Grille guards, or bumper guards, are popular on trucks and SUVs, probably because they’re so darn useful. You can use them to protect your truck or SUV’s front end from animal strikes, damage while off-roading, etc. Truck and SUV owners also like grille guards because they look tough (check out this Westin Grille Guard – nice, right?), and looking tough is never a bad thing.
But what about cars? More and more car owners are mounting grille guards on their vehicles – do they belong?
Image found on W116.org
What’s a Grille Guard Actually Supposed to Do?
While the name “grille guard” implies that these accessories protect a vehicle’s grille from damage, that’s not always their purpose. For most users, grille guards do one or more of the following:
- Increase durability of the front end, particularly against animal strikes (eg, hitting a deer or elk on a rural road) and off-road obstacles (like stray tree branches)
- Give vehicle owners a way to push objects without damaging bodywork
- Provide a mounting point for additional lighting and/or a winch
- The often look really nice
To be fair, there’s debate among automotive enthusiasts about the purposes outlined above. A cheap or poorly designed grille guard (and there are a few of those on the market) isn’t really capable of protecting the vehicle if/when an animal strike occurs, and these low quality units do almost nothing in the event of a crash. A lot of lower quality grille guards bend when they’re used to push, and some of them don’t stand up to the elements without rusting or pitting.
Sidebar: This is why StreetSideAuto recommends buying a high quality grille guard. The “savings” you get on a low quality grille usually comes back to haunt you.
One the other side of the coin, some say that grille guards work a little too well. Many wonder if putting a grille guard on a vehicle makes them dangerous and increases the odds of injury to passengers in other vehicles if involved in an accident.
But the real question is, if there’s a debate about the usefulness of a grille guard on a truck, there’s got to be a debate about the usefulness of one on a car.
When Grille Guards on Cars Might Make Sense
Here’s probably the strongest case anyone can make for mounting grille guards on cars: nearly every police car has them. Police cars have push bars and/or grille guards because they sometimes need to push cars out of the roadway, and on rare occasions police officers will use their cars to execute the famous “Pit Maneuver.”
But what about civilian cars – do they need a grille guard? A good grille guard can protect your lights and bumper cover if you were to hit something like an animal or tree branch. if you have a need for extra lighting on your car, a grille guard could come in handy for that too. But it’s admittedly hard to imagine most car owners needing a grille guard…
Examples of Guards on Cars
Image found on AllFordMustangs.com
After searching online through forums, I’ve found that most people who put grille guards on their cars are intent upon creating a certain look.
Image found on Flickr
Just like with any accessory, on any vehicle, there’s always the overdone ones out there. The oversized ones and the make shift grille guards are the hardest to look at.
Image found on NASIOC.com
Others you can look at and their function is obvious.
Corvette images courtesy CarAndDriver.com
Then there’s the gray area, I’ll let you decide about this one…
Image found on Forums.Bowsite.com
The Question Remains…
What we want to know is, would you ever put a grille guard on your car? Why or why not?
A self-described “car nerd,” Jason is a automotive columnist who has written for the eBay Motors blog, Motor Car Digest, as well as his own sites TundraHeadquarters.com and AccurateAutoAdvice. With an engineering degree, a full-time job in the automotive parts industry, and a decade of experience working in auto dealerships, Jason brings an interesting perspective on all things automotive.