Rugged Ridge Aluminum Hood Latch Install Details & Suggestions
Pretty straight-fwd install but I wanted to provide some extra info that Rugged Ridge doesn't mention in their instructions, as well as my personal thoughts on the product and the installation.
Tools that I used:
4 mm hex bit ( cheapo L-type)
5 mm hex bit ( socket-bit type)
Ratcheting wrench handle with extension
10 mm wrench
13 mm wrench
3M Weatherstrip adhesive
* Remove old latches using 10mm socket or crescent wrench. Ratcheting or open-end wrench works best for the nut on the inside of the fender panel since it's a tight fit in there. I cleaned and waxed the area just to make sure no dirt or crap was trapped under the new latches.
* You must remove and re-use the rubber piece from the OEM latches ( called a safety-snap) that is wedged between the hood and fender. I went an extra couple steps and used a razor-blade to trim off the end of it. It gives it a cleaner look and it will seat more snugly without that piece. I also used a very small amount of rubber-safe adhesive before fitting it onto the new latch. Possibly overkill but I don't really want to lose these little rubber things.
* You also must remove the binding posts on the pivot-base in order to access the hex-head of one of the bolts. The instructions don't tell you to use Loctite when re-assembling the ( threaded) posts but I did anyway. I also used a little Loctite on the jam-nuts. I want to forget about these things rather than periodically check them.
* Now simply bolt-up the new latches using the 4mm hex/ 10mm open-end on the hood portion and using the 5mm hex/ 13mm open-end on the fender portion. Make sure the gaskets are lined up with the latches before tightening down all the way.
* With everything installed, you lastly have to set the desired length by turning the latch part clockwise to shorten or counterclockwise to lengthen. Once set, just tighten up the jam-nuts with your 5/8" open end wrench ( adding a drop or two of thread-locker if you want).
*** I think that the latches look great. I don't like blingy or silly looking stuff and despite that these have a very high-tech appearance, they don't detract away from the obvious improved functionality over the OEM latches. They also don't stand-out as something out of place on the JK. The only thing in my mind that could at all make them even more bad-ass looking, would be if the binding post heads were matched black instead of silver, but they really don't look crazy or dumb even with the stainless hardware in my opinion. Very happy with the look.
*** The functionality is a night and day difference over the OEM latches. Once dialed in, these things don't allow the hood to budge at all. With my stock latches, I would pass a semi-truck and see an almost concerning degree of bounce and flutter. There is literally no noticeable movement with these latches installed.
*** My final opinion about these is that they are made very well. Fit and finish are excellent and they appear to be a very durable product. Hardware is top-notch as well. I don't see having any major issues with these. Even if they ever chip or fade, it will be a quick re-fresh to just hit 'em with some satin or gloss black and bring 'em back to life.
*** It wasn't easy to drop $100 on a set of hood-latches but I'm glad that I did. They look sweet and they definitely alleviate any and all hood movement... period. Thanks to Rugged Ridge and to Marcus Jive Pimp Turkey at River City Off-Road.
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