Monday 19 June 2023

Gas Tank Skid Plate (aka Hopes and Prayers) Replacement.

Rust Never Sleeps, right? 

In the on-going saga of dealing with rust on a 24 year old Jeep, this project was dealing with a gas tank skid plate that had rust, no, rotted out completely. I have dubbed the skid plate "Hopes and Prayers", mostly because all that was holding my gas tank in the Jeep was hopes and prayers.
If you're reading this, you may be well aware that Jeep TJ gas tanks are all held in place by the very skid plate designed to protect them. Meaning that if the skid plate fails, the  tank falls out. I had noticed a crack in my plate last year, but it was minor and not something I was too concerned about at the time. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I was sitting on the lawn waiting for my sons bus to arrive, and I see this under the Jeep. A quick Amazon search and I had a "Amazon Warehouse Deal" (aka - small scratch on it) skid plate and strap kit on my driveway. 

I became a bus rider to work for a few days while waiting for the weekend a some nice weather to tackle the "one hour job". Well, it took six, but you know how these things go. 

To start, up on jack stands the Jeep went - note to self and anyone reading, get taller jack stands. Both rear tires came off, and then the fuel filler cup to free the filler from the body. 




From the drivers side, you should be able to reach in and disconnect the fuel line, vent line, and electrical connections. I was lucky enough that the rust hadn't destroyed the lines, and I was  able to get everything apart relatively easy. For a great tutorial video I highly recommend this video from Taboo Customs on YouTube.

To start you will need to support the skid plate and tank using a jack of some sort. I built a quick jack adapter out of plywood and some two by fours. I had to create a flat surface to carry the weight. It should go without saying don't be like me and do this with a nearly full tank.

The Jeep TJ has seven bolts holding the skid plate on the Jeep. Three in front  over the track bar (rest assured they can be reached with a ratchet and long extension) and four in the back. The confusing part in the back is that there are six bolts. Two of those hold the tank straps in place, they're the longer ones, usually with rubber covers on them. The bolts coming down from the Jeep are carriage bolts, and should be captured by the mounting frame. I had to cut two off ultimately, but they were easily replaced with new hardware from the local hardware store. 

Now onto the "Hopes and Prayers". Once I had the tank sitting on the driveway, and had freed it from the straps (had to cut them off) I discovered just how bad the skid plate was. Basically the tank was being held up off the road by two flaps of rust. A solid bump may have dropped the tank out. 


Given my incredible intelligence (ha) I was stuck with a nearly full tank (about 45L/12gallons, or 73lbs of gas - give or take). I had to lighten that load or there was no way I was going to be able to manhandle it back into place under the Jeep. Fortunately I have a couple spare fuel pumps, and no fear of death (ha), so I "wired" up a pump with one of those lithium ion jumper boxes (you should get one they're handy). I ended up pumping the gas out into whatever spare gas cans I had to make putting the tank back as easy as possible.

Speaking of manhandling. Even empty it was a battle to get the tank and skid back in place. The new skid plate is thicker and has more protection than the stock one, so that added some weight. Not having taller jack stands made working under the Jeep with the tank and jack that much more difficult. I managed and now have a tank in place with a new skid that will last MANY years. If I ever have to drop the tank again, I'm just taking it to a shop.

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