Do you need to replace your bumper? Or are you thinking about upgrading to a steel bumper? Bumpers exist to protect your vehicle in an accident. So you may be wondering how safe a steel bumper would be compared to an OEM bumper. (Though, bumpers also play a role in vehicle recovery, too.)
The answer? It depends on the kind of steel bumper you get. We wouldn’t say that steel bumpers are definitely safer than OEM bumpers. But if you’re interested in outfitting your vehicle with a steel bumper, and if you’re concerned about safety, the type of bumper you get matters a lot.
Before diving into the topic of what makes a steel bumper safe, we’d like to clear up a common misconception.
Image Credit: DodgeForum
A lot of people overestimate a bumper’s ability to provide protection in a crash. Your bumper is not the only thing that keeps your vehicle safe in a crash. It’s only one component in an entire safety system. The truth is that the bumpers themselves play a very small part in a collision.
A well-built bumper, such as a Throttle Down Kustoms Bumper/Grille Guard, may protect your vehicle in a low-speed collision. But it won’t do much in a high-speed collision with another vehicle. In fact, no bumpers, OEM or aftermarket, will protect a vehicle in this situation. In a high-speed collision, the focus shifts from protecting the vehicle to protecting the passengers. When trying to protect passengers, bumpers aren't as nearly as important as airbags, seatbelts, door latches, and properly designed crumple zones.
A high-speed collision with another vehicle is an extreme situation. It's called a "high energy" impact. But what about less extreme events, such as hitting a deer on the highway? Or banging into something off-road or on the farm? That's a "low energy" impact. That's where some bumpers are safer than others.
A steel bumper that has all the following features is much safer than many other steel bumpers.
Many aftermarket steel bumpers lack internal supports. We at TDK think this is a huge oversight. A lot of "build your own steel bumper" kits don't include steel to make internal supports. If you ask us, this is a safety issue.
Internal supports provide a lot of reinforcement in the event of an impact. Without internal supports, the bumper will crumple or bend.
A bumper is only as strong as its weakest weld. The welds hold a bumper together. If a bumper with weak welds makes contact with a deer or a tree stump, the welds will break before anything else. The bumper will fall apart as a result. If you want a steel bumper that can withstand an impact, get one with good welds.
Rust is steel's worst enemy. When a steel bumper gets rust anywhere, it becomes a lot weaker. So you want to get a steel bumper that either:
With adequate rust protection, a steel bumper will outlast your truck.
OEM bumpers are mostly made from either plastic or lightweight metals, such as stamped aluminum or stamped steel. Welded steel plate is much stronger than these materials, and holds up better in a low energy impact.
There's a big difference between our products and the steel bumpers offered by many other companies. All of our bumpers check every box on the list above. We invest heavily in making sure our welds are top quality, and we design our bumpers to be tough. We know we want a tough, high-quality bumper protecting the front of our trucks, and you probably do too. Learn more about TDK steel bumpers here!