Body Mounted Accessories
Bush or bull bars are now commonplace on vehicles from minibus taxis to four-wheelers. They are made of aluminum, mild steel or stainless tubing are fitted either because the driver wants genuine protection from the possibility of hitting an animal at speed or to look macho around town. Either way, they are useful items when it comes to filling winches, spotlights and grille guards. In the past it was fashionable to fit overly heavy steel wrap-around tubes designed by frustrated civil engineers who, during their during their working lives always wanted to build suspension bridges. and most bull-bars sold are lighter and look better too.
Here are some points to consider when selecting a bull-bar:
- Is your vehicle equipped with airbags? If so, only an air-bag compatible bull-bar is acceptable. Non-approved bull-bars may prevent correct deployment of an air bag.
- Bull-bars designed to ward off serious impact are broad, tall and lead forward, causing whatever it meets to be pushed downwards, protecting the windscreen and passengers. this type of bull bar is not necessarily made from very large diameter piping-the strength of its design is its heavy mounting.
- Check that the design does not affect the vehicles approach angle.
- should the upper bar of a bull bar be higher than the bonnet, light from the headlight will strike the bar and shine back at the driver. This can be very annoying.
- If you intend to fit a winch at a later date select a bull bar with an integral winch mount. Many cannot be retrofitted with a winch!
- Take a close look at the mounting points- these are going to absorb any impact, and not the tubing. Thick heavy mounts and light mounts can make things worse- if the steel piping has no ‘give’ or the mounts are weak, a light impact at one end of the bar can push it back along its entire length, and damage the bodywork on the other side of the vehicle. Wrap-around bars are more prone to this.
- Painted bull-bars require periodic repainting and look cheap.
- Alloy A-bars are light and protect the radiator and nothing else. they make good mounts for lights.
- Brand new aluminum bull-bars look dull over time.
- Powder coating is corrosion and scratch resistant and surfaces also look good.
Running boards/Rock sliders
Side-steps are often the firsts items to get damaged on an off-road vehicle. there are two schools of thought: most after market side-steps, unless designed by people who actually go off road, are a hindrance to off-road driving because they lower the clearance. Some are so badly designed that they jut out from the vehicles side, smearing trousers with mud or dust and do not assist access to any degree. The other thought is that they are damaged first, protecting the more valuable bodywork. I guess both are good points. Rock sliders are purposely designed side steps that replace running boards. Not only do they not get easily damaged, they are (or should be) strong enough to enable the vehicle’s weight to rest on them.
Bumpers and Towing Equipment
Tow-bars, bull bars and bumpers frequently adversely affect the vehicle’s ability to traverse uneven ground. Fitment centres, enthusiasts and while less common these days, the manufacturers themselves make this mistake. keeping all such modifications as close to the bodywork and as high as possible to prevent degrading the departure and approach angles. when de-bogging a vehicle, use the vehicle’s towing eyes to attach cables and ropes in preference to apparatus which is not designed to withstand the loads that can be created by snatch straps or winches.
To make launching a boat easier, fit towing apparatus to the front of your vehicle. Positioning the tow-bar off-center to the left. This will allow the driver to see alongside the trailer which will improve directional control. Do not fit the tow bar close to the ground because if it is low, the stern of the boat will be higher, which means the vehicle will have to push the trailer further and the stern lower. in other words, the boat will float off the trailer in shallower water. And, a low-slung front towing apparatus gets in the way, in a big way, off-road.