Photo credit: iofoto / Shutterstock.com
Some off-roaders will choose to upgrade their truck’s front bumper because it looks cool. Others will front the money because they’re trying to one-up their buddies. Still others will make a selection based on the bumper’s functionality and how it will best serve them while they’re out wheeling on the trail.
Whatever your reason for the upgrade, bumpers like the new Pro-Series line from the crew at Westin are a heavy-duty, winch-capable unit that will maintain your OEM features in most applications while more than doing the job in terms of looks and functionality. In other words, they’re built for adventure and ready for anything. Sort of like your trusty canine pal—and that’s actually an apt comparison, believe it or not. While a bumper won’t require constant care and feeding like Fido does, off-road bumpers do serve their masters in a number of helpful ways.
With the help of our friends at Westin, here’s a closer look at a few of the benefits, practical and otherwise, of upgrading the front bumper on your truck.
Benefits of an Aftermarket Front Bumper
It’s no secret that automakers have a laundry list of requirements when designing new vehicles – from cost to fuel economy – and sometimes outright off-road prowess is left to the wayside. Luckily, an aftermarket bumper will fix that very quickly, giving you a major upgrade over your OEM option.
Constructed with a 10 gauge steel bumper shell, Westin says their line of Pro-Series bumpers are designed for maximum strength and durability—which is a good thing since, y’know, you’ll likely connect with a rock or three depending on the type of off-road adventure you’ve got planned. With the Pro-Series, a heavy-duty 1/4-inch steel center section (that’s almost 4 gauge steel, if you’re wondering) is capable of holding a 12,000 lb winch while welded recovery mounting points provide a convenient location for field expedient extraction.
When it comes to off-road bumpers, fans have nicknamed them “high and tight,” which is a pretty apt moniker. Generally designed like a warrior’s iron chest plate, they stay close to permit freedom of movement, but remain robust enough to offer protection against impacts. Compared to a stock bumper, aftermarket front bumpers like the Westin Pro-Series sit much higher off the ground and closer to your truck or SUV by design. And you’ll see why this makes such a difference the second you hit the trail.
Features to Consider
When your pops hacked the front bumper off his ’74 Chevy and replaced it with a piece of knotty pine, he didn’t have to worry about sensors or complicated electronics. Even if he did accidentally cut a wire, bodging it back together wasn’t an issue. Today, however, things are just a bit more complicated, which is why an aftermarket bumper worth its salt has provisions for factory proximity sensors that control items like parking beepers and other addenda.
The Westin Pro-Series has these as well, and is also capable of housing either a single or double-row 20″ LED light bar for those late-night rides. (An optional square LED light kit is also available if you really want to light up the dark side of the moon.) And, of course, there are provisions for mounting a winch on these bumpers, which is great for either future planning or utilizing the winch you already have on hand. When adding a winch to your truck, look for a front bumper with a recessed fairlead to help keep winch operation neat and tidy.
Finished in a two-stage treatment, the durable black textured finish on the Pro-Series looks tough and is built to last, providing long-lasting protection against corrosion. And, unlike that pine board, these engineered and tested bumpers include all the necessary mounting hardware for a hassle-free installation. In other words, you shouldn’t have to call in the cavalry for help after disassembling the front half of your pickup.
While designing a ‘one size fits most’ bumper is surely cheaper, companies such as Westin make sure to create custom options for Ford, Chevy, Ram and Toyota applications, making finding a front bumper that fits your truck as easy as plugging in your make, model and year on the product page.
What About Rear Bumpers?
Playing well with any front bumper are matching rears from the same house of design. Electing to install a rear bumping not only visually ties the rear end of your truck to the front, it also adds a yaffle of ground clearance and improved departure angle.
Much like the Pro-Series front bumper, Westin’s Pro-Series rear bumper has been specially designed to play well with OEM hitches as well as a host of other features found on modern pickups. That means there are provisions for blind spot monitors and parking sensors, plus space for LED backup lights should you wish to add them. Each bumper also includes a pair of LED license plate lights (as required by law).
Thanks to a lightweight and slim design, these Pro-Series rear bumpers are generally offered as a single piece unit for most makes and models, though if you’ve got a 2020 Tundra, Westin has you covered with a modular three-piece design built specially for the Toyota truck. Regardless of vehicle, installation is a bolt-on affair with no drilling required.
Installation Tips and Common Costs
Speaking of installation, there are ample resources online to aid you on this front; in fact, there are plenty of videos to be found on YouTube from reputable companies ready to give you a hand. (If there was ever an opportunity to convince your partner that a TV in the garage is an absolute necessity, the time is now.) Good companies make sure all hardware and mounting brackets for installation come included, meaning the days of breaking out the angle grinder and arc welder to install an aftermarket bumper are, mercifully, long gone.
Installation requires tools, of course, though the novices among us will be relieved to learn only simple hand tools are needed to install a new front bumper on your truck in most instances. Adding a Westin Pro-Series rear bumper to a Silverado or Sierra, for example, requires only sockets and wrenches in 10mm and 19mm sizes, plus the ratchet with which to turn them. (Pro tip: a torque wrench would also be handy to make sure the fasteners are tightened to spec.)
Assuming you plan on installing your new bumper yourself, other costs to consider (beyond the initial purchasing cost) include the inevitable add-ons you’re going to want in order to take full advantage of your truck’s new bumper.
To paraphrase Xzibit from his Pimp My Ride days, we heard you like accessories, so you can now accessorize your accessory: a double-row 20-inch LED bar, like the type that’ll fit most Westin Pro-Series front bumpers, have a sticker price in the $200 range. Auxiliary cube lights are a bit less costly, while those flush mount LEDs for your rear bumper are about $100 per pair. So be sure to budget accordingly.
For more on Westin Pro-Series bumpers, click here.