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  • Ultimate Protection with Top Tacoma Skid Plates: A Must-See Buyer's Guide

    by Ryan Horton April 29, 2024 11 min read

    Tacoma Skid Plates

    Tacoma skid plates are often an overlooked item, but what Tacoma skid plates are a must-have, and what brands are superior? Whether you’re blazing trails or navigating city streets, this guide zeroes in on the skid plates that provide top-notch protection for your Tacoma. Expect to uncover the essential features, installation tips, and our hand-picked skid plate recommendations.

    Key Takeaways

    • Skid plates are essential for protecting critical components of your Tacoma’s underside from hazards found on-road and off road; they cover areas including the engine, transmission, transfer case, rear differential, and fuel tank.

    • There are wide-ranging options for Tacoma skid plates, including full sets and individual options for a-arms, catalytic converters, and rear shocks, with materials like steel and aluminum offering different benefits in terms of strength, weight, and rust resistance.

    • When selecting skid plates, consider the material and finish, such as raw or powder coat, and compatibility with your Tacoma’s model year; installation is generally straightforward with bolt-on designs allowing for easy setup without vehicle modification.

    What are Skid Plates and Why You Should Consider them for Your Tacoma

    Skid plates serve as your Tacoma’s shield, forming a barrier between the vital components on your vehicle’s underside and potential trail hazards like rocks and ruts. Skid plates are built to perform in the toughest conditions. They’re not just for those who love to venture off-road. Skid plates can provide protection for your vehicle on the road, even if your Tacoma is mostly used for daily commuting.

    Wondering what components these skid plates protect? There’s a variety to consider. Separate skid plates are available to safeguard your Tacoma’s engine, transmission, transfer case, and rear differential.

    You can even get a fuel tank skid plate to prevent any damage there which is an excellent idea because a punctured fuel tank will end your day in a hurry..

    Many Tacoma owners tend to overlook skid plates, often deferring their purchase until it’s too late. However, rest assured, equipping your Tacoma with custom-made skid plates can prove to be a cost-effective investment that can pay for itself over and over again.

    Types of Skid Plates for Your Tacoma

    The world of skid plates offers a broad range of choices. One option is to get a complete set, typically comprising an engine skid plate, transmission skid plate, and transfer case skid plate. But that’s not all. There are also options for a-arm skid plates, rear differential skid plates, fuel tank skid plates, and more.

    How do you decide which ones to go for? A good place to start would be with a full skid plate package. Once you have that, you can determine if you need additional coverage based on how you use your Tacoma and the type of trails you explore. Even when your Tacoma is used mostly for daily commuting, these skid plates can continue to offer significant protection on the road.

    Front Skid Plate

    Serving as your Tacoma’s initial line of defense against trail hazards, the front skid plate safeguards vital parts such as the oil pan and lower radiator. It’s a staple for Tacoma and for a good reason. It’s the first area that comes into contact with potential hazards, so it makes sense to bolster protection there as an initial matter.

    C4 Front Skid Plate

    What’s great about Tacoma front skid plates is their bolt-on design. Many even come with oil drain plug and filter access ports. This means you won’t need to remove the skid plates when doing a routine oil change. Convenience and protection, all in one!

    Transmission Skid Plate

    Following the engine skid plate is the transmission skid plate, a vital tool to your Tacoma’s defense. Without a functioning transmission, you’re not going to get very far, and this skid plate ensures that you do. But it doesn’t stop there. It also protects other components such as cross members.

    Like the front skid plate, the transmission skid plate features a bolt-on design. This makes it easy to install and ensures a secure quality fit. It’s an investment in your vehicle that you won’t regret.

    Transfer Case Skid Plate

    The transfer case skid plate forms another key element of your Tacoma’s defense, shielding your transfer case as indicated by its name. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you’re planning on taking your Tacoma off-road, it can make all the difference.

    Many manufacturers offer their transfer case skid plates for those with a Tacoma exhaust reroute. This is a great option for those considering a Tacoma exhaust re-route or for those who have already re-routed their Tacoma exhaust.

    Fuel Tank Skid Plate

    A fuel tank skid plate becomes essential when considering the vulnerability of your fuel tank to damage, particularly from sharp objects that could potentially cause a puncture. It’s designed to protect your fuel tank from rocks and other sharp objects.

    CBI Gas Tank Skid Tacoma

    You might be thinking, “But my vehicle already has a stock fuel tank skid plate.” While that’s true for many Tacoma models, those stock skid plates tend to be lower quality, not as thick and have less coverage than an aftermarket skid plate. So, upgrading to a fuel tank skid plate can provide you with the extra protection that your Tacoma needs.

