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Rugged Ridge XHD Jeep Front Bumper

August 20, 2011

By Matt Marine

I wanted to replace the stock Wrangler bumper with one that could hold a winch. There are a ton of bumpers to choose from and to me, not only is the performance important, but so are the looks and customer service.

First, looks. I was very particular in my selection of a bumper: the winch needed to be recessed, it should have a simple, clean look, have either a small or no hoop and not cost me a ton of money.

After a long search, I found either the aftermarket Mopar Offroad bumper and the XHD bumper satisfied my criteria. A friend of mine purchased the Mopar bumper and Warn winch; they went together easily and looked nice, but the XHD bumper had a couple of options that put it above the Mopar bumper in my opinion:
- the ends could be removed (if I put 35" tires on my Jeep, the Mopar bumper would have to be trimmed)
- I liked the D-rings on the XHD instead of the crash cans on the Mopar
- I wanted a front skid plate and the Rugged Ridge skid plate seemed like it would fit in nicely with their bumper

With a friend's help, I put the bumper (and a winch and skid plate to be reviewed at a later time) on in April, 2011. Here's how it went on:

NOTE: These are not complete instructions and should not be taken as such. The following should only be used as information on how I installed my bumper. Follow the instruction manual that came with your bumper.

The XHD bumper as it came from the factory

The first thing you have to do is take off the front grill.

Take out the screws on top of the grill under the hood. There are six of these. These easily pop out with a slotted screwdriver.

Next is the plastic air piece behind the bumper and grill and the splash shield. This is probably the most difficult part of the installation (especially if you want to keep the fasteners). You are supposed to be able to unscrew the plastic screws and pop them out. Nope. Ain't happening. You can turn most of the plastic screws all you want and they just spin without coming out.

Trying to unscrew the plastic screws under the bumper on the splash shield. Only one of these actually unscrewed for me.

The best way I found to get these screws out was to use a small regular screwdriver and a hammer to pop them out. Beware: this does ruin the connectors so they can't be used again.

Here's the splash shield after it was removed.

The front grill is removed by leaning it forward and pulling it out from the catches. You will also need to disconnect the turn signal bulbs. They easily twist out.

This is what it looks like with the top plastic piece turned up and the grill removed.

Reach behind the bumper and removed the four bolts each side to the frame. There are two washer plates that you need to keep for the new bumper installation. Disconnect the fog lights too. The tow hooks come out with the bumper.

After the bumper has been removed. You will not need the bumper, tow hooks or plastic pieces (splash shield) with your new bumper.

This is the view behind the bumper when you install the fog lights. Don't forget to do this before you put the bumper on!

Okay, now it's time to apologize. I don't have any more specific photos of putting the bumper on. Two things happened. One, I put the winch on at the same time and two, I got excited and forgot to take more pictures of the bumper installation (though I have some of the winch install).

The rest of the installation is very easy. Install the fog lights in the new bumper. The fog lights line up with the welded on bolts. Screw the nuts on these. Tighten, but don't over tighten.

If you are putting on a winch, do that at this time. Remember to connect the electrical harness before putting the bumper on (this installation will be covered at a later time).

I would also install the hoop and the end caps at this time (though this can be done at a later time if you want).

Reinstall the front grill, connecting the turn signals before snapping into place. Reset the plastic connectors to secure.

Once everything is installed, line up the bumper with the frame (this may take two people to lift in place) with the frame and bolt on. Don't forget to use the washer plates that you saved from the stock bumper. Connect the fog lights.

Some of the nuts can be difficult to set on the bolt. The option that worked the best for me was to get the difficult ones first, then the easy ones. Snug each nut, then go around and retighten.

The plastic piece between the stock bumper and grill and splash shield do not fit with the new bumper. You can get a front skid plate (will be reviewed later) to go in place of the splash shield.

There you go, easy as pie!

The XHD bumper looks great!

The bottom line

So far, I like the bumper itself, but I haven't had a chance to really test it. If you buy a Rugged Ridge product, I can't tell you what to expect from their customer service and support of their products. My experience with them would indicate to stay clear of their company. I would not base my decision to buy their product upon the money saved from a rebate. You decide what's important to you.

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