Jeep JK Winch Bumper by ShrockWorks0
Really popular modification that most Jeep owners will do to their Wranglers is to replace the factory front plastic bumper that came with their stock Jeep JK, with a heavy duty offroad bumper. Aftermarket bumpers offer a ton of advantages over the factory bumper, providing better protection for the front of the Jeep, but most of all allowing you to install a winch and additional offroad lighting. Depending on the design, aftermarket offroad front bumper might also increase your Jeep’s approach angle and expose the front wheels, making it easier to put tires on large obstacles. It might also include steel skid plate, protecting the electronic sway bar disconnect motor, if your Jeep has one.
Aftermarket bumpers generally come in three sizes: full width, mid width, and stubby. When choosing your new offroad bumper you will need to decide on the width, which depends on the way you plan on using your Jeep. You need to also decide if you’re going to mount a winch to it, and whether you prefer a top mounting winch bumper or an in-bumper mounting option with winch plate located between frame rails.
There are plenty of manufacturers offering aftermarket offroad bumpers. You can find different designs made by companies like: Poison Spyder, Rugged Ridge, Rock Hard 4×4, Teraflex, ShrockWorks, Evo Manufacturing, Smittybilt, Artec Industries, M.O.R.E., Crawler Conceptz, LOD, Rampage Products, ARB, Bestop, DV8, Or-Fab, AEV, Rough Country, Warn, Barricade, JCR Offroad, and others. You can often order your new bumper from an online store like Northridge4x4, ExtremeTerrain or Quadratec and if they have it in stock, you’ll receive it in few days. Some manufacturers build your new bumper after you place an order with them, so you will have to be more patient since it might take few weeks before you receive your bumper.
Depending on the brand and design of your new offroad front bumper, there might be some modifications to your Jeep that are necessary before installation. If you go with a bumper that has a winch mounting plate between the frame rails, you need to make sure that it will fit, and that might mean that your vacuum pump needs to be relocated and it’s stock mounting bracket needs to be cut off. Refer to instructions that come with your aftermarket bumper to be clear on requirements.
Obviously before installing your new aftermarket bumper, the factory bumper needs to come off. This is often the part that takes the longest, and if you have factory fog lights, you need to pay close attention to the wires and disconnect everything before pulling off the stock bumper.
Here’s a good video showing you how to remove factory front bumper on your Jeep Wrangler JK.
There were several requirements I had for my new offroad bumper. I decided that I wanted a stubby bumper, with low winch mounting position between frame rails, allowing good air flow to the radiator, integrated recovery points, no fog lights but instead brackets for offroad flood lights, welded-on bull guard providing additional protection, and included skid plate.
After researching for a very long time and reading countless reviews, I decided on a Shrockworks stubby front winch bumper. It checked all the boxes for me, and other owners seem very happy with the quality of their products (especially the quality of their welds).
I contacted the sales person at Shrockworks and discussed all the options. They were very knowledgeable and helpful, and after mentioning that I already own the Superwinch Tiger Shark 9500 winch, I was advised to get the “offset” version of the bumper, with the fairlead slot cut off center, towards driver side. It is due to the position of the drum on the Tiger Shark winch.
This post will describe steps to install a Jeep JK bumper by ShrockWorks, including removal of the vacuum pump bracket to fit the winch plate, as well as installation of the Superwinch Tiger Shark 9500 winch.
Whatever combination of bumper/winch you select for yourself, I would advise you to contact manufacturers of both, to confirm fitment. You can also contact the authorized dealers, including aftermarket offroad parts stores, since they should be knowledgeable in this topic.
Disclaimer: Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
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Parts and tools needed:
9. Gorilla Tape
10. Cable Ties
Prepare your tools and get everything ready before you start the project. Park your Jeep on a level surface, apply emergency brake and put your transmission in park or in gear if you have a 6-speed manual transmission. Chock the front wheels.
The most important item for this project, obviously, is your new front bumper. I am going to assume that you’ll want to install it as soon as it arrives. My new ShrockWorks bumper arrived in a single large box, securely packaged, with foam pads filling the box completely, assuring that the bumper is secure and does not move around.
After unpacking everything you might want to inspect all parts (bumper, winch plate & skid plate), and make sure all necessary hardware is included.
Uninstall your factory front bumper. Refer to this video if you need help. After taking off the stock bumper, depending on the design of your new offroad bumper, you might need to relocate the vacuum pump from it’s stock location.
With the vacuum pump relocated you can begin removing the bracket. It is welded to the inside of the frame rail so inspect it closely and select the best locations to make cuts.
Using a Dremel or similar tool, make the cut in the front.
Make the cut in the back. You may need a pry bar to completely remove the bracket.
After you remove the bracket, make sure to clean the area and spray paint the exposed metal to prevent rusting.
You are now ready to begin the bumper install. Start with the winch plate.
Grab the winch plate and insert it vertically between your Jeep’s frame rails.
