IS SMARTBAR’S NEW UNDER VEHICLE ARMOUR UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?
Any off-road venture comes with an element of risk, which is why vehicle protection equipment such as bull bars, side rails and rear bars are so often the first products we fit to our pride and joy. Arguably, though, the most susceptible area to damage on your 4WD is its undercarriage. Whether you’re navigating rocky terrain, straddling ruts or simply passing through a river, it’s a fact of 4WDing that you’re inevitably, at some point, going to come across an obstacle that exceeds the limits of your vehicle’s ground clearance. While these under-vehicle impacts may not leave the cosmetic scarring of heavy pin-striping, the potential damage to the mechanics of your trusty 4WD can be devastating. Nothing takes a hit to your wallet like a hole in your sump or transfer case, especially when you don’t realise until it’s too late.
PROTECTING YOUR UNDERCARRIAGE
Bash plates, skid plates, under-vehicle protection, under-vehicle armour; whatever you want to call them, they are a solid investment to protect your vehicle and your hip pocket from unnecessary damage. Mounting to existing points along the vehicle’s chassis, an under-vehicle protection panel provides a first line of defence in shielding critical components of your 4WD from impact damage.
For a long time, steel was considered the only material strong enough to protect our 4WD vehicles. Then with some advancement in design, some aluminium options came along providing weight saving benefits while not compromising on strength. More recently, we are seeing the incredible properties of cross-link polymer. Polymer is proving a very viable material to a number of 4WD accessories. ARB offers a range of polymer SmartBar bull bars and its cross-link polymer Frontier long-range fuel tank has amply proven itself as a tough product capable of withstanding anything a track can throw at it from the ground up. ARB now has available the new cross-link polymer SmartBar Under Vehicle Armour to suit the Ford Ranger and Ford Everest.
WEIGHING UP YOUR OPTIONS
ARB has long offered steel UVP panels for Ford Ranger and Ford Everest (amongst a myriad of other vehicles). With the addition of SmartBar’s new polymer UVA, owners of these vehicles now have the choice of either steel or polymer protection options. You always need to remember that with many
4WD accessories, you are commonly taking weight off the car at the same time as you are potentially putting weight on. The weight of what you are removing should be subtracted from the weight of the accessory you are adding. At just 23 kilograms, the SmartBar UVA is a lightweight option.
The whole purpose of an under-vehicle protection panel is to sustain impact, which means to do their job, they are going to get bumped and scratched along the way. While many products on the market like ARB’s UVP offer a high-tensile and scratch-resistant finish, the undeniable fact is that a polymer panel will forever remain completely rust-free.
When choosing any brand of under-vehicle protection, it is worth considering its compatibility with other core accessories such as your bull bar, recovery points, fuel tanks, etc. The SmartBar UVA is compatible with ARB’s recovery points for the Ford Ranger and Everest and also works seamlessly with both SmartBar and ARB bull bars and ARB Frontier long-range tanks.
In addition to the innate strength provided by the manufacturing process of the crosslink polymer, SmartBar has incorporated a ribbed design for further structural integrity. Each section of the UVA is a considerable eight to ten millimetres in thickness. The compound of the polyethylene blend is not susceptible to breaks or cracks and is virtually incapable of melting! There are no risks to
operating DPF burns with a SmartBar UVA installed.
Made up of three individual parts, the UVA is designed for serviceability. Each piece can be removed easily to allow individual access to different parts of the vehicle for servicing.
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