4×4 vehicles are the epitome of off-roading and the exploration of unknown terrain. But there’s more to off-roading than just exploring the Outback in a mud-covered vehicle. Before you start going on day-long adventures or any off-road trip for that matter, the one thing you need to consider the most is protection. And not just any type of protection but front-body protection.
Your 4×4 will encounter all kinds of obstacles and the best way to keep the vehicle and yourself safe is with a nudge bar. A nudge bar is usually made of steel and it goes over the front grille of your vehicle. Whilst its design is simple, a nudge bar offers quite a substantial amount of protection.
Nudge Bars vs Bull Bars
You might be wondering if a nudge bar and a bull bar are the same thing, which isn’t a surprise since they do look pretty similar. 4X4 nudge bars are mainly intended for light impacts and aesthetics. Not that nudge bars are not meant for cruising in the Outback, it’s just that they are not meant for heavy-duty use and in areas prone to animal strikes.
Bullbars, on the other hands provide the best protection but because of that they also also weigh the most. This affects fuel consumption and performance. A nudge bar typically comes made of a crossbar and a loop whilst a bull bar often comes with proper protection for the headlights too.
So, if speed and looks are more of a concern to you than heavy impact protection, nudge bars are the way to go. They are lightweight and won’t affect your fuel consumption that much.
Are Nudge Bars Worth it?
If you are not going to put your 4×4 to the test every time you go off-roading, then a nudge bar is definitely worth it. Most 4X4 nudge bars on the market are affordable and a decent upgrade from the stock protection you have. Plus, they have a sleek design which makes them a great way to add a stylish touch to your 4×4 for city use.
Ways to Fit a Nudge Bar
Depending on the type of 4×4 vehicle, there are different ways to fit a nudge bar.
Since 4WD nudge bars usually attach to the underbody of the vehicle, you need to first start by removing the front dust plate. This is easily done, as you just need to find the screw and bolts holding it in place and remove them. Once that’s finished, take off the bolts where the brackets would go (check the manufacturer’s provided installation guide). Fingertight them so that they are easy to adjust when you put the nudge bar. The same needs to be done for the support bracket too.
Next, you need to remove the plug in the chassis, and then take a long screwdriver and remove the top plug of the chassis. Follow that up by inserting the T-bolt provided in the kit through both the holes without the bolt touching the hose. After that, install the supporting brackets with the bolts they came with. What you need to do next is take the dust plate and face it against the brackets. Outline the shape of the brackets on the dust plate with a marker.
Next, use a reciprocating saw to cut out the holes where the brackets go. Place the dust plate so it sits snuggly against the brackets. Then, reinstall the bolts and plugs you took off from it earlier.
Lastly, install the nudge bar onto the brackets. Use a cordless tool to tighten about 90% of the bolt’s torque level. You can find the adequate torque level in the installation manual. Ensure the bar is level and that it is snug against the vehicle. Once you make all the adjustments needed to straighten the bar tighten the bolts all the way.
Usually, for vans you need to strip down the front bumper in order to install a nudge bar. This can be done by opening up the bonnet and taking a good look at the edge of the front of the car where the bumper is. You should find either metal or plastic screws holding the plastic shield which is placed against the bumper. Remove the metal/ plastic screw and the shield too.
Do the same thing on the other side of the bumper and the entire edge too. If the plastic shield doesn’t come off completely, reach behind the bumper at each corner and remove the bolts holding the bumper to the car. The bumper should easily come off.
Then, you need to install what is known as the holding bracket, making sure it’s straight and aligned before you tighten it. After that, you’ll need to get the nudge bar ready. This usually requires attaching the loop to the bar’s crossbeam. Use your hands to tighten anything before you use your tools. This will give you some much-needed wiggle room.
Once that’s done, take your bar and place it against the holding brackets. Tighten them using your hands and take a step back to determine if the bar is sitting level. When you have it properly aligned tighten and secure all the bolts that you previously used your hands to tighten. You should check if everything is tightened properly before calling it a day.