Depending on your vehicle, and the type of body armor and protection you need, bull bar installation can range from a super-easy, Saturday afternoon love fest to a driveway-hosted bloodmatch between you, the bull bar and every tool in your garage. A lot depends on the vehicle and your level of expertise, but it’s mostly dependent on the bull bar itself. So, ask yourself, “What’s it made of?” and “Who made it?”
Some of the biggest names in the bull bar business are Westin, Aries, Steelcraft and Dee Zee. They’re all pretty similar, and each brand uses top-notch materials — like stainless steel. But that doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. So long as you do your homework, you’re sure to get a great bull bar.
The installation process
Now that you’ve got your hands on the bull bar of your choice, here are some general installation steps. We’d tell you exactly how to do it, but we don’t know what you drive or which bar you’re getting.
- Open the packaging of your bull bar and read the installation instructions.
- Check to make sure you have all the necessary tools and that no parts are missing.
- Crawl under the front of your rig and locate the factory-drilled holes.
- Bolt the bull bar brackets into the holes and torque them down.
- Connect the bull bar to the mounting brackets, ensuring that everything is even and level.
- Double-check that all the bolts are tight.
How bull bars work
In many cases, manufacturers use the same bull bar part number for different vehicles that share a similar platform. Even a Silverado bull bar is going to look quite similar to a Toyota Tundra bull bar, though the mounting style will be very different. The point is, a bull bar is a bull bar, and a quality bull bar is always a better bull bar.
Most bull bar manufacturers are not marketers. They certainly know their MIG welder from their hydrogen rod, and their Honda CRV bull bar from their Ford Escape skid plate, but they usually have no time to market their stuff. That leaves a middleman, and whether it’s the off-road shop down the street or one of those online super-retailers, if you trust the guy who’s selling you the bull bars, you can trust the bull bars he’s selling you.
A tip from the mechanic
Bottom line — bull bars are large, heavy, unwieldy pieces of steel, and installing one on your own can be a real test. Instead of going it alone, recruit a friend for help. The secret is not to be bullish about it. If the friend feels bullied, or like you’re feeding him a line of bull, he or she’s likely to cow out. So, do the opposite, bowl ‘em over with promises of ice-cold beverages and piping-hot pizza, and you’re certain to have a helping hand or two hanging around on installation day.