Custom Offroad Accessories

Underbody Protection

LandCruiser 200

Step-by-Step installation

As with most 4WDs, there are plenty of vital components under the 200, ready to be damaged by rocks or other offroad impacts. Unfortunately, Toyota's standard protection consists of light sheet-metal and plastic panels. These do a reasonable job of deflecting stones and mud, but do little to protect the underside from more severe impacts.

The 200's independent front suspension also makes the sump and front differential more susceptible to damage than 4WDs with a live front axle.

Underbody Protection (AKA 'Bash Plates')

The solution to keeping the underside intact is to fit underbody protection -otherwise known as bash plates- underneath the vehicle.

These plates are designed to be far stronger that the light factory panels, protecting the vital components under the vehicle from reasonable severe offroad impacts.

All plates are not created equal though, and there are several factors to consider when you're selecting underbody protection:

Strength: The protection system needs to be strong enough to prevent damage from a decent impact from what is a heavy vehicle. But it shouldn't be so strong that it risks damage to the mounting points rather than sustaining some damage itself.

Quality: As with most accessories these days, quality of design and manufacture varies greatly between the Australian manufacturers and the imported knockoffs. You get what you pay for.

Coverage: It needs to cover as many of the vital underbody components as possible.

Weight: For practicality and efficiency, you don't want a system that adds too much weight to the vehicle. This not only reduces useful load capacity by eating into the GVM, but also wastes fuel because you're lugging around excess weight.

Taking the above into consideration, I've chosen a 3-piece set from Custom Offroad Accessories in Sumner Park, QLD. The set replaces the factory sheet metal and plastic guards under the engine and front differential, plus the tube/sheet metal guard under the sump of the transmission. If you're happy to retain the factory transmission guard, you can just get the front 2-piece kit, but I recommend going with all three. At the time of writing, the 3-piece set costs around $530.00, and the 2-piece set costs around $400. The transmission guard is also available separately for around $200.

All kit components are made in Australia from folded 4mm stainless steel, which provides sufficient strength to protect the vehicle from impact, while only adding around 30-35kg of weight.




IMPORTANT

The "Installation" section should not be taken as instructions. It is simply a documenting of the procedure I followed for my own installation. No warranty is provided as to the accuracy of the information, and/or whether it applies in your situation or to your vehicle. If you're not qualified and/or don't have the correct equipment, get the bash plates fitted professionally.

  • There are potentially lethal dangers involved working under the vehicle.
  • There are potentially lethal dangers resulting from failure due to improper installation.

If you undertake your own underbody protection installation, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Equipment required 

  • 10 and 12mm sockets
  • Low-mid strength thread locking fluid (eg Loctite 222 or 243).

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Installation

Note: Unless otherwise stated, I used loctite on ALL bolts during the installation, adding additional security to cope with vibration.

Click images to enlarge

Step 1: Remove the original underbody plates

  • If you have an ARB bullbar fitted, remove the centre stone tray that runs back from the bullbar.
  • Remove the factory sheet metal plates under the engine/differential, plus the centre support for those plates, by undoing the 14 bolts as shown in the photo.
  • Remove the plastic panel under the rear of the engine, by removing the four retaining bolts.
  • Remove the four bolts retaining the factory gearbox protection plate, and remove the plate.




Step 2: Install the new protection plates

  • Use low-mid strength thread locking fluid (eg Loctite 222 or 243) on all bolts. Don't use high strength/stud lock, as the bolts need to be removed every 10,000km to change the oil and filter. If you prefer, you can use spring washers instead.
  • It's important to mount the main two engine plates in the correct order.
  • Fit the centre plate first, but do not tighten the mounting bolts.
  • Next, fit the front plate, ensuring that the rear mounting points sit between the rear plate and the chassis. See the photos. Once the plates are positioned correctly, tension the mounting bolts.
  • Next, fit the gearbox protection plate and tension the mounting bolts.
  • Finally, if you have an ARB bullbar, refit the centre stone tray.



Comparison and Completed Installation

(Click photos to enlarge)




Comments / Q&A