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Worried About Drilling Into Your A-Pillar To Install A Snorkel? Here's What Experts Say

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bison front close.jpg

John Goreham
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
9-12-2018

 

Let's face it. The Bison is a Colorado ZR2 with skidplates, better bumpers, and the cool snorkel. Except you can get the snorkel just as easily on a ZR2 or even a base Colorado. Chevy isn't supplying them from the factory. To have that cool appendage, you have to install it yourself or have someone do it for you. Cutting out the catcher's mitt-sized hole in the fender is one thing, you can always replace a fender, but drilling into the A-Pillar may seem scary. That A-Pillar is responsible for a lot of safety functions as well as being a tougher part to repair if need be than a removable fender. To drill or not to drill, that is the question.

a pillar snorkel poll.png

 

It is also a question we put to the Facebook Chevy Colorado ZR2 club. 77 of the 144 respondents said "No F'ing Way!" to drilling into that particularly sensitive spot.

 

colorado canyon steel assembly smdi.pngsmdi types of steel in colorado and canyon.png

To see if the A-Pillar is off limits, we reached out to the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). These are the folks who help automakers to develop the exotic steels now used for lightweighting and strengthening key parts of trucks and cars. First, we asked SMDI what exactly the A-Pillar in a Chevy Colorado is made from and how it is made. They told us, "A-pillars are typically designed with 3 layers of sheet metal. An outer body side panel which is the painted exterior surface, and an outer (middle layer) and inner (interior to the passenger compartment) A-pillar structures. The outer panel is made of mild steel and is mostly to cover the structure of the vehicle and contribute to styling. The two structural pieces for the A-pillar are made of ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS) and have tensile strengths greater than 1000 MPa. The outer is a press-hardened steel (PHS), also called a hot-stamped steel. The inner is a multi-phase grade (stamped at room temperature).  These grades are 4-6 times stronger than the mild steel of the outer panel and deliver exceptional performance in strength and resistance to intrusion (bending or crush in a collision). These grades also deliver efficient designs of the A-pillar in that higher strength allows for a thinner section design (over lower strength materials such as aluminum) which gives better visibility to the driver."

 

SMDI reviewed the video of the install from AEV, the supplier of the snorkel. We then asked them if they thought the drilling was any kind of concern. SMDI replied, "The way this process is shown in the video is more than adequate to attach the snorkel without compromising the performance integrity of the A-pillar. It is attached directly to the outer panel and does not disturb the load path performance provided by the outer and inner structural pieces."

 

So the experts say "full send!" Send us images and video if you do an install of your own. We'd love to do a post showing them off. Here's how to get the snorkel kit.

 

Image note: Component images are slides from the 2015 Great Designs in Steel presentation by Wendy Malone (GM) on “The All New 2-15 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon Cab Structure.” Courtesy of SMDI. 

 

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I love it when you poke dead things with a stick John. Nice write up.

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What a stupid gimmick.   Virtually no one fording deep water that requires this sort of nonsense.   Typical GM-post 2008 foolish fluff

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I have a functional snorkel on my Jeep mud bogger that does get into water half way plus on the doors. When it's not in water it's tree limb grabber, and blocks some vision on that side. I don't like the looks of it, but I need it. It's a MUD BOGGER. 

 If you're going to mud bog your brand new Colorado in chest high water, butcher one on. 

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I know for a fact nobody in MA will be doing that - take a truck off road, and you'll just about be tossed in prison. God forbid you trample some plants in this utopia ...

 

Sad thing is, at least around here, the only people who can afford this thing will be using it to commute to the high-rise in the city. The only off-roading it will ever see is when it gets parked on the front lawn of their $750k-dollar hip-roof colonial,  to make room for guests at their summer wing-ding ... or, when they back it over the neighbor's flowers.

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      One of the options Chevy will offer through dealers is a shorter, cut off exhaust tip. We strongly recommend this if you’re going rock crawling. Many of us “modified” the longer exhaust tips when crawling off rocks.
       

       
      After crawling a rock canyon we grouped to head for lunch. Parked on a hill with loose sand and the tranny set in 4WD high, there wasn't enough traction. Locking the rear differential made climbing the hill as simple as stepping on the throttle, in that low traction situation. Having complete control over axles and each wheel made off roading and rock crawling easy, even for beginners.
       
      Note that, in our opinion, the Duramax doesn't deliver optimum fuel economy for the Bison. It's good, but not great. Where it shines is in torque availability for off roading. We can see the Bison with Duramax as a perfect combination for off road camping, adventuring, and modest towing. It's quiet. While on our rock crawls, there was never a sound from the chassis, no wracking, graunching, squeaks or rattles other than when we skidded over rock on those Boron steel protectors. It was billet solid. In fact, we'd go so far as to say our Bison was quieter than a standard Silverado and totally ready for any off road adventure.
       

       
      Interested in the Colorado ZR2? Join the GM-Trucks.com Colorado ZR2 Facebook Group!
    • By Gorehamj

      John Goreham
      Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
      12-6-2018
       
      These images were recently posted to the Colorado ZR2 club on Facebook by member Matt Feldermann. Matt is an employee at American Expedition Vehicles , GM's partner on the Bison trim of the Colorado ZR2. As you know if you follow the truck, the Bison comes with a bad-ass front bumper. One of the key features of which is to enable a front winch to be mounted. Matt's post helped explain one thing we have always wondered about off-road trucks. Why so few come with a winch option or even a winch mounting point. "Cooling was the #1 concern shared by GM when installing a winch," says Matt. "The positioning of a winch in the AEV Bison bumper is OE validated to have NO effect on cooling whatsoever."

      Matt also shared that, "You can see a bracket welded to the tube that holds the winch. It’s a bit unorthodox, but that’s what had to happen to fit a winch on while maximizing approach angles."

      Our thanks to Matt for sharing his images.  
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