Bullbar - Steel/Alloy??

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 00:21
ThreadID: 30916 Views:9186 Replies:16 FollowUps:7
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Hi folks, I'm new to the forum and new to driving a Toyota Prado 90 series so sorry in advance if I start asking to many silly questions, but I gotta start somewhere. :-)

Just wanting to know the pros/cons of fitting steel vs alloy bull bar to the Prado. Would the weight of a steel bull bar have any adverse effect on the stock Toyota suspension up front?? Would be fitting a winch, just after a bit more frontel protection around the bush and supermarket car park. :-o

I like the look of the ECB powder coated alloy bars.... any good?

Thanks all.
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Reply By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 01:16

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 01:16
It boils down to what you are going to use the bull bar for.For more hard core 4w.d. driving out bush the steel bar will prove far superior to the alloy as they are a lot stronger and will bend rather than break.I have seen an alloy bar lose both spotlights (brackets snapped off) just by hitting a flock of galahs.The powder coated alloy bars might look good but remember what the purpose of the bar is for. Strenghth---go steel Looks---go alloy
Only my oppinion.
AnswerID: 155786

Reply By: Exploder - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 03:17

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 03:17
Agree with above

Steel is stronger and will take heavy bush work better and if you happen to hit a roo or wildlife at travelling speed the chances are it will not need to be replaced as a alloy bar will, unless you like the dented bar look.

That being said a alloy bar isn’t useless it will give protection but the chances are if you hit something at speed it will need to be replaced. Have seen an alloy bar on a Patrol after it had hit a Cow, the patrol was doing around 90k/ph the bar did it’s job but was well dented but still holding together and did the 2000k drive back to Perth. A mate hit 3 roo’s and a emu with his ARB steel bar and the bar was still fine wear a alloy bar would need replacing.

I have a TJM alloy bar, have never hit anything with it luckily, it has sustained some damage from when a Commodore sota merged into it at a 2 lane roundabout (I wasn’t in the car at the time) but the bar now has some scratching and a few gougers on the front left side but no dent’s and still look’s fine. The commodore sustained about $1000 damage.

I am no suspension expert but with a steel bar and winch I would think you would need bigger springs to take the weight, a steel bar on it’s own you could probably get away with, alloy bar no problem nice and light.

If you are going to be doing a lot of bush work and driving at night on roads with a high animal strike risk, like northern WA go a steel bar, but if you fit a winch don’t you need a steel bar anyway??
AnswerID: 155790

Reply By: MATT.D(WA) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 03:45

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 03:45
Isuzu Mu,

I would agree with the other posts above in that steel is much stronger than alloy, but when I bought my first bar for my old Jackaroo I did a lot of research and found an alloy bar that was extremely strong. It all depends on what gauge alloy they use as some bars seem identical but they are not. Don't know what state you're in but if you're in WA have a look at Irvin bullbars alloy bars. All I know is I hit quite a few roo's up north when I lived there and no damage to the bar over time. Main damage caused when the buggers fling round into the side of the car.

Worth a look at their website anyway.

Cheers Matt.
AnswerID: 155791

Reply By: russ36 - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 08:09

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 08:09
i hit 4 roos on a recent trip, no damage to the ute or steel bar, so its payed for itself in the one trip. had i chosen an aluminium bar i would be forking out more dollars as soon as i got home to repair the ute and bar. for me, steel is the only way to go. its all about preventing unecessary, costly damage....never have i seen a roo shooter on an outback highway with a nicely polished aluminium bar
AnswerID: 155796

Reply By: tessa_51 - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 08:26

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 08:26
Not quite on the point, but, after you have polished one alloy bar you will never want to own another one!

AnswerID: 155798

Reply By: Pterosaur - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 09:03

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 09:03

I faced the same choice some time ago - eventually ended up with a poly bar - "Smart Bar" from Poly Industries in SA.

