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ARB Winch Bumper/Bull Bar Installation

Why fit this heavy bumper?
 
 

  1. Animal Strike: The number one reason to buy a bull bar is to protect the radiator and engine vitals from an animal strike.  There is a much greater likelihood of hitting a donkey or deer while on an expedition, than to hit another vehicle.  An animal impact can rupture the radiator, damage the fan and break intake components, leaving you stranded.
  2. The ARB bull bar is designed to catch and deflect the animal’s torso, sending the mass of the strike off to the sides or under the chassis.
    Car front bumper smashed by deer

  3. Vehicle Recovery and Road Repair:
    Purchased as a winch bull bar, the ARB can allow fitment of an electric or hydraulic powered winch.  Most often, winches are purchased for the rare event when you will need to recover your vehicle from being stuck.  In reality (considering expedition travel and “rock crawling” are quite different), the winch will be used ten times more often for road repair.  Clearing felled trees, moving rocks in the road, pulling down washed-out embankments with a land anchor, etc.
    Tacoma winch pull
    Photo: Brian Dearmon
  4. Trail Protection: Rock impacts, crossing gullies, trees and deep ruts all present the chance of damage to the vehicle’s front end.  A heavy duty, full length bumper is designed to take light trail impacts and also help ramp the front end over obstacles, etc.
    In technical 4wd competition, I have found the ARB bumper to also provide “endo” protection.
    Scott Brady in the Outback Challenge in a winch competition
    Expeditions West’s Scott Brady winning the Cliffhanger winch competition during the Outback Challenge.  Photo: Option 4×4, France
  5. Accident Protection: Driving in crowded cities, remote mountain roads and tight traffic can all be prime situations for an accident.  Having a stout bumper will help prevent accidents to start with, as locals will give you a slightly wider berth.  If a light impact does occur, the chances of any damage are nil.
    This advantage does require some responsibility though.  Drive slow and watch for pedestrians.
  6. Light and Antennae Mounting: The ARB bumper makes for a great light mount, with integrated holes and tabs.  Most models mount the lights inside the main bars, protecting them from damage.  It is also common to mount CB or VHF/UHF radio antennae to the upper tab, though the ground plane is not ideal.

 

Installation

The ARB bumper is delivered with excellent instructions, high quality installation drawings and a detailed part list.  The instructions supplied here are more of a supplement to their process than a replacement.

The ARB comes tightly packed to protect the finish during its journey from AU to the US.  Cool to think that at least the bumper has already been to the outback…
ARB bumper packaged
Tacoma before bumper installation

The process starts with the removal of the stock bumper.  Access to the first nuts to remove is just in front of the tires, behind the fender liner.
Removing the stock bumper

Remove the skid plate, as you would for an oil change.  The front skid plate cross support is replaced completely.
Skid plate removal

Remove the recovery and tie-down hooks on both frame rails.
Frame rails

Remove the bolts holding the bumper frame to the side horn mounts.
Removal of bolts

A plastic tap runs from the lower bumper skirt to the frame.  It is easy to remove by using a thin driver to pop out the center retainer.  These are on both sides.
Removal of plastic tap

Remove the wiring connector from the front indicator lights.  Retain wiring.
The front bumper will now slide off the support frame.
Removal of wire connector
Tacoma stock bumper removed

Start disassembling the steel bumper cross member by unbolting it from the crush cans.
Bumper cross member disassembling

Now the crush can bolts are accessible, and easily removed.
Crush can bolts removed
Removal of crush can bolts

Now comes the fun stuff: installing the bull bar.  New crush blocks are installed, all with the skid plate cross support using supplied hardware.
New crush blocks fully installed
Crush blocks fully installed

The supplied bumper mounts allow for a strong connection to the frame and a crush zone for proper airbag deployment.  It bolts to the frame at the recovery points, the new crush blocks and through a new vertical hole drilled in the horn.
New crush blocks
New crush blocks
Bumper mounts
installing bumper mounts
Bumper mounts installed

With the bumper mounts installed, it is time to prepare the bull bar for mounting.  This starts with the winch.  The typical WARN requires the handle to be clocked from the 12:00 position to the 5:00 position by removing all of the alien head bolts on the gearbox cover and then lifting the cover 1/8″ and rotating to the new position.  Use caution during the indexing.
WARN winch
WARN winch

Next, install the controller bracket and then the controller.
Controller bracket installed
Controller mounted in bracket

Then, install the bumperettes, which aid in very low speed impacts and to cover the seam weld.
Installation of bumperettes

Below: Installation of the indicator lights.
Installation of indicator lights
Indicator light with bulb inside
Installation of indicator lights
Installation of indicator lights
Indicator lights in bumper
Indicator lights fully installed in bumper

I elected to paint the stock grill, as chrome just doesn’t work for me.  I used a hammered finish spray paint.
Tacoma with grill removed
Tacoma grill reinstalled painted black

Take the assembled bumper and lift it onto the mounts.  It will weigh from 80-160+ depending on the winch, cable and fairlead chosen.  I ultimately changed mine to a Winchline synthetic cable and delrin roller aluminum fairlead to save nearly 30 lbs. from the front end.
There are three bolts per side that secure the bumper.  Fortunately, the holes are slotted to allow for some alignment and positioning.  This is also the most challenging part of the install, and it helps to have an extra set of hands.
Three bolts-secured bumper

Done!
Tacoma with bumoer fully installed

 

Impressions

I am continually impressed with the quality of the ARB products.  It is always refreshing to install and use a product designed specifically for your requirements.  I recommend installing a high quality coil-over or heavy OME springs to accommodate the weight of the bumper/winch.  I also needed to bend the wheel-well side of the bumper metal in slightly to accommodate the large diameter BFGs I run 255/85 R16.
 

    Vendor
    ARB 4×4 Accessories
    720 SW 34th Street
    Renton, WA 98057
    Phone: (425) 264-1391
    Toll Free: (866) 293-9078
    Fax: (425) 264-1392
    Cost
    Retail price of $1,057.11
    Part number ARB 3243020
    *Pricing subject to change, contact vendor
    Weight
    78 lbs. without winch or lights
    Difficulty (Easy, Moderate, Difficult)
    Moderate
    Installation Time
    About 4 to 5 hours
    Specialty Tools Required
    None
    Vehicle
    Expeditions West 2004 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab TRD

Expeditions West Product Rating
Quality
Rating 5/5
Durability
Rating 5/5
Reliability
Rating 5/5
Capability
Increased weight, can be too large for extreme terrain
Rating 4/5
Value
Rating 5/5
Expedition Rating
Rating 5/5
Overall Rating
Rating 5/5

Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. He lives in Prescott, Arizona