While we have established that the KL Cherokee is in fact able to be lifted, the cold hard fact remains that even a “lifted” KL isn’t going to get up in the air enough to keep its belly out of harm’s way when playing off the pavement. Sure, the Trailhawks do have some of the best factory skid plates we have seen, but they still leave a few vulnerabilities that need addressing.
The largest of these vulnerabilities in our opinion is the rockers. The plastic cover that is fitted to the Cherokees when they leave the showroom is for looks and looks alone. One good hit from a rock or tree and you will be visiting a body shop.
Since we know we will have our KL on trails that have rocks as large as the tires, we needed an upgrade. Sadly, there are not many aftermarket manufacturers flocking to the KL so your off-the-shelf options are rather slim. In fact, we are only aware of two (Mopar or Rocky Road Outfitters). We desperately tried to get a few other fab shops to get interested in making sliders, but failed.
For some time we were considering fabricating our own, but once I got to designing what we wanted and how they would mount to the Jeep, the differences in my design and the Mopar sliders were not significant enough to make it worth my time. So, I strolled into our local dealership, wheeled-and-dealed a bit and, before I knew it, they were on order.
It took them about 4 weeks to arrive at the dealer. In spite of the fact that the box is huge, there wasn’t sufficient protection from them to arrive completely damage free (more on this later). After looking at the directions that were included we realized that this is an opportunity to do another install article and hopefully help other Jeepers.
With that being said and if you are interested in the install process for these sliders read on! If you just want to see how they look, scroll on! 🙂
Before we begin, you will need to gather some tools. Most are pretty common but if you find you don’t have everything you need, remember most automotive stores will rent or lease tools. This is perfect for those items you don’t plan on using more than once or twice.
- Plastic Trim Removal Tool or Trim Removal Tool
- Razor Knife and/or Scraper
- Push-Pin Removal Tool/Pry-Bar
- Torque Wrench (Will need to be set to 7 Nm (62 in-lbf)
- 7mm Wrench or Socket
- 9/16” Box-end Wrench
- 10mm socket (or preferably a 10mm ratcheting wrench)
- T30 Torx bit (socket)
- 2-6” extension for T30 Torx Socket
- Ratcheting Wrench for Sockets
- 9mm drill bit (can substitute with 23/64”) and Drill
- Grease or Thick Oil
Optional Supplies or Tools we also recommend
- Automotive Silicone Gasket Sealer
- A few extra M6-1.0 x 45 (full thread) Bolts
- Center Punch or Small “Starter” Drill Bit
- Black Touch-up Paint
- Tape Measure
- Sharpie or Marker
- T30 Torx screwdriver
The only other things you will need are included with the rock sliders under Mopar PN:82213941. You should find some directions, rivet nut (rivnut) insertion tool, 30 rivnuts, and 30 M6 torx head bolts. (Pictured below) Note: Ours came with an extra rivnut.
As mentioned earlier in the introduction, the sliders came packaged in a massive and fairly heavy (130 pound) box. In spite of this, our sliders had gotten just a little bit of damage in transit to us. The bulk of this was on the end cap weld seams that face each other in the box.
During our heavy wheeling season in summer this wouldn’t be a big deal at all. But since we are installing these in the winter and see a bunch of salted roads, this had to be addressed prior to installation.
Since the spots are pretty small, we just used some black touch-up paint.
We are pretty impressed with the beef of these sliders. If you are familiar with the Wrangler Rubicon and the sliders they come with, you will see these began with that design (circled in red below) and then had more added to them. One major improvement from the Rubicon Sliders are the bolts along the top which will help with the flex from a vertical hit.
The only real weakness I see is that no internal gusseting is present. Time will tell if this is an issue.
The included directions suggest beginning by lifting the Jeep. Since we have a 2-post lift which we feared would get in the way and we were too lazy to jack the Jeep up and support it with jack stands, we opted to do the installation with the Jeep on the ground.
The only real downside to this is the tight clearance at this first step….
Using the 7mm wrench or 7mm socket and ratchet, remove the bolts found at the front and rear of the plastic rocker guard which hold the splash guards in place. There will be one at the front and two at the rear on each side.
While the included directions show this being followed by the removal of clip nuts that the prior bolts fastened to, we found ours were actually secured with a plastic molly type fastener. The best way we have found to remove these is simply to pry the splash guard out and off.
Both the front and rear splash guards can be discarded as they will not be reused.
