A bull bar is a device that is attached to the front of the vehicle which can protect the vehicle and its passengers from a collision with an animal. Depending upon the country, it may also be called a “roo” bar in Australia. The initial name came from the need to protect against hitting cattle, and in Australia from kangaroos.
Early devices were installed only for protection, typically on four-wheel drive vehicles. Now however, these are sometimes used as accessories to give an off the road look to SUVs, trucks and even some sedans.
There is some controversy about their use. While they can offer protection to a vehicle, they can also pose a danger to pedestrians. A number of pedestrian deaths by collisions with bull bar equipped vehicles led to the European Union banning them on new cars made after January 2002. Later ridged bull bars were banned as an aftermarket accessory by the Union.
However, in the United States and Australia they are still a common accessory. Australia has passed some laws regarding the design of this type of equipment. Some manufactures use plastic in their products which would deform and is considered safer for pedestrians and the vehicle in the event of a collision.
There are two basic designs of bull bars. One design replaces the front bumper and is the heaviest and most durable style. The other design acts as an addition to the front end. Either style may block out lights, so it is common to find light mounting points on aftermarket products.
In the United States many of these products are made from highly polished stainless steel, and are designed to look attractive along with goal of additional protection. Some manufactures offer 2 1/2 inch tubing that is powder coating in black which may enhance the look of the bars.
Another style is a combination bull bar and skid plate. This combination is designed for off road driving and offers more protection to the front end of the vehicle than the earlier bull bar designs. Typical products are now made so that they can be bolted on rather than the earlier ones, which required cutting and sometimes welding for a proper fit.
If you are interested in adding a bull bar to your vehicle, you now have a variety of styles from manufactures such as Aries, Weston, Ionic, Romic, Steelcraft, and ARB. Your choices are 3 inch tubing for heavy duty use, 2 and a half for lighter use, and other products for a cosmetic look. If you are going to be going through heavy brush and possible encounters with animals, the heavier systems with skid plates are the ones you should be evaluating.