Are Grill Guards Worth It? Do Grille Guards Work?

It is common for pickup trucks in the western United States and Canada to have large, bulky protections over their grilles.  In the event that you get into an accident with wildlife during your travels, these guards come in handy.  They are designed to keep your pickup truck and passengers safe in case you encounter an animal while driving.

You may ask, “do grille guards work?”  Do they do what they are intended to do and keep you and your vehicle safe in an accident?  The answer is yes, grille guards work very well against animals in remote forested areas.  They may not be as critical in other situations.

Read on to find out about grille guards, like what they are and what they do, their legality, how much you should pay for one, and whether they are an investment that is worth it for you.  We will also cover alternatives to grille guards that might suit you better.

What Are Grille Guards?

In a nutshell, grille guards are cages that go over the front of your truck that are designed to protect it in case of an accident. They are a buffer between whatever object you may be colliding with and the front of your car that will minimize damage.

Other names that refer to Grille Guards:

  • Bullbars
  • Push bumpers
  • Kangaroo bars (Australia)
  • Nudgebars (Australia)
  • Moose bumpers
  • Push bars
  • PIT guard, bar, or bumper
  • Ram bar or bumper
  • Brush guard
  • Rammer
  • Cattle pusher

Regardless of how they are marketed, these guards serve to keep you safe and preserve your truck.  Animals on remote roads can be unpredictable, so it is helpful to prepare.

What are grille guards made of?

Strength and durability are key for a grille guard. They are usually made of a combination of aluminum alloys, steel, and polycarbonate or polyethylene.

Grille guards are typically made of one of two types of plastic: Polycarbonate is a heavier type of plastic that contains thermoplastic polymers and carbonates.  Polycarbonate is molded and thermoformed, making it a logical choice for grille guards. Polyethylene is a plastic that is used in plastic bags, plastic wraps, containers and bottles.  For a grille guard, much more is used for sturdiness and protection.

If your grille guard is not plastic, it is probably either aluminum or steel. Grille guards are usually quite easy to find. However, if the grille guard you choose doesn’t fit on your vehicle properly, it may not work or cause even more damage.  They can also be custom made and installed onto your vehicle by a professional.  Grille guards can be found around the world on police vehicles, in the event that they are needed.

How much does a grille guard cost?

Grille Guards cost anywhere from $400-$1200. Keep in mind most grille guards will not fit on every truck.  If you are a handy person, you can probably fit your grille guard on yourself. If not, factor in the installation price by a professional.

Some Grille Guards Options with prices

  • AUTOSAVER88 Bull Bar Black Compatible for 2004-2020 Ford F-150 3″ Tubing Front Grille Brush Push Bumper Guard with Led, Include Skid Plate Light Mount ($225.99)
  • Ranch Hand Ggc16Hbl1 Legend Series Grille Guard ($678.00)
  • Replacement for Chevy Silverado 2500 HD / 3500 HD Front Bumper Protector Brush Grille Guard (Chrome) ($336.88)
  • Westin 40-3825 Black Sportsman Grille Guard ($420.12)
  • Westin 57-2015 HDX Black Grille Guard ($692.99)
  • Westin 57-93905 Black HDX Winch Mount Grille Guard ($1,039.99)

Grille guards such as these come in a variety of prices. They start in the low hundreds and can range into the thousands.  The highest prices will buy you a grille guard that is strong but light in weight.

Why People Use Grille Guards

We’ve learned the function of grille guards and their pricing, but now we’re going to go over the pros and cons to help you determine whether a grille guard is right for you.

Why do people use grille guards on their trucks? The main pro of grille guards is that they will protect the front of your truck in an accident. If you were to get into a head-on accident, the grille guard would absorb most of the impact, preventing the grille from getting destroyed. Your vehicle could still be damaged, but greater damage would be prevented if there was a grille guard on your truck.  They are also designed and theoretically very effective against collisions with large animals.

Do grille guards work? A popular name for grille guards in Canada is ‘moose bumper,’ but moose are so large that it’s difficult to imagine a grille guard being effective against them.  Grille guard or no grille guard, there will still be significant damage done to your vehicle if you hit a moose.  They are tall and have the potential to destroy windshields and cause harm to those inside the car.  In the case of a moose, the grille and headlights would take minimal damage anyway.

Downsides to Grille Guards

If you’re doing your research on grille guards, you may have found that they are not universally accepted as safe or useful.  There are very polarizing opinions on them throughout the world. Despite this, grille guards are legal in most US states, as well as countries around the world.

Grille guards are not seen as the best option for grille protection. Although they have proven to be effective against head-on collisions for the user of the grille guard, they could cause more added dangers to other vehicles and pedestrians. Research has even been done by the United Kingdom and Germany’s Department of Transport and Federal Highway Research Institute and Transport Research Laboratory that proves that grille guards are especially dangerous to pedestrians.