I have had a steel bar crumple after a minor collision, damaging 5 panels on my vehicle, and did not want to repeat that experience. The poly bar is a fraction of the weight of a steel bar, (thus no suspension upgrade is needed) and passes all relevant tests. I have one on each of my 2 vehicles, have hit a few wallaby (no big 'roo) and have experienced no damage.

I don't think alloy bars are worthwhile for a number of reasons, mainly to do with their brittle nature and the difficulty in getting them repaired, but again, it depends upon your preferences and potential use.

Check them out for yourself on their website :

Smart Bar
AnswerID: 155802

Follow Up By: Tonbo - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 20:27

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 20:27
I hit a cow at night outside Moomba in a Toyota 78 series work ute ( speed limited to 80 km ) It had a "smart" bar fitted. I braked ( skidded) to approx 70 kms and hit its butt.
The toyota was written off, whole front end smashed in. The bar had returned to its pre accident shape. Yay !!

End result Cow dead, Toyota dead , bar lived. Does that sound "Smart"

I hit a roo at 110 outside Steaky Bay in my own 75 troopie, bar bent slightly, antena bracket hit bonnet small dent , bar hit the indicator lens and broke it. It was a large company with a three letter acronym bar.
It failed where the winch hole lever came through.
I replace it with another TLA company- ARB and hit many other roos with no problem.

Get a ARB Steel bar-Cheap insurance.

FollowupID: 409861

Follow Up By: Pterosaur - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 20:44

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 20:44
Well, it's a bit of a worry - the steel bar that collapsed and stove in my front end (writing off 5 panels) at 30kph was an ARB bar - if anything, i guess results must vary according to the nature of each collision - but I probably would have been better off with the poly bar - because in my case, the (steel) bar was destroyed too.

I don't really care any more - just try not to drive at night when I'm in 'roo or cattle country - seems to be the ONLY foolproof way of not damaging my vehicle terminally.
FollowupID: 409865

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 22:55

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 22:55
I will have to find out the brand but I think it is toyota order. But My cross shift drove into a wall and smashed up the ute pretty well . What caught my attention was not that the roo bar was totalled coz no bar can survive hitting a rock wall but the pathetic spoggy crap welding that held it together
FollowupID: 409882

Reply By: V8Diesel - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 10:47

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 10:47
Owned many of both types myself, no question about it steel is the way to go.
AnswerID: 155822

Reply By: Slow Mower - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 12:32

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 12:32
Frontal protection around the car park ????? you must be joking!! If you intend to use your 4 wheel drive fitted with bull bar and winch to 'muscle' your way around the car parks, then your actions might contribute to adding fuel to the fire regarding the need for bull bars on (mostly) city driven vehicles. Bull bars are for protection from (mostly) bulls, horses, camels, roos, emus IN THE BUSH.
AnswerID: 155835

Follow Up By: Isuzu MU - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 16:46

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 16:46
Thanks Slow Mower,
The car park remark wasn't intended to be taken seriously, you are 100% correct..... I was joking :-) I only own one vehicle, it's a 4x4 and it will go bush and to the shopping centre. I can't aford a second car just for the shopping centre :-).... I don't "muscle" my way around anywhere, bush or suburbs.


FollowupID: 409826

Reply By: Rengat - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 13:15

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 13:15

try looking at this site here, might give you some ideas as which to choose,


AnswerID: 155836

Reply By: BennHW - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 13:25

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 13:25
I'd expect after adding a steel (or even alloy) bullbar and winch you're almost certainly going to need to beef up the front suspension. That's a lot of extra weight either way.

Depending on they type of suspension, you'll need either heavier rated springs or torsion bars.

Sounds like you're still running stock suspension - so if you have to change the front, you might as well go the whole hog and do all four corners and get it lifted while you're at it ... of course, that will mean new shockies if you go down that path.
AnswerID: 155838

Reply By: ev700 - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 15:17

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 15:17

I do not travel much after dark on country roads and limit the dusk/dawn driving when the risks are higher. Suits me to be in camp at those times and I sight see of a day, not at night.

