A BULL BAR CONUNDRUM
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.