Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

One of the biggest concerns I have had with the JK platform was under hood heat.  The engine bays (in both the 3.8 and 3.6 variants) are super cramped, and we push our Jeeps when offroading, especially in hot and dusty places like Moab or the Rubicon.

I was really excited when Rugged Ridge sent me one of their performance vented hoods to try.  This would be the perfect chance to see just what kind of a difference would be seen with a vented hood.

We push our Jeeps in some pretty hot and arid places such as Moab.

Before the Rugged Ridge hood, I considered a bunch of options. Starting with the cheaper end, I looked at hood louvers from companies like Gen Right and Poison Spider.  The biggest benefit to these, is that you do not need to paint your hood.

I am really glad I didn’t go this route, and instead installed the Rugged Ridge Performance vented hood.  Here is why.

The Pros

Styling: The RR hood just looks awesome.  One of my friends mentioned the styling looks borrowed from the A-10 Warthog.  The hood has an eye-catching shape that features a “bulge” that runs across the front of it, which really breaks up the flat and boring MOPAR version.

The metal heat vents on the top are a parallelogram shape while the vents on the side are recessed and rounded.  These vents are easily removable to be painted a highlight color or even bedlined.

Great styling.

Install: Installation was also a breeze, with the fitment perfectly matching the stock mounts and stock hardware.  I will feature an install post soon.  Instructions, while simple, were adequate. Install took about 1 hour.

Function:  On my first day of city driving, Portland was experiencing 70+ degree temps in March.  I immediately noticed my temp gauge that was usually parked right in the middle, was sitting a hair under its normal spot.  So the gauge reflected a true reduction in under hood heat.

I also noticed, while waiting in line at a drive through, actual heat waves rising out of the hood. This was something new, so I actually could see the heat escaping from my engine bay.

Last, when I opened the hood I noticed a sharp reduction in the heat that was typically released (almost like opening an oven after it has heated up) in my face.  That blast of hot air was no more.

Design: One of the nice little benefits I did not expect was the amount of light that the hood vents let in when working under the hood.   It was almost like having two skylights making under hood work a little nicer.

The view of the hood from the driver’s seat.

Packaging:  I typically don’t mention packaging in my reviews, but shipping a hood without damage is a daunting task.  I was pleased to see precision cut foam blocks holding a well-protected hood inside a sealed, heavy duty cardboard box from RR.  There were no excessively wasteful shipping items (i.e. peanuts, etc) which was nice.

The Cons

Vent Fitment: I really struggled with the install of the top vents.  First, they use threaded clips that snap over the vent and a lip on the underside of the hood.  These clips seem to scratch my fresh paint and do not allow for a simple, flush install.

Also, what appears to be a manufacturing defect shows significant, non-uniform gaps where the vents meet the hood.

An example of the gaps in the top vents.
More fitment concerns.

I contacted Rugged Ridge about this issue, and it is a known problem however my instance seems severe.  Rugged Ridge sent me photos of their own Jeeps and while there were some vent gaps, they were minimal.  They also advised that I could try to “bend” the vents to make them fit better.  However I do not want to keep sliding those clips on and off over that fresh coat of paint.

Rugged Ridge also told me to look for a new product announced at SEMA 2014 – updated hood vents.  These vents sit on top of the hood, rather than “sit” flush with the surface.

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The Rugged Ridge announcement from SEMA.

I can easily live until these new vents hit the market in early May 2015 to fix this fitment issue.

Installing with my ARB compressor: This is not an issue with the hood.  As we all know, manufacturers cannot factor in every part combination of our Jeeps when designing products.  I had a slight conflict between my under hood ARB Twin Compressor and the MORE mount.

The fix?  I had to cut a small piece out of the ARB compressor cover, in order to let the air nipple lay flat.  This resolved the issue where the nipple was contacting the hood.

The minor mod I made to my ARB compressor. Also, notice the discoloration on the engine-side compressor and the warped label – signs of excessive under hood heat from before this hood!

Conclusion

As Summer starts a very early presence here in the Pacific Northwest, I am really happy to finally have a heat reduction hood on the Jeep.  The hood from Rugged Ridge is worth the cost and time to have it painted (~$350-$400).  From unique styling that sets the Jeep apart, to actual, marked reductions in under hood temps, it is a great addition to the Jeep.

I am also really excited that RR has manufactured new vents for the hood.  They recognized a manufacturing issue (compound forming) and changed the approach on how to fix it.  I hope they continue to design new vents, so Jeep owners can find more and more ways to further tailor the look of their Jeeps.

I look forward to pushing the Jeep a little harder this Summer, knowing it’s a little cooler.

**FULL DISCLOSURE: Rugged Ridge provided the hood for the purpose of this review.  I paid a local shop for painting. It did not influence, in any way the outcome of this review.

2 thoughts on “Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood”

  1. Reblogged this on Smokey the Jeep and commented:
    Nice review of a great-looking product. I’m glad Rugged Ridge offers a competitor to AEV’s heat-reduction hood.

    I was unfamiliar with the vent gap issue. That one would have me quite, well, heated up. There’s no way I’d accept being told a product I purchased was inferior and to buy an additional product to fix it. (No harm, no foul here since they provided the review unit but, to the consumer, that’s deplorable.)

    Overall, it looks to be a great product, just hope they work out the vent issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cary – thanks for the reblog and comment! I was bummed at first too, but was really impressed with RR’s admitting of the issue. I am willing to bet that is the reason behind gen 2 of the vents. They tried the compound forming, but it didn’t work so now they are going a different route.

      I assume if I purchased the hood and was super concerned, they would send me a new set of vents under warranty. Honestly, the gaps are not noticeable unless you are right up on the hood. I will be getting a pair of the new vents once they hit the market, and will update the review. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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