So you’ve made the decision to get an aftermarket bumper for your truck. Awesome! There’s a wide selection out there so you’re definitely in for a treat.You can buy bumpers with specific attachments to meet your daily needs and there are also bumpers designed with style in mind, sporting a sleek shiny appearance.
While that can make choosing a bumper a bit more difficult, it also means the perfect bumper is just waiting for you. Whatever your needs may be, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind. And that is the thickness of the steel used in the bumper’s construction.
Why does this matter? Read on to find out.
An Introduction to Steel Thickness for Bumpers
Thickness determines the durability, size,and weight of a bumper. Because of that, the proper thickness must be used so that all the different attributes are balanced. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t put a small lid on a large pan. The same can be said about trucks and bumpers.
For instance,a low profile Iron Cross front bumper is made with 10-gauge (about 9/64” thick) steel bumper shell. It’s not meant to do heavy duty work so there’s no need to go overboard with how thick the steel is. On the other hand, a heavy duty Warn winch bumper is constructed using 1/4” and 3/16” steel. They have to be strong and durable so the steel they’re made from needs to be massive as well.
3/16 inch vs. 1/4 inch
The two most common thicknesses for steel used in a bumper are 3/16” and 1/4”. The 1/4” steel is ideal for those looking to make the most of their truck and its accessories. Winches and other utility-based parts are better suited to be attached to 1/4” thick sections of the bumper. The 1/16” difference may not seem like a lot, but it’s necessary for the bumper to withstand the forces such accessories will put it through.
If you’re not going to subject your truck to extreme heavy duty use but you still want it to be tough, then bumpers made with mostly 3/16” steel should work adequately. For a Toyota Tundra front bumper that you won’t be put to extreme use, it’s safe to consider 3/16” options. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to keep the balance between weight and durability in mind.
How Bumper Thickness Affects Off-Road Performance
Off-road truck bumpers need to be strong enough to withstand whatever dangers lie off the beaten path. However, lighter bumpers allow for a more nimble vehicle because less weight makes it easier for the engine to move the truck.
An off-road bumper should be optimized for use in an area where the conditions are less than ideal. It should be able to protect the vehicle from collisions but also light enough to allow proper maneuvering in difficult environments. A Toyota Tacoma winch bumper designed for off-roading purposes should follow these rules, adhering to a design that has a good balance of weight and strength.
The bumper itself does not need to be made completely of 1/4”steel. As long as the appropriate thickness is used for the main parts and welding is done properly, using different thickness on different parts is possible.
A lot of truck owners will use the 1/4” steel for parts that need to be reinforced as well as the frame of the bumper. The thinner 3/16” plates are then used for the shell and wing portions. Using different thicknesses allows the bumper to shave off a lot of weight while still offering appropriate strength and protection where it matters.
Laws Regarding Aftermarket Bumper Modifications
Laws regarding bumpers, both aftermarket and stock, vary from state to state. However, most of these restrictions pertain to the height of the bumper, not the thickness.
For example, in South Carolina, modifications to the height of a vehicle, including the bumper, must not surpass six inches. But if you look at Texas, their rules are less quantitative.The laws there state that the clearance provided must not be less than the clearance between the lowest part of the vehicle’s rims and the roadway.
When determining any modification’s legality, it is best to inquire with local and state-level authorities.
What size bumper you end up going with really depends on your intended use. While 3/16” and 1/4” are the two most common thicknesses when dealing with truck bumpers, this does not mean that your options are limited only to these two.
For off-road use, going for thinner or thicker steel is not recommended given the weight distribution and durability issues they may cause. Generally speaking 3/16” to 1/4” is the sweet spot but there are some scenarios in which steel of varied thickness is effectively used.
BumperOnly has a wide selection of products designed using the proper thickness for its intended purpose. If you’re having trouble finding one that matches your needs, our expert staff are available to help you out. Head over to our store to see our collection and get in touch with us today.