    A-Arm Skid Plates

    The a-arms of your Tacoma are frequently exposed and susceptible to potential hazards. To prevent this, you can outfit your Tacoma with a-arm or lower control arm skid plates. These wrap around your OE a-arms and help deflect rocks and other trail hazards.

    CBI A-Arm Skid Plates

    Think of it as a protective shell for your a-arms. It’s an extra layer of protection that can make a big difference when you’re navigating through rough terrain.

    Catalytic Converter Skid Plates

    Beyond being vulnerable to damage in the form of trail hazards, your Tacoma’s catalytic converters can also become theft targets. Catalytic converter shields or guards can deter thieves and make it much harder to steal.

    Cali Raised CAT Shield

    In most cases, the catalytic converter guards attach to the transmission or transfer case skid plate. This means you can add this layer of protection without having to make any major modifications to your vehicle.

    Rear Differential Skid Plates

    Considering the rear differential on a Tacoma is one of, if not the lowest point, its protection becomes essential. Tacoma rear differential skid plates protect both the differential and the third member.

    Having a rear differential skid plate can give you the confidence to tackle tougher terrains without worrying about damaging your rear differential.

    Rear Shock Guards

    The rear shocks on the Tacoma mount to the axle and can often get damaged on rocks. In addition, rocks can kick up and mark the lower half of your shocks. Tacoma rear shock guards provide protection for the rear lower shock mounts, preventing damage.

    These guards bolt directly to the rear lower shock mounts and are a cost-effective way to protect a high-dollar part.

    Material Choices: Steel vs. Aluminum

    The choice of material in skid plates significantly impacts their effectiveness. The primary materials used are steel and aluminum, each presenting its own set of advantages. Aluminum skid plates are significantly lighter, which can be an important consideration for a Tacoma owner.

    On the other hand, steel skid plates are generally stronger than aluminum and have better impact resistance. Aluminum doesn’t rust, making it a top choice if rust is a concern. If you’re more price-sensitive, steel might be your best option as it’s typically cheaper than aluminum.

    Finishing Options: Raw or Powder Coat

    Having chosen the material for your skid plate, your next consideration is the finish. All steel skid plates will need to be coated to prevent rust and corrosion. You can opt for a raw finish or a black powder coat on both steel and aluminum skid plates, with most manufacturers offering both options.

    If you want to customize the color of your skid plates, you can order them with a raw finish and have them powder-coated locally. This way, you can match the skid plates to your Tacoma’s color scheme or choose a unique color for a custom look.

    Top Tacoma Skid Plates

    Given the wide range of skid plates available in the market, selecting the right one for your Tacoma can be quite challenging. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the options and picked out the top Tacoma skid plates for your Tacoma. When considering which one to choose, it’s important to understand the material used in terms of thickness and also weigh your finish options.

    Moreover, some companies only offer certain skid plates and not a complete set. So if you’re looking to complete your setup with every option and want the same brand, that’s one consideration. Let’s jump into our top picks and see what each one has to offer.

    C4 Fabrication Tacoma Skid Plates

    C4 Fabrication has long been known for its Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner front and rear bumpers which impress on quality and functionality. C4 also offers a range of skid plates designed specifically for the Toyota Tacoma that are in line with the quality and functionality many associate with C4 Fabrication.

    C4 Tacoma Skid Plates

    C4 Fabrication offers full skid plates (engine, transmission, and transfer case), fuel tank skid plates, and rear differential skid plates for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gen Tacoma. Their quality stands out, and they even come with integrated ports for accessing oil drain plugs and filters.

    C4 does not offer their skid plates in aluminum, and they also do not offer them with a powder coat finish. However, their full skid plates are constructed from 3/16 inch steel and feature a 100% bolt-on design. This makes them a durable and convenient option for Tacoma owners.

    RCI Offroad Tacoma Skid Plates

    RCI Offroad offers a slew of skid plates for many popular vehicles including the Tacoma along with other products such as bumpers, bed racks, roof racks, and more. All RCI products are proudly made in the USA by some of the most skilled fabricators.

    RCI Tacoma Skid Plates

    RCI has one of the largest offerings of skid plates for the Tacoma. In addition to their full skid plate package which includes an engine skid plate, transmission skid plate, and transfer case skid plate, RCI also offers fuel tank skid plates, rear differential skid plates, a-arm skid plates, rear shock mount guards, and catalytic converter guards.

    RCI offers many of their skid plates in aluminum or steel and an optional powder coat depending on your desired look. This gives you the flexibility to choose the material and finish that best suits your needs and preferences.

    Cali Raised Tacoma Skid Plates

    Cali Raised LED is a leading manufacturer of quality products that include skid plates, roof racks, bed racks, lighting, and accessories. Their fabricated products are made in Texas.

    In terms of Tacoma skid plates, Cali Raised offers a front skid plate designed to protect the engine, lower radiator, and more. In addition, they offer a transmission skid plate transfer case skid plate, along with a full skid plate package which includes all three in addition to lower control arm skids and a fuel tank skid plate.

