Adding a custom off road bumper to your rig is not only one of coolest mods you can make, besides a lift kit, it’s actually a practical decision if you plan to hit the trails often or you want to protect your investment in a unique way. Since you’ve been thinking about adding an off road bumper to your Jeep or truck let’s first go over some important information to know about 4×4 specialty bumpers before you go shopping.
Some important details to consider when shopping for aftermarket bumpers are the differences between steel and aluminum, how adding a bumper might affect your driving experience, and maybe most importantly what awesome accessories are suitable for them.
Factory bumpers are okay if you’re only planning to crawl the mall, but when you finally graduate to real wheeling you’ll want to upgrade quickly. Why? Simply put, most factory bumpers are not built to take the abuse of off-roading. For starters, your factory bumper probably has a minimum amount of steel or aluminum bracing underneath the bumper cover, which is sometimes made of ABS plastic. While there are countless applications for ABS, the most widely identifiable are keys on a computer keyboard, power-tool housing, the plastic faceguard on wall sockets and LEGO toys. Stock bumpers also don’t easily accommodate common aftermarket accessories like winches or light bars.
Base aftermarket replacement bumpers look similar to factory bumpers but are made to give a slightly custom look. This type of replacement bumper is manufactured to blend in with the contours of your truck, unlike most aftermarket bumpers. Another noticeable trait is the absence of grille guards or push bars attached to these bumpers. A base bumper will give your work truck or daily driver a more robust look, more durability and more strength than your stock bumper. This style is great anyone wanting a moderate upgrade that also allows for adding a winch and brighter fog lamps later on.
Aluminum is an okay alternative to factory bumpers because of their lightweight, but if you’re into rock climbing with your 4×4, this type of bumper is not for you, as collisions tend to weaken aluminum bumpers by straining bolts or welds. Nevertheless, if you go mudding a lot instead of offroading then an aluminum bumper is great since they will not rust or oxidize like steel can. In addition, since aluminum is lighter than steel it will not affect your rigs ride quality as much as a heavy steel bumper might.
Pre-runner bumpers are unique, add a different style and flair to your typical base bumper. Offroad pre-runner front bumpers have a bull bar or push bar welded onto the front or top of the bumper. This additional bracing gives your bumper extra strength, support or more light mounting options. Push bar bumpers can be customized with an optional winch mount from most brands and usually accommodate from two to four fog lamps on or underneath the Prerunner bar. We carry some of the top replacement bumper brands like Road Armor, Fab Fours, Iron Cross, and Tough Country
Bullnose bumpers are fabricated to fit the lines of your truck but also give a unique off-road look to the front of your truck. Bullnose bumpers are somewhat different from other bumpers with a push bars because the bullnose bumpers are usually reinforced and stronger than some other bumper styles. A steel front bumper combined with the bullnose pipe creates a solid centralized point of defense. These bullnose style bumpers are designed to be easily upgraded with off-road lights.
Bumpers with built on grille guards provide the greatest protection for your truck by sheltering your headlights and grille from front-end collisions from cars or in rural areas wildlife. Some manufacturers like Ranch Hand, Tough Country, and Road Armor specialize in making rugged one-piece bumpers that will protect your rig. In general, there are two main styles of Grille Guards Bumpers: Diamond Plate and Smooth Finish. The diamond plate bumpers, also known as checker plate, have a tread plate with a regular pattern of raised diamonds or lines on one side, with the reverse side being featureless. On the other hand, the Smooth Finish bumpers are shiny like other chrome accents
A Modular Bumper is like the Mr. Potato Head of offroad bumpers. Modular bumpers are unique because the wings and bull bar options are all bolt on. With this style of a bumper, you can add or remove different accessories easily as your needs change. This type of aftermarket bumper will allow you to get the most out of your Jeep.
One popular style of aftermarket bumpers are tubular bumpers. Tube bumpers have been admired for decades among Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts and are available to fit both the front and rear of your Jeep. Although a tube bumper is primarily added to change the style and look, most people try to find practicality in their new bumper by adding one that serves multiple purposes. Some tube bumpers like the Smittybilt SRC Tubular Front Bumper offer winch upgradability too so don’t be afraid to look into a tubular bumper.
The Jeep Stinger Bumper is a special kind of bumper designed to prevent your Jeep from tipping forward when traversing steep descents or climbing over large obstacles. For the adventurous off-roader, navigating through difficult terrain can be a hazardous affair. However, with the Stinger bumper, your safety and that of your vehicle are that much more reinforced. Here are a few reasons that the stinger would be a good choice for your favorite bumpy trail. 99% of the time people do it for looks, but it’s supposed to be winch spot/toe strap spot for keeping the nose down when getting tippy or tipping over in the front (nose dive). Large stingers are used to prevent rollover. The stinger sticking up over the hood will protect the radiator and prevent it from getting damaged bad enough that you cannot drive your jeep. It may also help you slide up the rocks on the approach when crawling.
HD Bumpers will usually have an all-steel construction with a textured powder coated finish and some of these Heavy Duty Bumpers are even commercially rated for your work trucks. It’s not just the durability that makes an HD bumper a good option since they can be customized to your specific style too. Additionally, most HD Bumpers can be ordered with or without tubular grille guards and some can even reuse your stock towing hooks. The bumpers that can’t use the factory hooks will come with welded eyelets for D-shackles already attached, but that’s mostly contingent on the exact truck application. Finally, many HD bumpers will fit on diesel trucks and will most likely work with your new oversized tires.
The majority of offroad steel bumpers are powder-coated to better resist corrosion, scrapes, and minor dings. Power coated still will let you avoid extensive damage in most situations. Steel bumpers can hold up to off-road use and can be dented without any sort of major effect on the strength of bumper. A steel bumper may influence your vehicle’s ride quality a little, and the solution may be to upgrade the springs and shocks or just change out the shocks. The front of your truck or Jeep may sit a few inches lower after adding a steel front bumper. With these sagging will come a slight loss of vehicle clearance. It’s good to be aware of this potential sagging before you invest in your new bumper and you may not notice anything until you go over large obstacles and speed bumps. The best way to prevent this sagging is to add new springs. Traditionally steel bumpers were very thick, but nowadays with all the newest technologies in place, the gauge of the steel had been decreasing as the strength of the steel has been increasing. This technological revolution has allowed the creation of steel bumpers that are lighter stronger, and more weather resistant than ever before.
So basically you’ve got a lot of options, but it really comes down to this. Stock bumpers and aluminum bumpers should not be used for most offroading trails. Any trails that have large, unavoidable boulders is a bad idea for factory bumpers. Aluminum bumpers don’t protect or hold up as much as steel, and factory bumpers are completely out of the question for that type of hard-core use. Conversely, steel can take a licking and keep on kicking! If your steel front bumper gets dinged, it will not hurt anything other than its appearance, because steel is just that tough.
Some of the most popular brands we install include Road Armor Bumpers, Ranch Hand Bumpers, Iron Cross Bumpers, Fab Four Bumpers, ICI Bumpers, Tough Country Bumpers, Addictive Desert Design Bumpers, JCR Bumpers and Go Rhino Bumpers.