primitive racing skid plate for subaru forester

Primitive Racing Skid Plate 5 Year Review: Don't Make The Same Mistakes I Did

By Ben Boxer

In 2019, I finally realized that I needed a skid plate for my 2006 Subaru Forester. I had been taking it on some more advanced trails that made me feel a bit cautious. The way Subarus are designed causes the oil pan to be exposed when trying to navigate rocks or large stumps, and I didn’t want to be the guy with a blown up engine on the trail.

I did what any smart person would do and jumped on the Primitive Racing website and found the right option for my car. At the time, I was paying off $40k in student loans and opted to go the cheaper route. I chose the 1/8″ skid plate with no oil drain holes. Five years later, this thing is completely trashed but still functional.

If I had it to do over again, I would have followed their recommendation and purchased the thicker plate. The 3/16″ skid plate is far better for offroading and would have held up much better to the type of driving I have been doing in the car.

So why is my skid plate trash? Well, because I’ve used it…hard. I’ve beat the skid plate within an inch of its life and you can tell by looking at it. But here’s the crazy part; it still mounts up perfectly and does its job despite having to be bent back into shape countless times.

Table of Contents

lifted subaru forester with mud terrain tires and lift kit

Video Review

I recently filmed a 5 year review of my Primitive Racing skid plate. Feel free to check it out below:

YouTube video

Damage Resistance

The 1/8″ skid plate is great for gravel roads, but the thicker 3/16″ plate is the right choice for offroading and rally applications. I should have selected the 3/16″ plate from Primitive but sometimes you can’t convince a person to do the right thing no matter what.

I have subjected my skid plate to the following damage:

  • Slammed against boulders
  • Smashed against large tree stumps
  • Driven on relatively advanced 4×4 trails
  • Banged it into concrete barriers
Somehow, despite being only 1/8″ thick, it has survived being damaged multiple times and then bent back into shape without breaking. Furthermore, it’s protected my engine exactly how it was meant to. This thing has been an absolute tank.
 
Purchasing rally washers may be a good idea for some folks. However, as long as you don’t over tighten the bolts, a damaged bolt can be easily removed with a crescent wrench and replaced with another grade 8 or higher bolt.
Subaru lifted primitive racing skid plate damaged

I’ve folded this skid plate so bad on rocks that I had to jump on it to bend it back into place. Somehow it’s held up to everything I’ve done to it.

In 2021 I managed to get the car stuck in a ditch on a large log that was hidden under some brush. Fortunately, the skid plate took the brunt of the impact from one of the big branch stubs on the log. It would have likely smacked into my oil pan and left me stranded in the forest.

Obviously, this dented the skid plate pretty seriously. But with a rubber mallet and some determination, I got it shaped back to the right form and remounted properly.

lifted subaru forester with primitive racing skid plate offroad

Oil Changes With A Skid Plate

I couldn’t be happier that I opted for the no hole option. In my opinion, there’s no reason to purchase the oil change holes. I know it may seem inconvenient at first, but it only takes five minutes to remove the plate when performing oil changes.

It’s also a good idea to remove the plate often to check for leaks regardless. I found a leaky oil cooler gasket that I wouldn’t have caught had I not inspected the engine during an oil change. 

Here’s what I look at when I have the skid plate off for an oil change:

  • Check below the oil pump and pan for leaks
  • Inspect the inner tie rod ends (ask me how I know this is vital)
  • Inspect the area below where the engine and transmission meet (common area for rear main seal or oil separator plate leak)
  • Check exhaust manifold gaskets for soot indicating a leak
  • Clean out any mud or debris from the skid plate and up in the undercarriage
I may recommend oil drain holes for people who daily drive their Subaru and put a lot of miles on the car. I know some folks who put 1-2k miles on their car monthly. Pulling the skid plate off every 60 days might be frustrating. But don’t neglect removal of the skid plate at least every 3 months to inspect your engine for leaks.

Features That Make The Primitive Skid Plate A Winner

The Primitive Racing skid plates are very straightforward and rally-tested. They’re super easy to install due to the integrated spacers that are welded into the plate. This makes for quick change outs when performing maintenance on the car.

I also really like the low profile vents that allow for mud, moisture, and heat to escape from above the skid plate. This skid plate does not cause any overheating problems. I’ve never had my engine get hot with the skid plate installed despite using heavy throttle.

Primitive also designs their plates with bends in the right spots to avoid hang ups in reverse.

subaru skid plate vents
primitive skid plate spacer up close

Pricing: The Best Bang For The Buck

While shopping for my skid plate, I looked at a few other companies. I considered RalliTEK, TBW, LP Aventure, and various other options. However, for the price and availability I couldn’t find a better choice than the Primitive skid plate. Most of the companies I looked at only offered plates for new Foresters and not the older model that I own. At the time, only Primitive and one other company had a skid plate that would fit my car.

Once I narrowed it down between Primitive and another brand, the Primitive Racing pricing made the most sense. For the exact same aluminum thickness, it was $70 less expensive and had the option to not have oil drain holes. The other brand didn’t have an option without oil drain and filter holes. They also didn’t offer the thicker version for those who might want it.

Installing The Skid Plate: Tips I Found Helpful

The Primitive Racing skid plates are some of the easiest ones to install due to their welded on spacers. However, the skid plates do have a slightly sharp edge when new. So be cautious of that when handling them. Here are some steps that I used upon my first installation:

  • Wear gloves when installing a new skid plate with sharp edges.
  • The edges can be lightly sanded down with a 220-480 grit sandpaper.
  • Chase the threads of the holes that your skid plate will mount to before installation. I used anti-seize compound and ran the bolts up and down the holes a few times to clear the threads out. This is much easier than fighting them with one hand while holding the skid plate up.
  • Install goes much smoother with the car up on jack stands using a rolling creeper to slide under the vehicle.
  • Don’t over tighten the bolts. The skid plate only needs to be snugged down. I always just snug the bolts and then give them a quarter turn. Over tightening will cause deformation to the skid plate and is unnecessary. You also need to be able to easily loosen the bolts the next time the skid plate needs to be removed.

If you’re ever planning to take your car off the pavement, a skid plate is a must-have. The Primitive skid plates really are the best bang for the buck that I have found. They make installation easy and the quality is top notch.

You can also check out my Subaru Skid Plate Buying Guide if you want to see more of the options available for our cars.

If you have any questions about this skid plate, leave a comment!

3 thoughts on “Are Primitive Racing Subaru Skid Plates Any Good? 5 Year Review”

  1. Thanks for the review!
    This is what i needed to see before buying a skid plate for my new Subaru Outback. Going to take your advice and do the 3/16″ thick skid plate option.
    Happy trailing!
    -Sal

  2. This is a great post. I really enjoyed the video too. This was all i needed to move forward with getting my skid plates. How important do you think a CVT skid plate is as well? Should I worry about it?

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