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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know if there are any real steel, rather than aluminum, skid plates available for a 2013 Gen 4 Outback? Primitive appears to make some nice products, but steel would be much better and is what is generally used on a 4WD vehicle. Recently did 3 intense days of offroad in a Tacoma over many rocks in Death Valley. Am interested in putting skid plates on my 2013 CVT, but would prefer that they were steel. Weight difference should be insignificant.
 

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They use the 1/4" aluminum skid plates on their rally cars. Steel for an Outback is overkill, I have hit many a rock with my Primitive plate and it shows little more than a few scratches. They use steel on 4x4s, not because it is significantly stronger (for the purposes a skid plate serves), but because it is significantly cheaper, and the weight savings aren't that important.

The website below discuses steel versus aluminum, as used in boat hulls (which is quite similar to its use as a skid plate). They make the case that for the same thickness the Aluminum is stronger.

http://www.kastenmarine.com/alumVSsteel.htm

To answer your question no, I am not aware of anyone who produces a steel skid plate for the Outback, of any generation.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the information. I guess I will simply go with the Primitive plates.
 

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Some of the confusion about aluminum vs steel is due to ignorance of the many different alloys that are available. When you walk into the Home Depot for a piece of steel or aluminum, all you see is plain carbon steel and dead soft aluminum.

Neither is suitable for a high stress application like a skid plate, because they are both so soft. In order to get enough strength, the thickness has to go way up, resulting in a huge weight penalty. If you are welding up a cargo trailer in your garage out of 2x2 steel angle, that weight is irrelevant compared to the significant cost savings.

I don't know what alloy Primitive uses, but you can bet it is one of the high strength ones, perhaps 7075-T6.

Another thing to consider is the "fuse" in the system. You need to consider how it will fail: if you install a super strong skid plate and drop the car down onto a granite ledge, what is going to break? Hopefully the plate mounting ears will shear off before the differential ca$e breaks. This is the main reason I will never bolt on a home made plate, but buy from a reputable manufacturer with race (and damage) experience.

The only downside to aluminum IMHO is the corrosion possibilities if you live in a location that has real winters. You must occasionally remove the plate, clean it and the frame, and make sure there is nothing bad starting.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 
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John E Davies
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