A BULL BAR CO­NUN­DRUM

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - MAIL -

I cur­rently have a wrap around nudge bar sup­plied by ARB as a stan­dard af­ter­mar­ket prod­uct to Toy­ota. I want to up­grade this to a bull bar for aes­thetic rea­sons.

HERE ARE THE PROB­LEMS, HOW­EVER:

1. Only the top sup­pli­ers have stock, at in­flated prices.

2. Most of the com­pa­nies that I’ve spo­ken to say that you must fit spac­ers to keep the nose up. Oth­ers say this is not nec­es­sary, with some say­ing you should up­grade the front sus­pen­sion as well, at great cost.

3. I have spo­ken with my Toy­ota dealer, who con­firmed that the in­stal­la­tion of a bull bar would not af­fect my war­ranty, which I ex­tended to five years/90 000km on pur­chase.

4. I have owned a 1980 Toy­ota 4×4 sin­gle cab and fit­ted a full metal bull bar and a 1 000lb (454kg) OX winch, with no prob­lem.

5. My 1987 Toy­ota had a mas­sive steel bull bar fit­ted and no winch, with­out giv­ing any prob­lems.

Are the sug­ges­tions above merely for com­pa­nies to make more money from the un­in­formed, or are they gen­uine? Bryan Brett via email I have for­warded your mail on to TJM PTA East’s Han­sie Coet­zee and will send his re­ply to you. In the mean­time, we can of­fer some ba­sic ad­vice:

In our ex­pe­ri­ence you can fit a full bull bar to a stan­dard bakkie. How­ever, it de­pends on the weight of the bar, as well as your driving style. Your mod­ern Hilux’s in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion is softer sprung that the 1980 ver­sion, which had a solid front axle (SFA). So the newer bakkie will feel the effect of a heavy bull bar more than the 1980 bakkie.

The old Hilux was never very fast, while the 2014 model can eas­ily do 120km/h. The per­ceived safety is­sue comes in when you sud­denly need to brake very hard, say from 120km/h... then the ex­tra weight of the bull bar can cause the nose of the bakkie to dive much more than it would have in stan­dard trim. This in turn means the rear tyres have less con­tact with the road sur­face, re­duc­ing not only brak­ing per­for­mance but if the ‘bak’ is empty and you swerve while brak­ing, it could cause the bakkie’s tail to slide side­ways –ob­vi­ously not what you want.

The ex­tra weight on the nose may have an ad­verse af­fect on the steer­ing sys­tem – a ve­hi­cle fit­ted with a heavy bar nor­mally has a heav­ier steer­ing (harder to turn the wheel) than a sim­i­lar model with­out a bar.

That’s why some com­pa­nies will sug­gest a sus­pen­sion up­grade along with a bar, to en­sure your ve­hi­cle re­mains safe. We’re not sure about the sus­pen­sion lift though. Also, you get bars and you get bars, so there are a lot of vari­ables to con­sider.

We will ask Han­sie to pro­vide a more tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tion and re­lay his feed­back. – Ed.

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