With all the new 4WD’s on the market today with unique styles and appearances, it’s increasingly difficult for people to choose a bull bar that’s ideal for your vehicle and not just one that makes it look good! After all, the primary function of a bull bar is to protect your vehicles vital components in the event of an animal strike or other collision. Additionally, your bull bar acts as a mounting system for other 4WD accessories like driving lights, antennas, winches, and light bars.
When choosing a bull bar that’s suitable for your vehicle, you must consider several factors such as your everyday driving routes, the type of touring you’ll be doing, how much cargo you typically carry, and the type of accessories you wish to mount. There are heaps of different brands of bull bars on the market, so it’s crucial that your bull bar is well designed, engineered and manufactured to Australian standards, and compatible with your vehicle’s safety system such as your vehicle’s airbags, active cruise control systems, parking sensors, and blinkers.
To give you some insight into what you should be looking for when purchasing a new bull bar for your vehicle, here are our top 4 tips.
You have three choices of materials to select from: steel, aluminium, or plastic. The type of bull bar you choose ultimately depends on the type of driving you’ll be doing. Will you be driving in rural highways during kangaroo season, or do you just want some added protection for urban use?
Steel bull bars are the strongest and provide the most protection to your vehicle’s front end, so if you’ll spend a lot of time off-roading or driving through animal prone areas, this would be your ideal choice. On the other hand, aluminium bull bars are also strong but they have the advantage of being considerably lighter and only have a small impact on your vehicle’s handling, tyres, and suspension. Furthermore, aluminium bull bars are generally corrosion resistant and are available in a range of attractive polished finishes which adds style to your vehicle. Lastly, plastic bull bars are effective for urban use as they are corrosion resistant and will return to their normal shape in the event of a collision. Keep in mind however, plastic bull bars are not suitable for any type of off-roading at all.
There are a wide variety of bull bar designs available to suit various levels of driving and off-roading. The design of your bull bar should be primarily based on the type of terrain you’ll be covering. Bull bars range from the triple hoop which offers the greatest front end protection, to the nudge bar which is mainly used for aesthetic appeal. If you’ll be driving in animal prone areas then you should consider a triple hoop bull bar, but if you want something stylish that offers only basic protection for urban driving, the nudge bar will probably be most suitable.
While the triple hoop bull bar protects your vehicle’s vital components such as the cooling system, bonnet, headlights, and the components under your vehicle, the single hoop bull bar is a popular choice for 4WD enthusiasts that also offers a good deal of protection. Rock crawler bull bars allows you to mount a winch and offer extreme approach angles and recovery point options. Regardless of which design you choose, it’s essential that it doesn’t interfere with your vehicle’s approach angles and ground clearance.
One of the most important considerations when selecting a bull bar is that it’s compatible with your airbag system. You don’t want to have a small collision which triggers your vehicle’s airbags resulting in a lot of pain and costly repairs. To find out if a particular bull bar is airbag compatible, simply check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Other factors to consider in modern 4WD vehicles are parking sensors, radar cruise control, emergency braking systems, and blinkers. All of these features rely on cameras and sensors so ensure that you select a bull bar that doesn’t interfere with any of these safety features.
Most bull bars are designed to mount additional 4WD products and accessories. The most useful 4WD accessory you’ll want to mount to your bull bar is a recovery winch, and some bull bars are not compatible with this. While almost all steel bull bars can have a winch bolted straight in, some aluminium and plastic bull bars will need to have a winch cradle fitted. Additionally, if you wish to fit antennas or driving lights, make sure your bull bar is compatible with them. In most cases, each bull bar will have holes and tabs for mounting driving lights and antennas.
Lastly, additional features to look for in bull bars are high-lift jack points, fog lights, daytime running lights, buffers, and cover plates. In some cases, particularly with steel bull bars, you may be required to upgrade your vehicle’s suspension to offset the additional weight of the bull bar and its accessories. There are plenty of aftermarket suspension kits available, so don’t forget to consider your vehicle’s suspension in relation to the weight of you bull bar and accessories.
There are a multitude of factors to consider when purchasing a suitable bull bar for your vehicle. Sometimes it’s best to seek professional advice to ensure you make the right decision, even if you need a bit of advice. If you have any questions about which bull bar would be best suited to your vehicle, reach out to the friendly team at TJM Australia who can assist.