive force from jagged pathways and tough potholes. In other instances, this damage arises out of issues that come with overtime usage.
Similar to the harm that can come to other auto body parts, this damage to skid plates is not always at the same level. Since it ranges across minimal to excessive harm, the problem can sometimes get fixed by slight repairs or may need a complete skid plate replacement for the issue to be resolved.
If you drive a car regularly like most vehicle owners, then you are bound to stumble upon a damaged skid plate sooner or later. The situation can be troublesome. But it’s important to remember that it is not impossible to resolve. As long as you keep a few points in mind, you will be able to breeze through the issue as quickly as possible.
Catch Skid Plate Damage Before It’s Too Late
The first step to resolving any damage to your skid plates is quickly identifying the problem. This may sound tricky due to the simple reason that skid plates are installed on your car’s underbody, which is a part that’s not usually visible to the regular gaze. However, this is where you make use of regular and timely inspections to counter the problem of hidden harm to skid plates.
Inspect Quickly After Experiencing Impacts During the Drive
Typically, a damage skid plate can be identified during a drive itself. Whenever you have had a particularly hard impact against any obstruction on the road, it’s your skid plate that gets hit first.
After such an instance, you should quickly examine your car’s underbody to see if its skid plates have been damaged. This helps you find and resolve the problem before it gets too big to handle. Since doing so only takes a minute or two of your time, making this a regular practice is not difficult at all.
Inspect If You Feel You Have a Dragging Skid Plate
Sometimes, skid plate damage is not due to a sudden impact, but caused by gradual hits. In such cases, you are not able to identify if your skid plates have been damaged until it’s too late. This happens when you feel a loosened or partially detached skid plate dragging along the road as you drive your car.
If you can detect a vibration or hear the sound of something dragging along your car as you drive, you should immediately take a look at your vehicle’s undercarriage. More often than not, the issue resides within your skid plates and can be detected immediately.
Inspect on a Regular Basis
The best way to identify damaged skid plates in a timely manner is to make regular inspections a practice. By doing consistent checks on your car’s underbody every few days, you can ensure to identify any damage that your vehicle has sustained during your drives.
This helps you keep your car in ideal form and lets you identify issues through all major components such as your skid plates. This approach allows you to steer clear of repair issues that grow with time, and keeps your costs and worry at bay.
This takes care of catching skid plate damage. But whenever you encounter damaged skid plates, it is also important to discern the level of harm that you are dealing with. Since assessing the level of damage is directly related to the time and costs it takes for repair or replacement, it is the most crucial step in getting your vehicle back to optimal shape. Once again, it doesn’t take much out of your time, but it ensures that you are able to resolve the issue in a timely manner.
Identify the Type of Damage
When it comes to identifying the type of damage in skid plates, you need to consider a few factors at all times.
- Different skid plate materials are not damaged the same way.
- All damaged skid plates do not need to be replaced.
- Not every type of damaged skid plate is repairable.
With these points in mind, let’s go ahead to see how to assess the damage your skid plates are dealing with.
This is the most common type of damage that is sustained by all types of skid plates. It comes from encountering obstructions such as potholes and objects such as stones. This kind of damage can come in multiple forms and cause issues such as dents, cracks, and breakage.
Impact Damage in Metal Skid Plates
If you have a metal skid plate, then resolving impact damage can be easy for an auto body expert or a professional mechanic. This is especially true if the damage is minimal and has not gotten to the point of breakage. Dent repair and welding procedures can be highly helpful in resolving this kind of skid plate damage.
Impact Damage in Plastic Skid Plates
If you have a plastic skid plate, then impact damage poses a trickier outcome. Unlike metal skid plates, plastic skid plates cannot be molded via grinding or welding. While some specialized procedures may get the dents out, they don’t always work to restore your plastic skid plate back to its former shape. More often than not, the best way to resolve this is to replace your skid plate altogether. Since plastic skid plates are being used by popular car manufacturers, finding replacements is not as difficult as it was a few years ago.
This type of damage is only seen in steel skid plates, which are fairly common - especially in older vehicle models. When not treated right away, rust damage can weaken the skid plate material and cause it to loosen overtime. It also makes the skid plate prone to breakage and affects its ability to protect your car effectively. In cases where rust goes beyond the surface level, your skid plate may start forming holes within it and go to the point of no return.
With this in mind, make sure to seek professional advice as soon as you find rust on your skid plate. In some cases, your mechanic might be able to grind the surface level rust and make your skid plate good as new. In instances where rust has gone beyond control, you will need to replace your skid plate in order to keep your car and undercarriage safe.
When it comes to gradual damage, it’s easy to conflate rust damage with corrosion damage. But while both of these phenomena eat away at the metal material, it is important to understand that they are both different at their core. For one, rust only affects steel skid plates; whereas, corrosion can also affect aluminium plates. This is what makes corrosion such a widespread type of damage for these protective underbody shields.
Skid plate damage that results out of corrosion can also weaken the metal material of these plates. If an aluminum skid plate falls to corrosion, it can gradually lose its strength to absorb impacts. Overtime, this affects the level of protection that you expect from your skid plate. Thankfully, corrosion damage can be repaired through experienced professionals. If you notice that your aluminium skid plate has gray or white scale-like material forming on top of it, usually by its sides, it is a sign of corrosion. Make sure to contact your mechanic to help you resolve the issue right away.
What Kind of Damage is Repairable?
Repairing skid plates is as much dependent on the level of damage as the type of damage itself. For instance, if your skid plate broke due to excessive rust, then it would most likely break again even after being welded together. But if the rust was contained to surface level or a small area, then your mechanic will be able to repair the skid plate for you.
The situation also gets a bit more challenging when the types of damage overlap. For example, when a skid plate that cracked due to impact damage also has corrosion damage, there is more than one type of problem at play. In such situations, only a reliable professional can tell you what to do after taking a look at your specific case.
Where to Get Skid Plate Repairs?
Skid plate damage can be resolved by a number of professionals, especially those who specialize in auto body repairs. Your existing auto mechanic can also look into these issues for you. If they are not able to solve the problem by themselves, they can refer to you experts who can.
Depending upon the type and level of damage you are dealing with, a professional can either get your skid plate repaired or give you a recommendation to buy a new one. In either case, you are able to fully resolve the problem and make sure that your car is protected through a sturdy and reliable skid plate installation.
For more info on the features, benefits, and pricing of skid plates, click here, alternatively, use our interactive map to find an authorized installer near you. If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog.