After replacing the stock bumper on my Jeep JK a couple of years ago, I’ve now totally removed my rear bumper. This is commonly referred to as a rear bumper delete and is a growing trend among Jeep owners thanks to some aftermarket products that replace the functionality of the original bumper.
A common question I get is why one would want to go bumperless on a Jeep Wrangler. In this article, I’ll give you my reasons for deleting my bumper as well as tell you how I did it. I’ll also point you to the aftermarket attachments I used to replace my tow points, tow hitch receiver, and spare tire carrier.
While my Jeep is a JK Wrangler, you can do the same with the newer Jeep Wrangler JL. Below, I’ll provide links to the attachments I used for both the JK and the JL.
A quick disclaimer: I can’t vouch for how safe it is to remove your bumper, and your state may have laws against it. Please do your research.
How I deleted my Jeep Wrangler bumper
In case you are just looking for a tutorial and attachments for bunker delete in your Jeep JK (or Jeep JL), I’ll first explain what I did and get into the rationale for it later.
I was running a Smittybilt XRC Atlas Bumper on the back of my Rubicon (4 door), which was a replacement for the stock bumper. The Atlas bumper (see my full review here) and swing arm offered a wide range of functionality.
It featured two D-ring shackle attachments points for recovery operations, a class 3 2-inch trailer hitch receiver, a Hi-lift jack mount, Jerry can holders and a spare tire holder. I wanted to remove the Atlas bumper (again, more on why later), but keep that functionality.
Luckily, there are some great attachments now on the market that do just that. After removing the Atlas bumper, I installed these products:
Redrock Jeep HD Tire Carrier
After putting a Metal Cloak lift on the Ordeal Mobile (my nickname for my JK) a couple of years ago, I started running 35 inch tires. The Atlas bumper can handle up to 37s on the rear tire carrier.
After removing the Atlas bumper, I installed the Redrock Jeep HD Tire Carrier which fits on the OEM tailgate. The swing arm also has a mount point for a Hi Lift jack, so it checked two boxes: holding both the tire and the jack. As far as spare tire carriers for Jeeps go, this one was pretty well priced and I liked that it was fairly low profile.
I also liked that it swings out with the OEM tail gate, which means one-hand opening. Redrock doesn’t make a version of this tire holder for the Jeep JL, but EAG makes one that’s about the same price and serves the same function (holds up to 37-inch tires). It doesn’t have an integrated Hi-Lift jack mount, however.
If you are using large tires on your vehicle, you want to make sure that the weight of the tire carrier isn’t resting on the stock tailgate hinges. The tire carriers above use heavy duty tailgate hinge replacements so that the heavier oversize tire is well supported. This is in contrast to other tire carriers that mount on an aftermarket bumper (like my erstwhile Atlas bumper), so the weight of the larger tire rests on the bumper and by extension on the Jeep’s frame. Since you won’t have a bumper, you won’t have this option.
EVO Rear Bolt-On D-Ring Mounts
The thing that really convinced me to try out a full bumper delete was discovering the bolt on D-ring mounts from EVO manufacturing. These mounts slide inside the open ends of the rear side frame members where the stock bumper would normally be attached. They replaced the recovery points I’d lost when removing the Atlas bumper.
These attach to the frame with grade 8 hardware and steel mounting plates that provide additional support. They weren’t a breeze to get on, but after a bit of tinkering, I figured it out. I personally love the idea of having my recovery points bolted straight to the Jeep’s frame
As a side note, EVO also has a fascia that covers the rear frame to make it look a bit nicer after a bumper delete. My budget didn’t allow for either of these, but I may well add them later – after my kid graduates college in 2040. EVO also sells the fascia and D-rings as a bundle.
As far as I can tell, EVO doesn’t make the fascia bumper and D-ring mounts for Jeep JL Wranglers. BUT, a company called CavFab in Georgia makes a really nice looking fascia/recover points combo.