The next step is to remove the plastic rocker guard itself. To be completely honest, there isn’t a gentle way to do this. We tried to use a plastic pry bar and gently work each clip. Even with very little pressure, this resulted in the small dent indicated by the red arrow below.
This did allow for me to get my fingers behind the rocker guard and begin pulling it off. This was pretty tough on my hands and still rather violent, but worked.
For the other side, I decided to try another approach…. I simply opened the doors and went to stand on the rocker. It does have a stamp made into it that says “NO STEP” and this is for good reason as the whole guard snapped and popped off. As bad as it sounds it was actually far less invasive as the other side went. If I ever do another set of these, this is the way I will remove the rockers!
Undoubtedly, some of the blue seal clips will be left behind after you rip the rocker guard off. Use a push-pin removal tool to remove any that remain. Rotate the clip and/or tool so that the notches of the tool squeeze the locking tabs in. This will allow for the clips removal with little to no prying at all.
Once all the clips have been removed, the next step is to remove the strip of seam sealer that is found on the bottom of the rocker. A sharp scraper or razor knife will make short work of it.
Now for the step that most dread, there are 4 holes that need to be drilled.
The 2nd and 4th holes from the rear of the Jeep (on the sides) need to be drilled deeper to allow clearance for the rivnuts.
The directions call for a 9mm drill but the slightly smaller 23/64” is all we had without going over and worked just fine. We did have some trouble with the bit wanting to walk and nibble at the outer hole so we highly suggest you use a center punch and or starter drill first.
Once the holes are drilled, it is a good time to get an old towel and some window cleaner to clean the rocker area thoroughly.
Next, apply some touch-up paint on any bare metal you have created by drilling or scraping. We only had black, but frankly this will be completely hidden and is only for rust prevention. The directions indicate the use of a Mopar sealer (82300508AB) but it seems this part is now obsolete without a replacement.
Next, mark the location of where the rivnuts will go. There are more holes on the Jeep than will be filled with rivnuts and the included directions do a very poor job of illustrating their locations. We ended up using a tape measure to measure the hole spreads on the sliders themselves to locate where the rivnuts were needed on the Jeep.
In order to keep us straight and not have to keep rechecking and measuring, we marked the holes with chevron using a sharpie (marker).
It’s finally time to start the installation steps!
In spite of the fact that we have two professional rivnuts installation tools, we still had to use the tool Mopar provides as neither of ours had long enough studs for the provided rivnuts.
This was a huge concern of mine as these can be tricky to install, but both surprisingly and thankfully the tool worked well. In fact, the only real issue we had with it was galling of the threads on the bolt. We solved this by running a die over the bolt after every 4-5 rivnut installs. Since we realize most will not have a tap and die set, we added additional bolts to the optional tool list.
The tool should be assembled as shown below: Bolt, washer, knurled nut (smooth side toward washer), rivnut (against the knurled teeth). A liberal amount of grease or thick oil should be used between the bolt head, washer, and knurled nut. A small amount of oil on the threads will help with galling.
A step missing from the directions but something we have always done when installing rivnuts is to add a small bead of silicone sealer to the lip that will be against the Jeep. This will help seal the hole and prevent rust from forming.
With the rivnut installed snugly on the tool and the bead of silicone around the head, insert the rivnut into one of the holes you marked. Use a 9/16” box end wrench to keep the knurled nut from spinning and tighten the M6 bolt with either a 10mm ratchet wrench or socket and ratchet. This will begin tough, and then ease up on the turning force needed.
As soon as you begin to feel the torque required to turn the bolt increase, switch out the 10mm wrench or socket for a torque wrench. Continue tightening the bolt until 7 Nm (62 in-lbf) is reached. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN.
Continue installing the rivnuts until all are installed.
Once all the rivnuts are installed, it’s time to position the rock sliders into place. We found a floor jack with a board and some guidance by a helper worked quite well. If you decided to jack the Jeep or lift it up, this may not work for you.
Be sure to align and tuck the inner fender liners behind the rock slider as it is being put into position.
With the rock slider installed, apply a liberal amount of anti-seize to the bolts before installing. Do not tighten any up just yet. Make sure all are started first. Note: Our driver’s side fit like a glove, but the entire bottom side of passenger side had to have the holes in the slider opened up a bit to get all the bolts to start.
Once all the bolts are started, snug them up before torqueing to 7 Nm (62 in-lbf)
That’s it! You’re done enjoy your new armor.
Hopefully this article helps you… be sure to comment below!