Embarking on a journey through the Australian outback with your Toyota can be one of the most exciting experiences you go through in your life. Our continent has so much to offer, yet few of us get to explore its pristine beauties.
However, as beautiful as the remotest, untouched parts of Australia are, they’re not the most welcoming, neither to people nor our vehicles.
For that reason, it’s important that you’re well prepared for the roads ahead, and equip your vehicle with the necessary 4×4 gear to ensure you get back with your Toyota unscathed.
There are many pieces of 4×4 gear that will provide some form of protection for your Toyota, but none is more important than the bull bar. Bull bars are the most sought-after protective 4×4 accessories. As such, you can find Toyota bull bars of many shapes and forms, made to fit your specific model and make seamlessly.
However, there are still some things you need to consider when buying Toyota bull bars, such as the material they’re made of and the extra features some can come with to make off-roading a more pleasant and worry-free experience.
The best place to shop for bull bars is online, where you’ll find a wide range of products from a variety of quality brands. But before I dive into the specifics you should be looking for when choosing your ideal bull bar, let’s talk about what a bull bar can do for your Toyota.
Reasons to Get a Bull Bar
Since it’s a protective accessory, its main purpose is to help you stay safe on and off the road. A bull bar can protect your Toyota from heavy impact in case you collide with another vehicle or animal.
Travelling through the bush or outback is dangerous without this type of protection, simply because you’ll be exposed to a lot of hazards, such as large rocks, fallen trees, curious ‘roos, etc.
And since most bull bars are made of metals, they’ll protect you and your vehicle from serious damage. If you stick to the paved roads, you can get nudge bars, which are a type of bull bar meant for use in urban areas.
Front-End and Undercarriage Protection
The bull bar protects your vehicle’s front end and undercarriage from serious damage. Given that the most important car parts are located in those areas, it’s easy to see why no serious off-roader takes a trip without this accessory. Bull bars protect your engine, cooling system, fluid lines, headlights, grille and the rest of the important, yet fragile parts located under the bonnet.
Extra Mounting Points
Bull bars can serve as mounting points for other 4×4 accessories. If you think your trip will include sand dunes, you should get a flagpole and safety flag, both of which you can mount on the bull bar itself. Additionally, you can mount extra driving lights, a UHF or VHF antenna, fishing rod holders and a winch.
While you can mount the winch elsewhere, most people mount it on the bull bar. Even if you decide to go for recovery tracks or a high-lift jack, it’s still better to buy a winch-compatible bull bar, as that means the bull bar is tested and rated by a third-party engineer. And besides, you might decide to get a winch at a later point.
Furthermore, most bull bars come with rated recovery and tow points which allow you to safely recover or tow your vehicle in case you get stuck. Some bull bars have these points built-in, while others give you the option to add them later.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Bull Bar
The material will play a crucial role in how the bull bar performs. There are three materials bull bars are typically made of – steel, aluminium and plastic. Steel is the most durable material, but it’s also the heaviest, so it will impact your Toyota’s fuel consumption the most.
On the other hand, aluminium is lighter, but provides slightly less protection. Aluminium bull bars are generally more expensive, but they’re the preferred option for most off-roaders.
Plastic bull bars don’t offer much in terms of protection, but if you mostly keep to concrete, they’re a suitable option. They’re affordable and can do wonders for the visual appeal of your vehicle.
There are a few popular styles of Toyota bull bars used for off-roading – single hoop, triple hoop and competition bars. Single hoop and triple hoop bull bars are the most common choices.
The difference between them can be noted in their names – a single hoop bar features a single hoop going over the grill, whereas triple hoop bars also include hoops that go over the headlights.
So, if you want the utmost protection, you should get a triple hoop bar. However, if you want a bull bar that offers protection, but also provides an enhanced look, then a single hoop bar might be the better choice for you. This is because single hoop bars don’t cover the front end of your vehicle as much.
Lastly, competition bars provide a decent amount of protection, plus the best ground clearance. They’re easily removed and installed, and they’re mainly used for off-road competitions, but you can also get one for more casual use.
In order for the bull bar to be compliant with Australian laws and regulations, it needs to be ADR compliant. ADR compliance includes standards relating to the form and shape of the bull bar, its ability to absorb impact, without compromising the vehicle’s airbag and other safety systems, and it shouldn’t block the headlights.
A lot of these standards also revolve around pedestrian safety, i.e. in case you hit someone with a bull bar, the bull bar should push them on top of your bonnet rather than under the vehicle.
That being said, most Australian bull bar manufacturers produce their bull bars with this in mind, so it’s always a good idea to shop locally rather than get a bull bar from overseas. Buying a bull bar that isn’t ADR compliant can be dangerous to yourself, pedestrians, and everyone else you share the road with. Plus, it can make you liable to hefty fines.