Steel truck bumpers enhance the aesthetics of your truck and provide a host of mounting options for lights, antenna whips, winches, recovery points, and more. This article will cover what effect the weight of aftermarket steel bumpers has on your truck and what you need to consider before fitting one.
The average steel bumper weight is between 60lbs and 150lbs for front bumpers and 50lbs to 130lbs for rear bumpers. The weight can have a negative effect on your truck if the suspension and dampers are not rated to hold the additional weight which will cause the nose of your truck to sag 0.5 to 2 inches. Once you add accessories like spotlights, a winch, and an antenna whip, the weight will increase even further. A minimum 2inch suspension upgrade first, is necessary to compensate for the additional weight and prevent heavyweight sag in your truck’s suspension.
The additional weight and heavy nose of your vehicle will affect your driving experience. The severity of the effects will depend on the bumper size and weight, damper, and spring rating as well as the make and model of your truck. Weight is the dreaded enemy of performance and gas mileage.
Truck Bumper Weight Effects
You might have done some prior research and are probably aware of the side effects a heavy bumper has on your truck’s handling and braking dynamics. It’s been noted that certain manufacturers produce heavier bumpers than others. With that being said, let’s look at a few factors that might increase the bumper’s weight:
- Thickness of the metal
- Quality of the welding
- Additional mounting brackets
- CNC cutting and bending protective plates
- Additional reinforcement for recovery hooks
- Extra brackets and mounts for accessories
It is not uncommon for a heavy-duty custom bumper and winch combination to weigh in excess of 110 lbs.
Let’s look at the possible side effects of fitting a heavy-duty steel bumper with factory stock suspension that is not rated to carry the additional weight:
- The bumper will weigh your truck nose down considerably.
- You can expect a drop of roughly .05 to 2 inches or more.
- Cornering and braking will be negatively affected.
- You will experience a considerable difference in the vehicles handling characteristics.
- The excess weight will sag your factory springs and overwhelm your dampers (shocks).
- The additional weight up front will also place more wear and tear on your front tires.
- Components like ball joints, steering racks and brake pads will wear faster.
- Regular tire rotation will be necessary to achieve even tire wear on all four wheels.
- Steering might feel vague and heavier
- Brake nose-dive
So how do you overcome the above-mentioned side effects of adding a steel bumper? Should you upgrade the suspension along with the bumper together? This might be a bit heavy on the pocket. Are there other cheaper solutions available?
Let us have a look at a real-world example and investigate to give you an idea.
Jeep Wrangler Off-road Bumper (example)
Let’s for the purpose of this article use the Jeep Wrangler as an example of the various bumper options. Let be honest, a Jeep with those massive stock plastic bumpers looks a bit ridiculous and does no favors for the aesthetics of the vehicle.
Let’s also assume you are fitting a steel bumper purely for looks, and that your intention is not to venture off-road?
What are your options?
So, the stock Jeep plastic bumper weighs about 30lbs. I bet you never thought the stock bumpers were that light right? I would have thought the reinforced steel brackets behind the plastic would add some more weight.
The stock bumper weight needs to be subtracted from the weight of the aftermarket steel bumper to get the net weight that is being added.
If the steel bumper weighs in at 70lbs. Let’s assume you ordered a Baracade HD front bumper. The 30lbs of your standard bumper needs to be deducted from the 70lbs steel bumper. This leaves you with a total additional weight of 40lbs. That’s the equivalent of the weight of a 6-year-old kid. Nothing to worry about, and there are even lighter options available.
Below is an example of weight that was added over time to a Jeep Wrangler and what the net result was: In this example The PS brawler lite only weighs 64lbs.
- OE Front w/ tow hooks 36.4lbs
- OE Rear 15 lbs
- OE tire carrier 20lbs
- OE Willys wheels/tires 365lbs (25 wheels, 48 tires x5)
- PS Brawler Lite 64lbs
- Brawler Rear 57lbs
- Maximus Tire Carrier 45lbs
- Maximus add ons 10lbs
- Hi-Lift Jack 30lbs
- Rotopax 21lbs w/ gas
- XHD wheels w/ KO2’s 492.5lbs (32 wheels, 66.5 tires x5)
- XHD wheel protectors 30lbs (6 each)
- WKO Sliders 116
865.5 – 436.4 = 429.1 Total additional weight
The factory stock bumper weighs in at around 30lbs to 36.4lbs with tow hooks and metal support.
