One of the first steps to my build was a front bumper swap. When I pulled off the stock bumper, there was this weird little plastic piece mounted to the underside of the bumper. I stared at it and wondered WTF? Is this what passes for a skid plate in 2013? The short answer is no, that’s a plastic front air dam that the engineers tucked under there to help the aerodynamics squeeze out another 1-2 mpg’s. When I swapped it for the newer bumper, the result was a small gap that acts like a sail at highway speeds and a resulting fuel economy drop.
Since I swapped it out so early, I don’t have any mpg data to verify my hypothesis. So… to the internets! I found a post where a guy ran his JK for around 1,000 miles tracking his fuel economy w/ the OEM air dam in place and then 3 tanks of gas without it. His numbers show that he lost almost 2 mpg courtesy of that silly little plastic piece. So, my mind started churning and I started brain storming. What’s stopping me from connecting the bottom of my bumper to my skid plate somehow to cover that big gap? Maybe I can get 2 mpg’s back too? My idea started out on the back of a bar napkin and then grew to a scrap piece of paper and finally to a poor 3d image w/ some notes using power point.
I reached out to a local fabricator (who came well recommended) with my idea, and we met to take some official measurements. After chatting a bit and crawling around under the front of the Jeep, we were seeing eye to eye and he went off to play in his shop. The result a few weeks later (he went on vacay!) looked pretty damn cool imho.
Personally, I’ve never [EVER] had the opportunity to take an idea in my head all the way from concept to a product I can hold in my hands. Installing it on my JKUR, I felt like an inventor. I was giddy! My eyes are opened to the concept that if I can dream it up and draw it, I can install it. Without further delay, here is the finished product with the ORFAB skid reinstalled back behind it.
Sure, it doesn’t look like much and I bet you had to flip back to the before pic (look under the jack points in the bumper) just to see if it was really there, but I’m hoping that it’s good for 2 mpg’s. Perhaps that’s a little optimistic, but I’ve got 4,100 miles of data to test my hypothesis against and my Aeroforce Tech. gauge to show me instant mpg’s on the highway. It’s light weight 5000 series painted aluminum and with those bends, it’s strong enough to take a bit of a beating or stand up to plenty of road debris & wind. We’ll see this weekend how my new piece holds up at RC and on the highway there and back. Has someone made one of these before? Maybe, but I’ve never seen one in person nor could I find one that would fit my Jeep or found any others online. So, I’m claiming it as a brand new piece!