By Bryan Martin, special to Land Line
It used to be you only saw these big ol’ massive bumpers on trucks from up north where the deer and elk population is thick, or where the term “open range” means look out for cattle standing in the roadway.
Nowadays you see a truck equipped with one every few miles. So is it a bull bar, a cow catcher, a ’roo bar, a moose bumper or an elk pusher? Well, actually all of these would be acceptable, but the technical term we will use for today’s lesson is “grille guard.”
When these first became commonplace a few years ago, drivers purchased them solely for the protection they offered in the case of a high-speed collision with an animal. Today, that is still the primary reason for equipping your truck with one. However the many different styles available from various manufacturers have truck owners installing a grille guard for both protection and enhanced appearance. These massive front bumpers give your rig an intimidating, menacing and aggressive look, which enables them to stand out in a crowd.
Consider this: Let’s say you unfortunately clobber a large deer and it wipes out your bumper, grille, hood, headlight, air conditioner condenser and air charge cooler. The tow truck takes you to the closest body shop and 10 days later – after your insurance company shells out $15,000 for the paint and repairs and you cough up $1,000 for the deductible – you’re ready to get back on the road and start working again.
After two weeks with no work, you are chompin’ at the bit to get back on the road and get some money coming in, only to find that you get a letter from your insurance company letting you know your premiums are going up. Go figure, eh?
After an experience like that – which happens quite often and is no fault of the driver – it makes the investment in a grille guard seem like a no-brainer. My research resulted in grille guards ranging from $1,800 to $6,800, depending on the manufacturer and the level of protection offered.
One manufacturer stated “weight of the grille guard directly correlates with the level of protection offered,” and I tend to agree. These front-end protection devices are available in steel, aluminum and stainless steel. The steel models are typically powder coated, have bed-liner applied or painted, whereas the aluminum and stainless models are shiny.
All of the grille guards are designed so that by flipping a latch or removing two bolts, the grille guard hinges down and away from the grille allowing the driver to easily tilt his hood.
Luverne offers the ProTec model, which is constructed of 3-inch tube and is available in polished stainless steel or with a black powder coat finish. Easy install is designed into each one of them as they mount to the trucks factory tow pin locations. Weighing in at under 200 pounds these bull bars are stylish and economical. The ProTec line of grille guards offers good protection, great looks – and all at an affordable cost.
Delirious Fabrications, located in Norfolk, Neb., builds heavy-duty steel grille guards for most truck models, and all of them can be custom-tailored to the drivers liking at time of order. Delirious grille guards weigh approximately 400 to 575 pounds, can be tilted to access hood in a quick 20 seconds, and are sprayed with a bed liner material that is available to match the paint color of your truck. Their products carry a one-year warranty that covers the guard and the color coating. Delirious grille guards are priced at $3,450 and up, depending on options.
Magnum Trailers manufactures a grille guard for just about every make and model of Class 8 truck on the road. Their products are all constructed out of thick aluminum with steel mounting brackets and are available in three or four styles. Magnum guards start at $3,000, weigh from 300 to 400 pounds, and can be installed in a couple of hours. Covered by a one-year warranty, they feature a quick-latch system that allows you to tilt the grille guard forward in a matter of two to three seconds.
Herd grille guards are also constructed of sturdy aircraft grade aluminum, featuring steel reinforcement plates integrated into the aluminum for added protection. Weighing in at 250 to 350 pounds, they start at $2,500 and are manufactured in several models such as the Defender, Road Train, Super Road Train, Texas and Big Texas styles. Warranty is one year. Installation time is generally one to two hours, and they are available with a new “slam latch” tilting system that makes tilting the guard as easy as lowering a pickup truck tailgate.
BFG – The Big Front Grille guards are manufactured from shiny 304 stainless steel, weigh in at less than 300 pounds, easily install in under three hours, and carry a six-month warranty. With pricing starting at $2,295 plus shipping, these guards provide protection as well as the low-maintenance shine that only stainless steel offers. Their dual independent latch system allows a driver to tilt the grille guard and hood forward without the use of tools. BFG is adding grille guards for additional new truck models this summer, and they also offer preferred pricing for OOIDA members.
Lincoln Chrome is in the process of developing a line of high-end, highly cosmetic chrome plated grille guards for Class 8 trucks that should be available in late 2013. Preliminary designs feature massive 4-inch and 5-inch stainless steel tube designs to provide not only protection and functionality, but robust appearance too. Lincoln Chrome is best noted for its line of truck exhaust pipes and launched a line of sun visors and bumpers in 2012.
I have heard dozens of stories from guys who do have bull bars on their trucks and hit cows, elk, dogs, rocks and other road hazards with literally no more than a scratch or scrape to their rig, which tells us loud and clear … these devices really do work! LL