Entertaining the idea of building your own steel bumper? We’re going to help you determine if it’s the best option for you.
First of all, this is a workable solution only if you already have welding experience and the right tools. If you’re brand new to welding and fabrication, you probably don’t want your first project to be a DIY steel truck bumper.
Second, if you’re only interested in fabrication so you can build your own bumper, don’t. By the time you buy the tools, do some practice projects, and then start your DIY bumper project, you’ll be out thousands of dollars (in terms of time and actual hard costs). DIY bumpers are a great concept, but they’re really only a good idea for people with experience. (More about welding here.)
DIY Steel Bumper Pros
DIY steel bumper kits are very popular now, and the companies that sell them do a good job of making the DIY process look easy. While we think a lot of the marketing behind these DIY kits is a bit misleading, we definitely see two benefits to building your own bumper.
1. Lower Cost (Potentially)
Assuming that you already have access to the proper equipment, and that you have the right welding experience to do the job well, and that you can work relatively quickly, a DIY steel bumper kit is a money saver. You can buy a box full of pre-cut steel parts, follow the instructions, and have a nice bumper in a few hours.
2. Customizable Designs
By going the DIY route, you have the freedom to design and build the bumper to your specifications. Many DIY kits give you the option to make customizations along the way, adding or subtracting features as you see fit.
However, it’s important to note that you do not have to go the DIY route if you want customization. Throttle Down Kustoms offers customizable bumpers that make personalization easy.
A Throttle Down Kustoms bumper customized to accommodate aftermarket fog lights on a Chevy. (See TDK Chevy bumpers here.)
DIY Steel Bumper Cons
It’s easy to list the downsides to building a steel bumper from a kit, mostly because the potential problems are so obvious.
1. Quality and Appearance
If you’re an experienced welder and fabricator, you’ll be fine. If not, you might not be satisfied with the quality or appearance of your welds. While there are some things you can do to “fix” any mistakes you might make during the fabrication process, sometimes there are no fixes. You just have to start over with a new kit.
It’s hard to match the look and feel of a professionally welded bumper. (See the TDK Dodge offerings here.)
If you have to buy a couple of these DIY bumper kits to finish your project, you’ve probably spent enough to buy a professionally manufactured bumper.
2. Time Investment
Are you looking for a project that will occupy several weekends? If so, you won’t have too much of a problem with a DIY bumper kit. Many of them take several dozen hours to complete, as the kit manufacturers cut costs by forcing you to do a lot of tedious work.
If, on the other hand, your time is valuable, you might bust out a calculator. If we assume your free time is worth $20 an hour – and that a DIY bumper kit that takes 15-20 hours for one person working on their own to complete – you’re looking at $300 – $400 worth of time on top of a kit that costs several hundred dollars.
Not to mention, there’s the risk that you’ll finish the bumper after putting a lot of hours in and not be satisfied with the final product.
3. A Bumper Is Important To Vehicle Safety
While most DIY steel bumper kits are perfectly safe when properly assembled, they aren’t always properly assembled.
If, for example, your steel bumper has some welds that aren’t quite right, that could be a big problem in a collision. If welds snap and part of your DIY steel bumper flies off and injures someone, that could be a major problem (not to mention a serious risk of injury). If the bumper collapses too easily, it could lead to excessive frame damage that ups your repair costs.
Granted, these are worst-case scenarios. Still, your bumper is a safety component…should it be assembled by a pro, or built by a DIY fabrication first timer in his or her garage?
Because all TDK bumpers are built and welded by experienced fabricators and welders, you get added safety. (Find our Toyota bumpers here.)
DIY Steel Bumper Kits Are Great, But Professional Bumpers Are Better
While a DIY steel bumper kit might seem like a great deal, the potential for pitfalls makes it a bad choice for truck owners that care about quality. New truck buyers spend tens of thousands of dollars on a truck because they want something tough and reliable, no matter what.
When it comes to your bumper, we think you should expect the same level of quality and reliability you expect with the rest of the truck.