Animal strikes and brush bars

ultraclyde

Observer
A lot of the guys in my area (SE US) that have brush bars on their vehicles never set a tire in the dirt. When asked about the brush bars they usually tell me it's to prevent damage from hitting whitetail deer - we have a LOT of them down here, often well over 100lbs. But every vehicle I've ever seen that hit a deer while running a brush bar still had a ton of damage, either from off-angle hits, deer parts going through the bars, or from the bars being slammed back into the grill/headlights/hood.

So I thought I'd ask the forum here - probably the widest net of brush bar enthusiasts I could think of. In your experience, are brush bars an effective means of protecting a vehicle from large animal strikes? Does it decrease damage enough to justify the cost ($1500+) of the bars? Or do they contribute to damage by smashing other bits and possibly transferring force to the frame that might not have been otherwise? Discuss.

I'm not wild about the looks of any bar I've seen on my F150, and I'm not convinced that they help all that much.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Many of those guards are poorly mounted, and not strong enough to fend off a large animal strike. They may not reduce body damage, but some will at least prevent a disabling event be keeping the radiator intact. In the worst case I have seen deer go right through the radiator and smash the engine up. In one case the resulting oil loss destroyed the engine.

In my view a well mounted bull bar or guard/bumper will weight at least 100lbs. If it moves when you jump on it? Its probably not mounted well enough. The exception is the bars with springs built in to absorb impacts.

Many times I have seen deer jump well above hood height, landing on the hood, and even in the windshield. Not much to stop that.

Its not pretty, but some 10 gauge steel tubing, and 10" on center cross bars between the headlights will generally prevent animal carcasses from impinging on the engine compartment. Damaged to bumper supports etc is likely, but at least the vehicle will drive.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Brush guards are called damage multipliers around here. They weigh next to nothing, are held on with a couple of bolts.

522878

Just realize there are two types of front end protection with respect to animal strikes. The ARB bull bar is designed for this purpose and when you compare them to the Westin (or similar) appearance bars it should be obvious.

They will bend but there's substantial amounts of steel and the mass is deflected up or down away from the critical parts in the front. Hit something large enough and you can still lose headlights, dent sheet metal but the radiator, suspension, etc. usually survives just about anything. Small strikes aren't a problem. But an ARB weighs 100 lbs and come with 15 lbs of hardware to mount.

522876

The Ranch Hands are the only grill guards that I think might provide some protections, at least in the middle they seem rigid. I'd worry about the wings still. They weigh a lot, too.

522877

Or the ones like you see on USFS ranger trucks, like the Warn or I think a Westin HD something. If the center is built to carry a winch it's probably going to be fairly strong. But look at the size of the wings ahead of the headlights, closer (or maybe the same) 1.75" as the ARB.

522879
 
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luthj

Engineer In Residence
The better units use heavy wall tubing for the "wings". Which will deflect a medium sized animal. At a minimum it prevents the headlight from being pushed in, which can damage intake, battery, wiring etc. The very light ones are so poorly made/mounted, that a strike to the bumper region will push them into the hood/lights. Which takes what would be a bumper cover replacement, and turns it into paint and body work.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
The Aussies don't mess around. I have a friend who commutes at 4am from swing shift. Has lost 4 cars in 10 years to big red roos. That is with good bull bars. Eventually one gets over the bar into the windshield area.
 
I notice most of these types of bars deflect the object upwards and over the hood of the vehicle, directly into the path of the windshield with hopes of clearing the hood. A good reference of this is the deputy's vehicle pictured above.

What about if the object was deflected downward and under? I realize do so on typical on-highway vehicles with average ride height would result in loss of vehicle control. More of a chance of losing control going under vs over the top. BUT what about those vehicles with higher ground clearance?

Those top bars are 2.5 inches and are leaned forward.
VS
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I notice most of these types of bars deflect the object upwards and over the hood of the vehicle, directly into the path of the windshield with hopes of clearing the hood. A good reference of this is the deputy's vehicle pictured above.

What about if the object was deflected downward and under? I realize do so on typical on-highway vehicles with average ride height would result in loss of vehicle control. More of a chance of losing control going under vs over the top. BUT what about those vehicles with higher ground clearance?
There's a matter of physics here. Given enough mass and velocity it's impossible to escape a big enough collision with zero damage. Only speculating but the deputy was probably moving really fast and hit a sizable deer. Consider the implication of not having that nudge bar in this case just in terms of where the damage would have occurred.

The reason ARB (just as an example) designs their bull bars to deflect up or down is in the Outback you can survive a few days driving with a dented hood and cracked windshield while a punctured radiator or torn off suspension spindle are real problems. So reducing the speed from responding to a call at 100 MPH and put yourself a bit higher and the outcome changes.

An 80,000 lbs over the road tractor-trailer can absorb hitting a deer and safely direct it down and under or carry something big and heavy enough to just deal with it (like a locomotive's cow catcher) while that may not be true of a passenger vehicle. How that factors into a bumper or guard design I couldn't say. I do know ARB (just as an example) has a lot of real world and lab crash data to draw upon.
 

ultraclyde

Observer
I've seen plenty of deer around here whose body would clear that lower bar when they're running, at least on a mildy lifted or stock vehicle. I think having something at least as tall as your hood line is a lot better.
 

BritKLR

Kapitis Indagatoris
If you put enough miles on a rig you're bound to run into something or something is bound to run into you. I've always had an ARB on my LC's with great luck and Ranch Hand on my full size trucks. The ARB's have saved me from the dreaded minivan animal that loves to jump stop signs and the RH has saved my truck from slow moving cows that are crossing the road and want to scratch an itch on the front of your truck, to my Tiger having a buck bouncing across the front of it while dashing across the road.

You do get what you pay for when it comes to brush guards. If you looking for real protection, versus looks, stay with the brands that were designed for the ranching/cattle/petroleum exploration industries. These tend to be big, heavy and structurally designed for the type of impacts you may run across in the back country. Be safe.522927522928522929522930522931
 

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doug720

Expedition Leader
A couple examples of my own experiences with deer and vehicles.

We spend a lot of time each year in an area with lots of deer. I also like to fish early and late, both prime times for deer to move about. Even being aware, I have collided with 3 deer over the years in our 60 LandCruiser. First was very lucky for me and my 60, as the deer slipped, and I more ran it over with no damage. After that I installed an ARB bumper.

I have hit 2 deer since the ARB, all under 40 MPH, but no damage to me or the 60. The Deer...a lot more damage! ARB's work.

Last fathers day, I had 2 deer jump out in front of me on my Honda VFR street bike while going 50-60 mph. They jumped out of a ravine about 30 feet in front of me. Brake and hang on...Hit the first near dead center, then into the second one behind it. Amazing part? 2 dead deer and I did not crash!!!

Totaled my bike, and I was covered in blood, but unhurt!

Someone mentioned animals coming through windshields. In high school, 3 of my friends were heading to Mammoth to ski. They hit a cow at night on 395 near Bishop. The cow came through windshield and killed the 2 in front. The third guy was laying down asleep in the back seat and lived!

One never knows when!!!523130523131523132523133
 
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ultraclyde

Observer
that is the ONLY deer-moto story I've ever read where someone stayed up. Hell, it's one of the FEW I've heard where the rider walked away.
 
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