Using the 1/2″ x 1 1/4″ bolts, flat washers and flange nuts provided with your Shrockworks bumper, loosely fasten winch plate side mounts to the existing holes on your Jeep’s frame rails. The bolt goes from the inside out with the washer under the head of the bolt. The flange nut should be inside the cross member.
Leave the winch plate in vertical position.
Carefully place your new front bumper on top of the frame rails of your Jeep.
I bolted my offroad flood lights to the tabs before putting the bumper on the Jeep.
Fasten the bumper to the frame end plates with eight 1/2″ x 1 1/4″ bolts and flange nuts. The bolt should go through the frame from the rear of the Jeep with a washer under the head. Flange nuts allow you to tighten the bolts without backing up the nuts. Hand tighten these bolts for now, leave loose enough to allow movement.
Lower the winch plate down into the bumper so that it is level and resting on the inside lower lip. Check to make sure that the holes on the winch plate are matching up with the holes on the bumper and temporarily secure with two provided 3/8″ bolts.
Tighten the bolts securing winch plate side mounts to the frame rails, using a 19mm socket.
Tighten all 8 bolts securing the bumper to frame mounts, using a 19mm socket.
Remove the two 3/8″ bolts temporarily securing winch plate to the inside lower lip of the bumper.
Mount and secure your roller or hawse fairlead to your front bumper.
You are now ready to install the winch.
Before proceeding I decided to install 1/2″ braided sleeves on the cables and secure with heat shrink. I also purchased a Factor 55 winch lock bolt for added security.
Carefully place your winch down into the front bumper and onto the winch plate. Insert the square nuts into the mounts of your winch and then from underneath the bumper, secure the two rear mounts (closest to the grill of your Jeep) using the 3/8″ bolts and washers provided (substitute one with the Factor 55 lock bolt if you wish). Tighten these bolts using a 9/16″ socket.
Route the winch power cables into the engine bay to connect them to battery. I selected to go underneath the grill, behind passenger side headlight, and follow the passenger side wall of the engine bay. Secure the cables with zip ties in few places.
Connect the cables to battery, optionally using the fuses provided with the winch. The cables are just long enough, so there is not much play there.
You can now start installing rope on your winch. Follow instructions in the manual that came with your winch. Your rope might have a loop which needs to be attached to the drum, or there might be a set screw which secures the rope to the drum. The exact method of anchoring the line to the drum will differ, depending on your winch manufacturer.
Following instructions that came with my winch and synthetic rope, I fed about 8″ of rope thru the hole in the drum, positioned inserted line lengthwise down the drum and secured it with Gorilla tape, making sure to wrap the tape fully around the drum.
Remember to always spool your rope from the bottom of the drum!
Connect the controller to the winch and operate the remote with one hand while holding the rope with the other hand. Make sure to keep your hand away from the hawse fairlead to avoid injury.
In order to finish the bumper installation, you can temporarily spool the rope onto the winch under hand tension. You need to remember however to redo the spooling under correct tension as soon as possible, before first use.
Spooling the rope under proper tension is very important to ensure that your winch performs correctly in a recovery situation. You can watch this video, explaining the procedure.
I decided to replace the hook that came with my new winch, with a Factor 55 FlatLink shackle mount.
Install the skid plate by first fastening it to the bottom of the bumper with four 3/8″ bolts. Fasten the skid plate to the bottom of the front cross member with the remaining 3/8′ hardware.
If you’re completing the installation by yourself, a floor jack would be very handy at this point, to hold the rather heavy skid plate in place and level.
Take your time, you might find it difficult to properly align washers and nuts inside the cross member. I would suggest using an extended magnet to fish the washers and nuts into place.
The skid plate has holes for four bolts to be attached to the cross member, however for some reason the cross member on my Jeep does not have a hole on the far passenger side. I ended up using just seven bolts in total for the skid plate, however it appears to be plenty secure. You could always drill the missing hole in the cross member if you encounter the same situation.
After tightening all bolts connecting the skid plate to the cross member, there should be no gap between them, however in my case there was a small gap left, with the bolts fully tightened. I ended up purchasing additional fender washers and placing them on the bolt, right between the cross member and skid plate.
ShrockWorks skid plate extends right under the electronic sway bar disconnect, providing great protection.
I eventually decided to replace all skid plate bolts with grade 8 hardware.
In order to hide and protect the exposed bolt heads, I ended up purchasing seven of the Rock Hard 4×4 1.5″ OD bolt head protectors, together with a set of bolt head plastic caps.
Here is the finished product, with views from different angles.
ShrockWorks front bumper has a very low profile, mounts all the way back against the frame rails, and provides great approach angle.
The Rock Hard 4×4 bolt head protectors hide the bolt heads and ensure that they will not get damaged when the skid plate hits a boulder.
I am very happy with the Shrockworks stubby front winch bumper. I think it looks awesome and it comes with everything I was looking for in an offroad front bumper.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below.