Grille guards. Bull bars. Brush guards. Whatever you call them, they’re a great way to add front-end protection and styling to your truck. Grille guards (the umbrella term we’ll use here) aren’t often the first upgrade truck owners make, but they’re popular nonetheless. You can find grille guards from several dozen manufacturers and for trucks from the 1950s through the current model year.
When it comes to choosing a grille guard, you have options, so we’ve put together this quick guide to selecting the right one.
How to Choose a Grille Guard
Step 1: Consider Your Coverage
There are multiple coverage options from which to choose. Finding the right grille guard often comes down to knowing your needs and understanding grille guard terminology. Here’s a basic overview:
Full Grille Guards: Popular with those looking for full front-end protection, a full grille guard typically covers the entire front-end of the vehicle. It usually consists of two vertical members bolted to your vehicle’s frame and attached to a set of horizontal tubes covering the grille and headlights.
Center Grille Guards: These are typically the same setup as the full grille guards above but lack the frame in the front of the headlights. They offer good protection and sometimes provide the ability to mount accessories like off-road lights.
Bull Bars: Originally designed for serious off-road driving, this bar was initially designed to assist the vehicle in climbing over rocks. The bar itself would cause the vehicle to bounce up over rocks or steep slopes. These often appear as tubular steel hoops that are actually mounted below the grille.
Skid Plates: Often found on bull bars, skid plates protect the underside of the vehicle from rocks during off-roading. Skid plates can also be installed on lowered vehicles to protect the underside from scraping the ground.
2. Select Your Style
If you’re vehicle won’t see off-road duty, you may want to choose your grille guard based solely on style. A full grille guard will give you that classic, rugged look, while a center grille guard will offer a sleeker look. You can also choose from Euro-styled grilles to accentuate the lines of your vehicle.
There are also a wide range of finishes available. Polished stainless steel is typically higher priced, but it is the most rugged of all the options. Plus, it offers excellent corrosion resistance to maintain its appearance. You can also opt for chrome plated or powdercoated finishes to complement the look of your vehicle.
3. Accessories or No?
Thinking of adding auxiliary lighting to your front-end? Considering mounting a winch to your truck? You’ll want to choose a grille guard that’s set up to work with these accessories. You can find guards that are pre-drilled for lights or specially made to accept winches.
Grille Guard Buyer’s Guide
Based on the information above, here are a few popular grille guards to illustrate your options:
Style: Full Grille Guard
A great example of a full grille guard, it features one-piece welded uprights and full coverage of your grille and headlights. This particular grille guard has a full-metal mesh punch plate grille for a sporty look.
Style: Center Grille Guard
Go Rhino! gave this center grille guard a built-in step, which allows for easy access to the engine compartment. It also requires no drilling for an easy installation.
Style: Bull Bar
Westin Safari Bars are made from two-inch tubing and include mounting tabs to make adding auxiliary lights easy. Like many other grille guards, installation is a no-drill proposition.