A bull bar is a tubular product that installs in front of the front bumper (primarily for pickup trucks and SUV’s). It is specifically designed to fit the vehicle it is made for. A bull bar will provide protection for the front of a vehicle from collisions. It is the perfect place to mount auxiliary lights without needing to drill holes in the vehicle. Anyone who drives off-road will appreciate the function and ‘look’ of a bull bar. For the urban cowboy a bull bar puts your vehicle on a level far above the crowd.
A grill guard is very similar to a bull bar, but larger with components that protect the headlights and hood. In Australia they call them Roobars, as they are protection should a Kangaroo stray onto the road.
Black powder coated steel is the least expensive material. However where you are located will have a huge impact on the life of your bull bar or grill guard. As you move north into the snow areas stainless steel or aluminum is the best option. Bull bars are available in black powder coated steel, polished stainless steel (chrome like), black stainless steel and black aluminum finishes. Unfortunately grill guards only come in polished stainless and black steel finishes. For northern climate regions you can prolong the life of a black grill guard by having it sprayed with a truck box liner material or spray a stainless steel grill guard and you will have a black grill guard that will outlast your truck.
Bull bars are designed to keep them as close to the vehicle and as high as possible. They should have minimal impact on ground clearance and can absorb contact with obstacles before they impact the bumper and other components.
A grill guard is the heavier accessory and should have minimal impact on the front suspension. Some smaller light duty SUV’s may experience a softer feel in the front end with some impact on handling. Bull bars weigh very little and should have no impact on your vehicle handling or suspension.
With technical advances and added features comes complications. Depending on the vehicle design a bull bar can interfere with front impact sensors, front cameras and adaptive cruise control features. Any such conflicts should be determined before ordering and installing a bull bar or grille guard.
For a black powder coated steel product, keep it clean and touch up chips with automotive paint. In a northern climate apply a thin layer of grease or vaseline to welded areas and damaged areas in the late fall. Polished stainless steel and aluminum bull bars should only require regular cleaning. Occasionally you might get some rust stains from the steel hardware holding the bar together. For polished stainless finishes remove the stain by rubbing acr wax over the surface using 000 steel wool. All other finishes are best cleaned with a product such as CLR.