The weight difference of each bumper will vary greatly and some brands might not even require a suspension upgrade at first. If you are the type to venture off-road then I would strongly suggest at least a 2” suspension upgrade since even a 50lbs of additional weight upfront can have an adverse effect on your vehicle’s performance off-road. Your other alternative is to opt for aluminum bumpers instead of steel, however, they come in at almost double the price.
Below are a few examples of Jeep Wrangler bumpers and their prospective weights.
|Brand Brand Name||Weight|
|PS brawler lite front||64 lbs|
|LoD Destroyer full-width front||80 lbs|
|PS rock brawler front||150 lbs|
|Smittybilt SRC Gen2 full with front||155 lbs|
Average Weight Of A Steel Front Bumper
May heavy-duty steel bumpers are CNC cut and crafted from heavy-duty 7 gauge steel. Below are a few more examples of weight differences between manufacturers for the Jeep Wrangler:
|Bumper Brand Name||Weight|
|Expedition One Basic DX front winch bumper||24 lbs|
|Olympic 4×4 500 Series Rock Bumper||30 lbs|
|Shrockworks Stubby w/ winch plate||55 lbs|
|Aberle aluminum front winch bumper||61 lbs|
|Poison Spyder Brawler Lite with Brawler Bar and plate gussets||65 lbs|
|Baracade HD front bumper||70 lbs|
|LOD mid-width w/o stinger||72 lbs|
|Fab Four stubby front winch bumper||80 lbs|
|Rock Hard 4×4 Parts stubby front winch bumper||86 lbs|
|Durango 4×4 Grizzly Stubby front||92 lbs|
|ARB front winch bumper||95 lbs|
|Red Rock Fab front bumper||95 lbs|
|Shrockworks mid-width front bumper||96 lbs|
|Pure Jeep Crawler Stubby front bumper||97 lbs|
|Warn tube front bumper||104 lbs|
|Durango 4×4 Grizzly Full-Width front||105 lbs|
|Expedition One Trail Series||105 lbs|
|Smittybilt SRC front bumper||110 lbs|
|Teraflex front bumper||111 lbs|
|OR Fab Stubby front winch bumper w/ stinger||110 lbs|
|AEV front winch bumper||116 lbs|
|Rampage Full-Width front bumper||130 lbs|
|Fab Four full-width front bumper||140 lbs|
|Warn front bumper||155 lbs|
|Rock Hard 4×4 Parts full-width front winch bumper with hoop||160 lbs|
Most steel bumpers are hand-welded and crafted from CNC laser-cut steel plates. Most of them are so well constructed and durable that they come with a lifetime guarantee. Powder coating is recommended to prevent corrosion. These bumpers can really take a knock and are a huge upgrade from the factory standard plastic molded ones. There is a lot of thought and planning put into the process and factors such as vehicle design lines, crumple zones, airbag sensors, increased approach and departure angles, additional accessory fitment options, durability and robustness along with keeping weight down and improving the vehicle aesthetics are all taken into account.
Many of the high-end bumpers incorporate indicator lenses as well as fog lights into the bumpers as standard. Many give the clients the option of ordering with or without a powder-coat finish. Additional extras can include LED lights, parking sensors, grill guards, and winch brackets. If you drive a modern 4WD and it has front parking sensors, the bumper can in most cases be ordered with that feature to still be functional. Many leaders in the 4×4 steel bumper industry like ARB have invested heavily in vehicle crash barrier tests to validate the performance and compliance of its airbag compatible bumpers.
In this article, we’ve established that steel bumpers can improve the aesthetics, be advantageous off-road, and do not negatively impact the safety or functionality of your 4-wheel-drive truck. We have however also confirmed the vast differences in weight between various manufacturers. My recommendation is that any bumper with a weight in excess of 80 lbs will require a front suspension upgrade. That will include stiffer springs and stronger bigger bore shocks dampers.
Whatever your bumper choice is, make sure you consult with a professional to advise you if your factory standard shocks can handle the additional weight to your vehicle.