Replacing stock bumpers with off road ready steel bumpers are very common among in off roading jeeps and trucks.
Specially to fit heavy winches as well as to improve approaching angles these heavy aftermarket steel bumpers are important.
But are those off road bumpers street legal? Are they safer in collisions? What are the pros and cons of fitting such bumpers to your off-road vehicle? We’ll talk about all of those things through this guide.
Are off road bumpers legal?
In most of the countries including USA, aftermarket off road bumpers are street legal. Some countries and states have given some guidelines, but haven’t restricted installing such bumpers.
Let’s look at what the law says regarding modifying off roading jeeps in a couple of states. It will give some idea for you about legal conditions.
Modifying stock bumpers are allowed. But the bumper height may not exceed 30″ from the ground.
They also don’t have restrictions for bumpers. It’s enough to keep the height from ground to bottom of the bumper is 30″.
Florida has given specific maximum front bumper heights according to the weight of the truck.
- Net weight less than 2,000 lbs. – 24″ max
- Net weight 2,000lbs – 3,000 lbs. – 27″ max
- Net weight 3,000lbs – 5,000 lbs. – 28″ max
They don’t have any restrictions to modifying bumpers at the moment. Only advised to keep the modifications safe .
This state is given a chance to modify the jeep as you want. Only thing they advised is to keep it safe and in good operating condition.
According to their low code a bumper should be at least 4.5″ vertical height and extend not less than the width of the respective wheel track distance.
According to the above details you can get some idea about how laws are acting on different states.
The soul idea behind those laws are mainly keeping the safety and functional state of the vehicle.
Otherwise it’s not illegal to replace stock bumpers with off road metal bumpers in most countries.
It’s better to check laws with your country if you are out of the USA, before adding mods to your off-road vehicle.
Are steel bumpers safer in collisions?
Safety of a steel bumper depends on what type of object collides with your bumper.
If your steel bumper is hit with softer objects like a car or a deer you have more protection than using a plastic bumper.
If your bumper hits with a more solid object like a tree or a concrete wall with high speed, you and your passengers get more damage than using a plastic bumper.
The reason behind that is physics.
Older vehicles have very strong bodies like tanks. When a collision happens those vehicle bodies get less damage while passengers get huge damages.
Because force of a collision doesn’t affect much on those vehicle bodies due to their high strength.
So a larger amount of collision force goes over the passengers inside the car and course more damages to the passengers.
But new vehicles are built to crush the body easily in a collision to cause less damage to the passengers inside the vehicle.
That same phenomenon acts in these plastic and steel bumpers.
In higher speeds plastic bumpers will give more safety to the passengers while absorbing more collision energy to it while crushing the bumper.
In such situation, steel bumpers transfer that energy through passengers and cause huge harm to passengers if this collision happens with a tree like solid obstacle.
But if your steel bumper hits with a softer object like a car or something you and your vehicle will not get any damage while that car will be crushed and get huge damage. Because most of the collision energy goes over that soft object while crunching it.
For off roading purposes a strong steel bumper is the best bet.
Because plastic bumpers can easily be damaged with even a small collision with an off road obstacle like tree or rock while a steel bumper will not get any damage.
On streets at higher speeds the opposite happens and passengers will get huge damages.
In those situations you have to be more concerned about you and your passengers safety at a collision.
So plastic bumpers have given more safety in these conditions.
Pros and cons of steel bumpers
Steel bumpers can withstand over impacts better than a stock plastic bumper
Steel bumpers can upgrade easily with add-ons like winches, lights for off roadings.
Steel bumpers can give better look to the off road vehicle.
Give better approach angles.
With off road bumpers jeeps/trucks can get better approach angles to tackle off road obstacles easily.
Add extra recovery points.
Can get more recovery points with a steel bumper.
Weight of jeep increases
Steel bumpers are heavier than stock bumpers. So this affects highly on vehicles fuel efficiency and handling.
Steel bumpers can lose the aerodynamics and cause reduction of MPG. (Miles per gallon)
You can read why normally wrangles bad at gas mileage and tips to improve gas mileage, by clicking here.
Rusting and decaying can happen easily with paint or powder coat scratches.
In this short article I tried to explain what are the legal conditions regarding off road bumpers for street use, safety of using steel bumpers vs plastic bumpers and pros and cons of using steel bumpers for your off roading vehicle.
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Have fun and safe off roading!!