Bull Bar Buyer’s Guide

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Whether you drive your Toyota Tundra through the urban jungle, the high plains, or along narrow, forested roads, you might have thought about picking something up to protect the front end of your truck. When you consider how much there is at stake not only under the hood, but also the expensive-to-repair bodywork and lighting, it’s clear that you should take whatever steps you can to prevent your truck from falling victim to a careless touch-parker or stray deer.

Tundra Westin bull bar.

Here’s a 2007 Toyota Tundra with a Westin Bull Bar. It has the optional skid plate and driving lights. Westin offers this bull bar in either chrome or matte black finish.

Bull bars, cow catchers, deer killers, brush guards – these are all names for essentially the same product: A protective steel framework that extends out in front of your vehicle. Needless to say, there are many different types and styles of grille-guards on the market, ranging from hardcore to pure accessory. How can you decide which brand and style is right for your needs?

The first thing you should consider is the environment in which you operate your truck, and what you spend most of your time doing with it. If you live in the city, chances are the type of protection you are looking for is fairly simple – a bar that extends up from underneath the bumper to ward off other cars in parking lots and on the street. Given your truck’s ride-height advantage, you probably don’t have to worry too much about having your headlights or side markers damaged by an impact. In this case, you can choose a simple U-shaped bar that uses 3-inch steel tubing to rise up to just underneath the chin of your truck’s grille.

Romik makes a bull bar like this which even comes with an integrated skid plate, making it a decent option for trail use as well, and giving you a good spot to mount off-road lights. Not only that, but it will add a much more aggressive look to your truck.

Romik Bull Bar on a Toyota Tundra

Here’s a photo of a Romik bull bar mounted on a Tundra. It has an integrated skid plate, and it costs less than a similar Westin bull bar.

If you find yourself driving down heavily wooded roads that aren’t always properly trimmed back, you might be cringing every time you hear a branch slap into one of your headlights or turn signals. In a situation like this, you probably need more than a standard bull bar. You should be looking at a more comprehensive option like the Sportsman 1-Piece offered by Westin. This brush guard offers side wings which provide a lattice of steel protection to cover your headlights, along with 4 very solid pieces of steel that connect across the front of your truck at various heights for maximum strength. These types of full protection bars are great for keeping your truck safe during accidental wildlife impact.

West Sportsman grille guard.

The Sportsman Grille Guard from Westin is available in black, chrome, and either modular or one-piece configurations.

For the ultimate in brush guard utility, you should consider the Aries Retriever Winch Mount Grill Guard. Offering the same level of protect as the Westin Sportsman, the Aries Retriever adds an extra cross member which is designed to permit the mounting of a winch. A good winch out on the trail means never getting stuck again – and it can also mean the difference between turning your Tundra around and going home versus pulling debris out of the road and making it to your destination.

Aries retriever grille guard. Westin Classic grille guard.

On the left, Aries new grille guard for the 07-08 Tundra. On the right, the Westin “Classic”.

Bull bars and brush guards are ultimately a mixture of personal taste and practicality. Maybe you love the look of the full front-end treatment on your city-dwelling truck, or maybe you don’t feel you need more than a standard, low-mount Westin bull bar on the ranch. Take some time to check out pictures of the products you are interested in mounted on a vehicle like yours before you take the plunge, and you’ll be confident when you lay your money down that you have made the right decision. Also, when it’s time to buy a grille guard, keep in mind that shipping costs can be pretty high. Some grille guards are one-piece, heavy, and can only be shipped by truck. So, if a company offers free shipping (like AutoAnything.com), make sure to consider the total cost (including shipping) before you buy.

Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories


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  1. Stick says:

    Do bull bars affect airbag deployment?

  2. Stick – No. The airbag sensors use accelerometers to determine deployment. As I’m sure you can imagine, the instant the vehicle strikes anything, the sensors determine how severe a crash is by measuring the rate of deceleration. The extra few inches that the bull bar sticks out won’t impact the point that the deployment occurs by much – 6 more inches at 40mph works out to the airbag deploying about 1/100th of a second sooner (shouldn’t make any difference) than it otherwise would. Since the bumper is usually the first point that an impact is felt, the steel bull bar or grille guard shouldn’t “give” any differently, so they won’t effect the deceleration rate. However, if you added five feet of bubble wrap to the front of your car, that would definitely effect the airbag. The increased distance from the front bumper would cause the airbag to fire prematurely, and the bubble wrap would artificially decrease the deceleration rate to the point that it might not fire the airbag. Of course, 5 feet of bubble wrap might also make the impact a little easier! 🙂

    • Schmstr says:

      With all due respect, I have to disagree. I had a brush bar on my 2006 tahoe when I lost control and hit a tree head on. The airbags did not deploy because the brush bar (and the frame to which it was attached) took all of the brunt of the force.

      Now, that was a full brush bar not a bull bar so that may be part of the reason. But, I was shocked that neither airbag deployed. The only possible reason that I can think of is because of the brush bar.

      Just another opinion, but I would research carefully if you have concerns about it.

  3. Stick says:

    Jason-thanks for the explanation. I thought the sensors were in the bumpers or something to that effect.

  4. TXTee says:

    Great info, Jason! I’m still considering how much need, styling, and cost to invest for the bull bar accessory upgrade. I love my billet grille and don’t really want to cover my lights so sounds like I’m only in it for aesthetics. Know of anything like the Westin classic posted above that does not have bars over the main grille?

  5. TXTee – Thanks! I’ve seen something without bars over the grill, but I can’t remember where.

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