Nudge Bars: Staying Safe in the Wild

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4X4s and high ground clearance are synonymous for off-roading, especially if you have a big SUV. But like any 4×4 owner, you should always ensure that when heading out in the wild you are also well protected from its dangers by installing aftermarket protective 4×4 accessories. Just as there are reasons to install a bonnet protector, there are also some important reasons why you need to install a bullbar. A bull bar is a type of frontal protection that is mounted on the front of the grille. Bullbars keep you safe from animal collisions, as well as impacts from trees, rocks, and bushes which can damage your vehicle. Furthermore, they also improve your vehicle’s approach angle. Some bullbars go over the headlights while others don’t, but the ones that are most commonly used by regular off-roading adventurers are known as nudge bars.

Are Nudge Bars Effective?

While a full-on bullbar will provide the best level of protection, it will also add the most weight, which can hurt fuel economy. For that reason, a nudge bar is considered the more fitting solution. Why? Because all proper nudge bars for sale you see today have been improved upon for years, and now offer decent levels of protection without affecting the fuel economy as much. A nudge bar offers the perfect combination of safety and convenience whilst being easy to install.

nudge bars
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How to Install Nudge Bar

SUV

  1. The first thing you need to do is remove the dust plate of your vehicle by removing the screws that hold it in place. Then, you need to take off one bolt as shown in the instruction manual provided with your nudge bar. This is where you’ll typically install the bracket.
  2. You do the same thing for both brackets, only finger-tightening them for now. The same thing needs to be done for the support bracket as well. After you’ve done that, you’ll need to remove the plug in the chassis of your vehicle. This is where you’ll need to use a long screwdriver to remove the top plug.
  3. After the removal of the top plug, you should proceed by inserting a T-bolt on each plug you just removed. You should make sure you place the T-bolts so that they don’t touch any hoses. With the T-bolts in place, you then need to fasten the brackets to them.
  4. Once you’ve done that with both brackets, get the dust plate and put it against the brackets. Outline where the brackets are on the dust plate with a marker. This is where you’ll need to cut into the dust plate in order to install it back where it was.
  5. With the cutting done, place the dust plate back where it was and put the screws that were holding it back in place. With that done, get your nudge bar and bolt it onto the brackets using an impact driver. Make sure to fasten the bolts only up to about 90%. This will give you some leeway so that you can ensure that the nudge bar is level and snug against your vehicle. 
  6. Once you’ve made all the adjustments needed, fully tighten the nudge bar without using the impact driver. Double-check all the bolts and ensure that they are tight before you lower down the vehicle or slide out from under it and you’re all done.

Van

  1. The process of installing a nudge bar on a van is a bit different in the beginning since you don’t need to get under the vehicle. However, you need to remove the front bumper, and you also need to mount the holding brackets where the bumper would sit.
  2. This process is a lot easier, since once you’ve installed the holding brackets you just place the bar on them and adjust their position as you tighten them. When you align the nudge bar properly, just tighten the brackets fully and you’re good to go.

What Nudge Bar Material is Best?

nudge bars
source: midrandcanopies.com

Steel

What impacts a nudge bar’s performance is the material it’s made of. Steel nudge bars for sale are known for their high tensile strength, which makes them the best when it comes to absorbing impacts. On the downside, steel 4×4 nudge bars are also the heaviest.

Plastic

With a plastic front nudge bar, you can expect the least level of protection, but also the least amount of impact on fuel consumption. Being the most lightweight option gives plastic nudge bars an advantage but at the cost of safety.

nudge bars
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Aluminium

If you want to benefit from the level of protection that steel nudge bars offer and the lightweightness of plastic nudge bars at the same time, go for aluminium nudge bars. Aluminium nudge bars are nearly as strong as steel bars and nearly as light as plastic ones, and they have one feature that can’t be found on either steel or plastic bars – the naturally occurring layer of oxide that keeps the nudge bar safe from corrosion.