DV8 Trailer Receiver Hitch
The last thing I needed was to get a new trailer hitch receiver for towing my overland trailer. The trailer is rated to carry a maximum of 2000 pounds, so I need to find a hitch that could handle that. Fortunately, there are a bunch of trailer hitches on the market that will bolt directly to the rear frame member of a Jeep JK.
They are all pretty similar, but I ended up picking up one made by DV8 because it had an additional bracket that I could use to hold the receiver for my 7-pin connector for the trailer’s brakes and lights.
The only issue I had with the DV8 hitch was that the rightmost mounting bolt was too big for the hole. For some reason, my 2015 Jeep Wrangler JK had one smaller bolt hole. Go figure. I went to the hardware store and picked up a smaller one.
How much does a Jeep Wrangler bumper delete cost?
All told, it cost around $630 (pre tax) to remove the bumper from my 2015 Jeep JK and replace it with a Redrock tire carrier, Evo D-ring recovery points, and a Rugged Ridge hitch receiver. The Smittybilt Atlas Bumper that I replaced runs about $950 as I’m writing this, so the bumper delete setup is roughly $300 less expensive. To be honest, however, the cost wasn’t really why I wanted to delete my bumper. I’ll get into that more below.
What’s wrong with the Jeep Wrangler JK stock bumper?
Before I get into why I took off the Smittybilt Atlas bumper, I wanted to explain why I’d replaced the stock bumper in the first place. The stock bumper is actually very light (I’ve read it’s only 15 pounds), which I should have appreciated more before replacing it with the heavy Atlas bumper.
The reason I replaced it with the Atlas Bumper was that I wanted to add some functionality that the stock bumper lacked. Namely, I wanted to tow a trailer, I wanted to carry oversized tires, and I wanted better recovery points (I wasn’t a fan of the single hook-shaped recover point on the stock bumper).
The Atlas bumper offered all of the functionality I was looking for with the addition of jerrycan holders and a Hi-Lift Jack mount. The downside, which I’ll delve into next, is that the bumper was extremely heavy.
Why did I delete the bumper on my Jeep JK?
In another article on Ordealist, I explained the “Jeep squat” and some way to fix it. My Jeep was squatting something terrible. The rear end was visibly lower than the front end. I took a tape measure to it one day and it looked like the back end was about two inches lower than the front.
The problem was particularly pronounced after I installed a 3.5-inch Game Changer Suspension Lift from Metal Cloak. I suspect this was because the lift is designed for maximum articulation (as opposed to their overland lift, which is stiffer for carrying more weight).
So the coil over springs and shocks were more flexible (or at least that’s my theory). As a result the heavy Atlas bumper was causing them to compress under its weight. If I’d installed the stiffer overland lift, perhaps it wouldn’t have been such an issue. But I didn’t and it was. It’s not just a visual issue.
The weight puts more wear and tear on the Jeep and impacts its performance. More than once my rear tires rubbed against the inside of the wheel well while I was off-road, an issue that I’m confident was the result of my suspension being pre-compressed by too much weight on the rear end.
There were two culprits really. I was carrying a rooftop tent on the Jeep (around ~150 pounds) and the Atlas bumper (~240 pounds). To lighten my load and (hopefully) get my Jeep to stop squatting I moved the tent onto my overland trailer and, as reported here, took off the bumper.
The result has been pretty dramatic. After removing the tent I saw some modest improvement. But the real pay off came by deleting the Jeep’s bumper. The rear end lifted about 2 inches once I took the bumper off. You can see the difference in the pictures below.
Am I happy with my bumper delete? So far, yes. The Jeep is sitting a lot taller and more level, which makes it easier on the eyes. More importantly, the squatting from before was a sign that I was putting unnecessary stress on the Jeep. Now that it’s not squatting, it has more room to articulate when traveling over obstacles and I’m not getting any rubbing in the wheel well.
I actually like how the jeep looks without a bumper, though I know other Jeep owners don’t love it – which is why evo and others make the fascia kits (which are purely for looks). Maybe those same people are also offended by buttless chaps…
I might fabricate some kind of fascia down the road. But for now, I’m bumperless and happy.