What the research uncovered: Research done by the United Kingdom has uncovered eighteen thousand people that have been injured and two thousand people that have been killed in Europe in accidents with vehicles with grille guards. Grille guards became enough of an issue that the European Union Directive began regulating newly manufactured grille guards in the late 2000’s. It is important to keep these risks in mind when deciding if you’re going to get a grille guard.

In summary, grille guards will protect you in collisions with almost anything, unless it is especially large.  However, they are more dangerous for pedestrians and they can get very expensive.

Are grille guards worth it?

Grille guards may be worth the investment for you based on your lifestyle.  It all depends on where you intend to take your truck. If you’re driving through remote areas with less of a chance of an accident with pedestrians, then a grille guard might be right for you.  Otherwise, it might not be worth it.  Keep in mind that you cannot remove and reinstall them on a regular basis.  You should base your decision on where you use your truck more.

If you don’t believe a grille guard is right, you can explore the option of grille covers.

Grille Covers, Alternatives to Grille Guards

There are two types of grille cover.  They are easier to attach than grille guards, and they can be taken off and put on at your leisure. Grille covers are designed for vehicles that go off the road, to prevent small objects like rocks from getting stuck in your grille.

Grille Cover Pricing: Similarly to grille guards, you can buy grille covers off of amazon. Grille guards and grille covers differ in price.  Grille covers are significantly less expensive than grille guards, usually around one hundred dollars.  If you are unsure how to fit them, you’ll also want to factor in the price of having them installed as well.

Metal Mesh Grille Covers: One version of a grille cover is a metal mesh cover that goes over the grille of a truck. They are not as effective against large animals or other objects that you may collide with head on, so you might ask yourself why you would need one.

Grille covers are used for a different function than grille guards.  Though they may help with rocks in the event that you go off the road, grille covers that you’d see normally appear to be used for aesthetics rather than functions.  In the opinions of truck owners, they add a rugged look to your vehicle.

To sum it up, metal mesh grille covers can add an extra element of individuality to your vehicle, even if you intend to stay on the paved road.  They might even come in handy some day if you’re on a particularly rocky dirt road.

Fabric Grille Covers: The other type of grille cover available is a fabric grille cover. These are most commonly seen in colder seasons and climates, and look like carpets that go over the front of a truck.

The fabric that is used for these types of grille covers are malleable and soft. They can be made of vinyl, mesh, layered cloth, canvas, or quilted leather.  Fabric covers are made to fit your vehicle, but they are not always made by vehicle manufacturers. Because of their durable nature, they can be found at many different retailers, both online and offline. These types of grille covers are also easier to install than metal mesh grille covers or grille guards.  Since they are made of fabric, they are safer to install yourself and.  All you need is your fabric grille cover and some mounting hardware.

A grille cover may seem obsolete if it is made of fabric. It may seem as though they are only used for decoration, but fabric grille covers serve another unique purpose.  They are, functionally, used as blankets for your truck.

Older trucks benefit from fabric grille covers during the winter. They serve to uniformly heat the vehicle’s engine. The grille is one of the warmer parts on a truck, and heat can transfer to the engine through it if it is being insulated by a fabric covering.  Thus, when the engine is already warm due to the grille cover, it can heat up and be ready for use faster.

What to Do About Your Grille in the Winter

As new models of trucks and SUVs are released, the need for grille covers is declining.  Dual thermostats and electric grilles are more common for newer vehicles, as they have come to be expected as technology modernizes. They automatically prevent the grille and the engine from becoming too cold in cold weather. Electric grilles and dual thermostats are built to regulate temperatures in the engines so that you don’t need any time for them to heat up before you go. If you use a grille cover on a newer vehicle with one of these temperature regulating systems, you may cause your vehicle to overheat.

Winterizing your grille: Before you buy a grille cover, check to see if your vehicle has a dual thermostat or electric grille.  If it has one of these systems, you should not get a grille cover for your truck. Installing one will likely cause your engine to overheat, thus causing more harm than simple aesthetic value is worth. However, you may need a grille cover in the case that your truck or SUV is old and does not have one of these systems, or if you plan on taking your vehicle to locations with, especially cold weather.

You should know what vehicle’s maintenance needs are. It is your responsibility as a truck owner.  Keeping your truck in good working conditions during the winter is key. If you want to learn more about your truck, check with your local mechanic or auto body shop and those in the locations in which you plan to take your vehicle.

If you’re familiar with grille guards or grille covers, comment below to let us and your fellow readers know about your experiences.  We hope this article was helpful.

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