Friday, June 5, 2009

Subaru Skid Plate - One tough Subi

The most popular car in Tahoe is the Subaru Outback. And if you look underneath one you will most likely see an image similar to this one. Odd you might think; exposed exhaust manifolds and oil pans. Shouldn't all that stuff be covered up. Well at one time it was. The auto industry uses the term "splash shields" for the plates that cover the under side of a car. Humm I always thought those things were called skid plates. Sorry no. Modern cars have their undercarriages protected by a shield composed of a material somewhere between plastic and cardboard. As their name suggest, the only thing that they are good for protecting against is splashes of water.
A fact of life in snow country are snow berms left by the plow. Driving over a berm or even worse getting stuck on a berm and backing off, can be the end of your precious splash shield.

Enter Primitive Racing. They produce many "homegrown" aftermarket products for Subaru's. Due to the popularity of grass roots rally racing, Subaru's have strong following with the armature race crowd. And what do racers need more than anything else, but aftermarket and replacement parts. Rather than just focusing on the smaller cars; WRX, Impreza, and STI's, Primitive has expanded their product line for most Subi's.

For our car, I selected the 3/16" aluminum skid plate, with all holes deleted. In retrospect, I do not need the added protection of no holes, and will be adding them soon to make oil changes easier.
Though I do not intend to do any heavy offloading in the station wagon, I do not feel like I am driving around with a naked car.

UPDATE: The skid plate will soon come off durning pre winter work over. At this time I will be cutting two large holes in the bottom for oil and oil filter access. Have the "no hole" version of the skid plate is a good idea if you are a ralley racer. However the station wagon only sees very mild offroading and the holes would be fine. A quick e-mail to Paul E, owner of Primitive Racing yeilded some of the dimesniosn and locations of the access holes. Attached is the e-mail repsonde from Paul:

Sure, verify all measurements for yourself prior to cutting.

You can use a 2.5" hole saw.

Drain ~2.5" hole location is 4.4" up (towards front) from center of the OUTER of the 2 rear mounting holes (elongated hole, measure from center) and 2.2" out (towards outer edge of plate on passenger side. So 4.4 up and 2.2 over.

Filter ~4.25" hole (2.5" hole then jigsaw or find a 4.25" hole saw) location is 8.9" up from the center of that same mounting hole and 4.9" out. So 8.9" up and 4.9" over.


Update: I have finsihed cutting the two access holes for the skid. See:


  1. Here is mine. Laser cut 3/8" plate.

  2. Is it a big deal to take off your skid plate to do oil changes if you don't want to go through the hassle of cutting the holes into the aluminum?

    Thanks, Crystal

  3. Not a real big deal, but it does add a considerable amount of work. Without any skid or sheild I can change the oil in 10 minutes or less. But if you have to remove the skid and install it again it can easily become an hour long job. Why? THe skid is not light, then there are five bolts that need to be lined up, finally there are two large spacers that need to fit between the skid and the frame. These things are just floating in place, and it is difficult to align them along with the five bolts. I have done it several times but always curse myself that I have to do it. Two more reasons to just get the skid from Paul with the holes. It is easy to cross thread the holes and strip them out. When the engine flexes the oil pan rubs the bottom of the skid a little. YOu need to mess with adding additional spacers to insure no contact.

    Bottom line. If you rally race and smack the skid often and need maximun protection, get the no hole version, have the car up on stands when working on it, have an extra set of hands to help install. If you are looking for an upgraded OEM replacment, get the one with the holes!