    Cali Raised Tacoma Skid Plates

    For those needing to maximize their protection, Cali Raised also offers rear shock skid plates and their extremely popular catalytic converter guards.

    Cali Raised offers their skid plates in both steel and aluminum with the option to also receive them with a black powder coat finish.

    Talons Garage Tacoma Skid Plates

    Talons Garage is the newest company on the list, but don't discount them in any way. Their US-made skid plates are growing in popularity and some that you should add to your review. They have been known for their catalytic converter guards, but also have a full line of skid plates that are also available individually.

    Talons Garage Tacoma Skid Plates

    Talons Garage offers its skid plates in either 3/16 inch steel or 1/4 inch aluminum with the optionality of a black powder coat finish. For added strength, Talon offers optional reinforcing ribs on their transmission skid plates.

    All Talon's skid plates come with button head Allen screws and you also have the ability to order their security locking bolts which deter theft.

    Rival 4x4 Tacoma Skid Plates

    Rival has been manufacturing aluminum bumpers since 2013 and at the same time has been developing an impressive offering of skid plates for a range of vehicles including the Toyota Tacoma. They offer engine skid plates, transmission/transfer case skid plates, lower control arm skid plates, and gas tank skid plates. In addition, Rival is developing 2024 Tacoma skid plates.

    Rival Tacoma Skid Plates

    Rival does not offer their skid plates in steel, but they do offer them in 1/4 inch aluminum alloy. However, their design differs from some of the other aluminum skid plates we have reviewed in that they are deep stamped. This gives the Rival skid plates added structural integrity as compared to a flat skid plate.

    Another noteworthy thing when it comes to Rival's Tacoma skid plates is their weight. The engine skid plate only weighs 25 lbs. with the transmission and transfer case skid only weighing 37 lbs. This makes Rival's full skid plate package one of the lightest on the market. Their gas tank skid and lower control arm skid plates are equally impressive when it comes to weight.

    CBI Offroad Tacoma Skid Plates

    CBI Offroad has a strong reputation for producing quality components that add functionality and are designed to impress. This is especially true for their Tacoma bumpers and Tacoma skids.

    CBI Tacoma Skid Plates

    CBI offers skid plates in both steel and aluminum with the ability to order them in a bare finish or powder-coated finish. CBI Tacoma full skid plates include a front and rear skid plate designed to protect the engine, transmission, and transfer case skid plate. CBI also offers a fuel tank skid plate and lower control arm skid plates to complete their offering.

    For those with or who are considering a Tacoma exhaust re-route, CBI Offroad offers the option to order skid plates that will accommodate such. In addition, CBI offers their skid plates with a powder coat black or TRD grey powder coat.

    Installing Tacoma Skid Plates

    Each of the Tacoma skid plates reviewed in this article showcases a bolt-on design, facilitating an easy installation process within hours, with zero modification required for the vehicle.

    The bolt-on design with no vehicle modification allows you to get back on the road in no time. All Tacoma skid plates come with hardware to complete the installation that installs directly into factory locations. In addition, many come with a step-by-step guide to walk you through the installation process.


    With a plethora of skid plates available for your Tacoma, choosing the right ones might seem overwhelming. But with the right information at your disposal, it becomes a much easier task. We’ve covered everything from what skid plates are and why they’re important, to the different types available and the top options on the market.

    When choosing a skid plate, remember to consider factors like the material, finish, and the specific parts of your Tacoma that you want to protect. And remember, when it comes to protecting your vehicle, investing in quality skid plates can pay off in the long run. So, gear up, choose the right skid plate, and let your Tacoma conquer the trail ahead with confidence!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are skid plates and why are they important for my Tacoma?

    Skid plates are important for your Tacoma because they act as a shield, protecting vital components from trail hazards like rocks and ruts, making them a smart investment for all Tacoma owners.

    What are the different types of skid plates available for my Tacoma?

    You can choose from a range of skid plates for your Tacoma, such as front, transmission, transfer case, fuel tank, a-arm, catalytic converter, rear differential, and rear shock guards. Full skid plates are also available which generally include an engine skid plate, transmission skid plate, and transfer case skid plate.

    What is the difference between steel and aluminum skid plates?

    Steel skid plates are stronger and offer better impact resistance, while aluminum skid plates are lighter and resistant to rust. Choose based on your priorities and needs.

    What are the finishing options for skid plates?

    You can choose between a raw finish or a black powder coat for most Tacoma skid plates, depending on your preferences for customization.

    How are skid plates installed?

    Skid plates are typically easy to install with a bolt-on design, requiring no vehicle modification and allowing for installation within hours, providing quick protection for your vehicle.

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