Exploring the remotest places and conquering untouched Australian trails can be one of the most exciting pastime activities for everyone who has a 4×4. In fact, many people from overseas come here just to rent a 4×4 and explore our great outback. If you own a 4×4 vehicle, and you’re planning your first off road trip this upcoming summer – great! You’re in for a world of fun and excitement. But in order to ensure everything goes just as planned, you should consider equipping your vehicle with 4 x 4 accessories that provide the needed protection.
The Australian off roads can be a tough place for your 4×4, and it can get damaged. And there’s nothing worse than being left stranded in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight. That being said some of the most important 4 x 4 accessories that provide protection to your vehicle’s vital components are the bull bar and rear bar. These multifunctional accessories are available for most 4×4 vehicles, so you can rest assured you’ll find a product that suits your model, make and year. And not only can they protect your 4×4 from getting damaged, but they also provide a range of other benefits as well.
Benefits of 4×4 Rear Bars
Rear bars, as their name implies, are installed at the back of your vehicle, and their main purpose is to protect the rear end. But they also provide a few other benefits, including:
- A higher departure angle and clearance;
- Improving the load distribution when towing;
- Serving as a mounting base for extra 4×4 accessories.
What to Look for In a 4×4 Rear Bar?
First of all, you should make sure to get an ADR approved rear bar. What this means is the rear bar has met the minimum requirements of the Australian Standard. Being ADR approved gives you the peace of mind that the product has gone through extensive testing about its quality and reliability, ensuring its suitable for the application.
Furthermore, make sure the rear bar is made of heavy-duty materials like stainless steel or aluminium, which can withstand impact. While you may find affordable plastic rear bars, the plastic will wear down much faster than aluminium and stainless steel, and it won’t offer the protection needed to take you through the harsh Australian off-roads.
Aluminium rear bars are the most expensive, as they’re lightweight, yet provide a decent amount of protection. Stainless steel rear bars provide the most protection and are corrosion- and rust-resistant, making them suitable for vehicles that are used close to the ocean, where the air is humid and contains a fair amount of salt. However, they might significantly affect the weight of your vehicle, so keep that in mind.
Ideally, the 4×4 rear bar you choose should protect not only the rear of your vehicle but the quarter panels between the back tyres and the rear of your vehicle as well. That being said, make sure to pick a 4×4 rear bar that sticks out at least 2cms on both sides of the vehicle to ensure the bar takes the damage should you slide into a rut and hit the side walls. A 4×4 rear bar can take the impact without a problem, while your panel work will require expensive repairs.
Benefits of 4×4 Bull Bars
Bull bars are located at the front of your 4×4, where they offer protection for your vehicle’s most fragile parts. In addition to this, a bull bar can offer a few other benefits as well, including:
- Providing protection for passengers in the event of an animal collision;
- Serving as a mounting base for winches, suitable off-road driving lights, UHF antennas, etc.
What to Look for In a 4×4 Bull Bar?
The same rules apply to bull bars as rear bars. You want to make sure the bull bar is ADR approved, and built of heavi-duty materials like stainless steel or aluminium. Furthermore, make sure the overall design of the bull bar is focused on the type of driving you’ll do.
For instance, if you drive in kangaroo-ridden areas, make sure the bar provides as much protection as possible to the vital parts like the cooling system, under vehicle components, bonnet and headlights. If you’re driving through rocky and scrub terrain, make sure the bull bar comes with outer tubes that are compatible with side steps or rails that offer side protection.
If your bull bar will be mainly used to mount other accessories, you may not need as much protection, but instead, you’ll want a bull bar that can have a winch mounted to it, features rated recovery points, is compatible with your airbags, parking sensors, emergency braking systems, cruise control and lane departure warning.
If you’re debating between two bull bars, one of which has rated recovery points and the other doesn’t, yet their price tags are similar, always go for the bull bar with the rated recovery points. Having rated recovery points means the bull bar has been inspected by a third-party engineer, making it more reliable and trustworthy. For people who don’t have a winch, but instead prefer to recover the vehicle with a hi-lift jack, make sure the bull bar has hi-lift jack points that allow you to safely lift your vehicle.
Look for Warranty in Both Rear and Bull Bars
Even though they’re made of strong pieces of metal, things can go wrong with both of them. In order to make sure you’re buying a quality product, buy rear and bull bars from manufacturers or suppliers who stand behind their product. This means the rear and bull bars should come with at least one year warranty plus the ability to have them serviced.
Additionally, buying from a reputable manufacturer means they probably have replacement spare parts should you ever need them, and they’re designed to be compatible with their other products, whether they are side steps, winches, etc.
Lastly, rear and bull bars from reputable manufacturers will likely be easier to install, without having to perform any additional modifications to your vehicle, as they can just use the stock bumpers’ mounting points.