Your Grille Guard or moose bumper is now an established accessory that many people expect to see on trucks, cop cars, and other types of vehicles. But how did these bars first come into existence? Even if you use your moose bumper in a very different way than drivers decades ago did, it is still interesting to learn some of the history of these protective parts.
The Origin of Bumper Guards
It should come as no surprise that bumper guards were created to protect vehicles, as that is what they continue to do today. Most people say that they began in Australia, specifically the Outback. The Australian Outback has plenty of kangaroos, as well as other sizable wild animals that can cause significant damage to any type of vehicle.
Before bumper guards were invented, people would occasionally have their vehicles damaged beyond repair by wild animals, such as in situations where the animal caused enough force to rupture the radiator. This could lead to people being stranded in remote areas until help wandered by.
People started using bumper guards to protect their vehicles and minimize the risk that a wild animal would make it incapable of being driven. With a moose bumper, there would still be some damage, but the guard would absorb most of the impact. This left vehicles in good enough condition to drive to a less remote area so their owners could make repairs.
Bumper Guards Today: Other Names
Today, bumper guards are much more common and found in various countries around the world. They are so widespread that they now bear numerous names, some of which give you a hint as to their most common use in a given region. The following are all names for the same part:
- Bumper Guard
- Truck Guard
- Grille Guard
- Moose Bumper
- Bullbar (Bull Bar)
- Push Bumper
- Kangaroo Bar
- Roo Bar
- Nudge Bar
- Push Bar
- PIT Bumper
- PIT Bar
- PIT Guard
- Ram Bumper
- Ram Bar
- Brush Guard
- Grille Bar
- Cattle Pusher
- Bumper Bar
Some of those names highlight the historical reason for these parts to be included on trucks and other vehicles, to protect from damage from wild animals. Kangaroo bar, roo bar, moose bumper, cattle pusher, ram bumper, and ram bar all hint at that past.
It is also worth noting that while the function of all the above names is the same, there are sometimes slight variations in what the term would typically describe. You will see some of that when discussing how they are used today.
Bumper Guards Today: Common Uses
Most bumper guards today will replace the existing front fenders or bumpers.
The terms bush bars and brushbars commonly refer to variations of these that have the goal of protecting headlights and the other parts of the front of a vehicle from small trees and bushes.
Nudge bars have a gentler name and are more common on smaller SUVs and sedans. These typically feature lighter polycarbonate or aluminum tubing and just protect the radiator grille. They do not usually replace the car’s bumper bar.
Police Vehicles and Bumper Guards
It is also common for police vehicles, including cars, trucks, and SUVs, to feature nudge bars or push bars. These are typically called by the previously mentioned names that include PIT, which stands for Pursuit Intervention Technique. That name provides a good idea of their purpose, which is to be able to batter down simple fences or structures in the line of duty or to move vehicles that are not functional off the road.
PIT bumpers are also there to help stop vehicle chases. They do so when the driver carefully nudges the fleeing vehicle on its rear quarter panel, which is called a PIT maneuver. The guard protects the front end of the police car while it does this maneuver. Without the guard in place, drivers who did the same maneuver could risk disabling their own car as well as the one they are pursuing.
Used to Mount Other Accessories
It is also common for people to use their bumper guards as a mounting point to attach other accessories to their SUV. The most common of these accessories is a CB radio antenna, especially in the case of long-haul trucks. They are also commonly used as mounting points for spotlights or additional lighting or winches. Attaching winches is particularly common on off-road vehicles and work vehicles.
Bumper Guards Today: Other Advances
In addition to expanding the types of bumper guards and their uses, there have also been other advances since they first hit the market. Now, some of them can integrate with the other safety systems in the vehicle. One example would be a vehicle where the airbags deploy after there is a collision involving the moose bumper.
There are also now some plastic bumper guards made with polyethylene or other materials that are softer and spring back. These guards provide some of the same protection as their metal counterparts but not to the same extent. The idea is that they provide enough protection to keep the vehicle in question drivable after most collisions.
Bumper guards began as a way to protect vehicles from wild animals in remote areas, such as kangaroos in the Australian Outback. Today, they primarily protect trucks from animals and other collisions, helping to reduce damage. They are also used on other types of vehicles, including police cars.
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