When it comes to the front-end protection of your vehicle, there are a few paths you can take. The first is to do absolutely nothing and rely on your stock bumper bar. Sure, you might be the most careful driver around, but don’t think others are. Stock bumpers offer little protection to the engine innards or the chassis. They’ll be dented or cracked from minor mishaps in the car park, let alone survive a head-on collision with another vehicle. If you’re doing short rounds to the mall, then sure, you’ll be fine. But if you commute daily for hours at a time, better be safe than sorry. Here nudge and bull bars come in handy. They’ll keep you and your vehicle unscathed in most minor accidents.
What are Nudge Bars?
Nudge bars are metal bars that need little in the way of installation but provide decent protection. They extend up to the height of the radiator and will help in avoiding any nasty scratches or dents in the paintwork and also keep everything in the engine bay safe. They’re fitted with brackets in mounting points in the chassis. Unlike with full bull bars, the bumper stays on, meaning you also get a good look at your car. This can be anything from small sedans and hatchbacks to large 4WDs.
What are Nudge Bars Made of?
If vehicle protection is important, look for parts with high tensile strength and resistance to the elements. Most nudge bars are made of strengthened aluminium or stainless steel. The tubing is wide and thick enough to survive minor collisions without visible damage. Coatings on the nudge bars enhance the look, but also mean they’ll last longer, especially in rainy or dusty conditions. All the connecting brackets are made of the same sturdy materials.
What to look for in Nudge Bars
The first thing to look for when buying nudge bars is vehicle compatibility. Can they be fitted to your car? Nudge bars fit 4WDS like ties fit suits, seamlessly and with a purpose. You’ll find bars to fit almost any vehicle sold in Australia, new or old. There are aftermarket models for bestselling cars, like Ford Ranger nudge bars, or obscure vehicles sold in low numbers. Mounting brackets need to fit the chassis without major modifications or drilling.
Compatibility also means any standard features on your vehicle won’t be affected by fitting a nudge bar. For example, Ford Ranger nudge bars won’t interrupt with the standard cameras or airbag sensors seen in cars with the fitted tech packs.
Nudge bars offer more than just front-end protection. Strengthened variants have mid-section crossbars or include bash plates for pushing away almost anything you come across on the tarmac. This will keep the steering and underbody unscathed from debris, or metal and rubber shavings.
To add to their functionality, nudge bars have mounting holes on either side to fit such goodies as fog lights and CB antennas. This is good is you often drive in remote and unlit areas. Other things that you can attach are integrated H-racks to help keep larger objects like pipes, planks and ladders on the roof racks secure.
Benefits of Nudge Bars
Nudge bars have benefits over both stock bumper bars and full bull bars. They are built tough and to a standard and will remain intact in any collisions at lower speeds. This means your ute won’t be damaged if you’re slow on the brake in places like car parks or when you’re stuck in heavy traffic. A bumper bar by comparison will shatter in such cases, leading to potential issues in the engine bay or chassis rail bars.
For urban driving, nudge bars are also better than having a full bull bar. If you don’t take your car off-road, or just go for the odd drive on dirt trails, you won’t need the full protection of bull bars. This means a lower weight that can affect both your driving style and bump up fuel consumption. You won’t need to modify the suspension to accommodate the extra weight and the resulting height issues. When installing, a nudge bar fits seamlessly with the bumper bar. This is not the case with bull bars, which require major modifications including drilling and changes to headlight and sensor wiring. The sheer size and heft of bull bars means bumpers are removed, something that might put off buyers when you’re thinking of selling.
Then, there’s the cost. Aftermarket Ford Ranger nudge bars and bars for other cars come in way cheaper than even the cheapest bull bars. Nudge bars are built of the same sturdy coated metals, just in a smaller form factor. Also, you’ll pay a lot less for labour if you get the bar professionally installed as there is a lot less work involved. For what you get, decent protection, functionality and good looks, you’re in for a good deal.
Buying Nudge Bars
Nudge bars are sold by all stores stocking vehicle protection. More models are available for 4WDs and utes, like nudge bars for Ford Ranger, but you can add a nudge bar to most cars. When buying, look for the right nudge bar for your make and model, any included mounts for installation, and handy features. A good idea is to get a quote for a professional fit.