Bull Bar Vs Brush Guard Comparison Guide (Legality and Effectiveness.)
As of September 2022, truck and SUV and truck sales increased by 10.3%, increasing the market share to 78.9% vs. a 21.2% market share for passenger vehicles in the USA. With their increasing popularity, SUVs and trucks are now more mainstream, being driven by Wallstreet bankers, soccer moms, and ranchers. Therefore, it’s no surprise the demand for aftermarket parts to enhance truck appearance and protection during collisions, has increased.
In these harsh economic times, what wouldn’t you do to guarantee your truck drives off with minimal damage after an accident? The costs saved on potential truck repairs alone are a major selling point for the installation of aftermarket bumper guards.
The only question that remains is ‘what’s the difference between bull bars and brush guards?’
Although similar, there’s a big difference in size and function. Brush guards are larger equipment that covers the entire truck grille, including the headlights, and offer more protection during a collision. A bull bar is smaller than a grille guard and only covers the grille providing limited bumper protection in collisions.
Bull bars are perfect for truck or SUV owners after a rugged aesthetic, while brush guards are ideal for those needing ample protection during collisions.
To help you make an informed decision, I’ve prepared a comprehensive comparison of bull bars and brush guards, complete with pros and cons. We’ll also dive into questions of legality and effectiveness.
Difference Between Brush Guards and Bull Bars
Let’s discuss the differences between the two in detail.
Aside from their differences in appearance, brush/grille guards and bull bars serve different protection purposes. Brush guard protection is broader and wraps around the headlights. They protect the vehicle’s front end from long grasses, branches, rocks, and wildlife offroad.
On the other hand, bull bar protection is limited but still protects an important part of the vehicle – the engine. With thick metal tubes and rugged skid plates, bull bars can better withstand the impact of debris and ricks. They are designed mainly for minor or moderate collisions with deer, cattle, and other wildlife.
Differences Between Bull Bars and Grille Guards
|Have a complex design with multiple vertical and horizontal bars of different thickness
|Have a simple design
|Some have metal meshes on the main grille
|Two vertical and horizontal bars and have an A shape
|Contoured and wrapped around the side fenders
|Narrow in height and width
|Protects the lower half and center of the truck/SUV grille.
|Brush guard tubing isn't as thick as bull bars'. Usually have a diameter of 1.5 to 2 inches
|Thicker tubing. Usually have a diameter of 2 to 3 inches
Brush Guards Pros and Cons
- The headlights are left exposed to damage
- The skid plates can block the license plate
- Severe and moderate collisions can damage the engine compartment
- Higher-end models are expensive
Can You Install a Bull or Grille Guard Alone?
Despite being large, heavy, and bulky, you can install brush guards yourself but with some help mounting them. The same is true for bull bars, although they are lighter than brush guards. Every kit usually comes with every piece of hardware they need for installation.
As for the skills required, provided you have wrenches and a sharp and level knife, you are good to go. The biggest installation challenge is lifting and positioning the hardware while fastening the bolts.
Regardless of the equipment you choose, the number one goal is to attach the bar or guard under the vehicle.
Are Bull Guards Legal?
Bull bare are legal in the US. In fact, many law enforcement vehicles have one installed. However, it's worth mentioning that installing a bull bar on your vehicle can cause problems with your insurance provider. In light of this, you should review your policy before installing it on your SUV or truck.
Do bull bars and brush guards affect MPG?
This is a valid question, especially for heavier brush guards. Most are made from heavy metal and weigh over 100 pounds. But their weight brush guards and bull bars have little (if any) effect on a vehicle's MPG.
Do Bull Bars Function against Deer?
Given its design, it's unlikely that a bull bar will provide you, your passengers, and the vehicle with ample protection if you strike a deer. Depending on the angle of impact, the bull bar will take most of the impact, but the truck will still suffer some damage.
Do brush guards work against deer impact?
Unlike bull guards, brush guards are more effective in case of a deer strike. This is mainly because brush guards wrap around your vehicle's front bumper, providing sufficient protection.
Note: at high speeds, the vehicle may still experience damage.
Will bull bars interfere with vehicle parking sensors?
Yes, the bull bars may mess with the front parking sensors. Although the sensors may not be completely unusable, the bull bars will feed the sensors with wrong obstacle information or block them from sensing real obstacles.
Do Brush Guards Affect Airbags?
Another concern motorists have is that bull bars or brush guards may affect airbag deployment. Their concerns are valid since airbag deployment is triggered by the impact and crumpling of certain spots on the front of the vehicle.
Depending on your vehicle, the spot of impact, and whether you have a brush guard or bull bar installed, airbag deployment might be unsuccessful.
If you want to avoid this problem, consult with the vehicle's manufacturer regarding types of brush guards or bull bars that won't interfere with airbag operation in your vehicle. It might be a complicated or lengthy process, but it's worth it to have your airbags during a collision. Their deployment will ensure you sustain lesser injuries, and the insurance company cannot wiggle out of compensation.
Do They Cause Rust?
Grille guards and bull guards are made of stainless steel and mild steel and come in different finishes. Gloss, Chrome, and matter are the most common choices and are treated with rust-resistant coatings to preserve their finish. Manufacturers recommend periodic applications of car wax to protect the brush guards and bull bars to maintain their appearance.
Since brush guards are mounted on brackets, they attach to key structural points on the vehicle's body or frame without drilling. As such, there's little risk of rusting.
For a long time, pickup trucks were utilitarian and were often found in ranches. Today, they frequent offroad and city streets, too, as they are sportier and sleeker, appealing to many people.
With the truck/SUV’s growing popularity, bull bars and brush guards are becoming popular too. For offroaders, it's more about protection, and for city folks, it's more about the beauty they add.
Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m the Founder and Editor behind Rugged Driving.
I made this site to share what I have learned as an off-road enthusiast. I hope my personal experience will help you enjoy this exciting activity even more!