It is better to reduce the risk of hitting an animal because nothing will save you if you are travelling at speed and hit one of the biggies (eg big roo, horse, cow, wombat).

So I went for a Toyota winch compatible alloy 'Cruiser' bar because:

- by changing my hours of travel the risk of animal strike is very much reduced;

- I would be expecting the insurer to fix or replace it afer a reasonable hit;

- my main concern is to be able to get back (ie save radiator) rather than survive many hits;

- a steel bar looks awful on an up-market vehicle;

- a steel bar is heavy; and

- the extra impact that a steel bar could take without deforming would in all probability damage the vehicle's chassis.

For many of us, I think the plastic bars will be the way to go in the future. I didn't go that way this time because the plastic bar for the LC 100 series looks like Dame Edna's glasses.

Go the ECB bar if that is what you like.

AnswerID: 155853

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 17:00

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 17:00
Dont ARB make an up market steel bar , doesnt have to look crap
FollowupID: 409827

Follow Up By: ev700 - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 09:48

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 09:48
Yes ARB don't look as 'commercial'.

ARB quotes were much higher than the Toyota alloy bar and it has alot of weight to it.

There remains the concern about a stiff bar damaging the chassis before it (the bar) absorbs impact and deforms.

FollowupID: 409912

Reply By: Isuzu MU - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 16:50

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 16:50
Thanks everyone for the great information and advice, appreciate your thoughts and knowledge, even your's slow mow!

AnswerID: 155860

Reply By: Hairy - Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 16:52

Sunday, Feb 19, 2006 at 16:52
Go with steel
AnswerID: 155861

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 09:07

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 09:07
Varying results above makes me wonder if some bars are post airbag and some pre airbag.

There is a big difference in bar design starting about 10 years ago because of air bag compatability, and new ADRs.

Basically, if you have airbags, or an air bag compatible 4wd, I doubt you will find a bar tha is as strong as they used to be. The front of the car and chassis is also as not as 'strong'. OK, 'strong' may not be the right word to use, since the newer front ends protect the passengers in an accident better, but at more expense to the vehicle with it crumpling.

Have worked on an off for a bull bar manufacturer over the last 15 years assisting in the design of new bars.

I sometimes wonder if a I went to a new prado or pajero, or ute if I might just go for a nudge bar, and maybe a shoo roo. Save the cost towards a front end repair when it does happen!
AnswerID: 155936

Follow Up By: ev700 - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 09:56

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 09:56

If you are saying that bull bars should absorb some impact then I am with you.

Because damage to the the bull bar is of much less consequence than damage to a chassis from an over-strong bull bar.

For me that was a compelling reason to stay away from one brand of bull bar that was being marketed as super strong.

To each his own.

FollowupID: 409914

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:27

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:27
Be a bit wary about some of the replies you get as they are not relevant for the 90series Prados.

Steel Bars:
For the 90series Prado, you will want to upgrade the IFS front springs if you fit a strong steel bar, and without doubt if you add a winch - the factory front springs are very soft. If you fit heavier front springs, then you'll probably also do the rears to match. If you've done a fair few k's then while you're at it, replace the front struts and rear shocks. So you can see that if you get a steel bar, you'll want/need to upgrade the suspension as well, so add anything up to $1500.

A plus with the steel bars is that you'll be able to use a high lift jack either through a T-hole or with an adaptor.

Alloy Bars:
If you fit an alloy bar, you'll have the issue of keeping it looking good, and if you hit anything with it, theres a good chance you'll need a new bar. I wouldn't recommend it.

Recovery Points:
Don't buy the factory bars, as they bolt up in such a way that the front recovery points need to be ditched. Any of the aftermarket bars do not have this issue.

I used a plastic Smart Bar on the two Prados I owned. They were great. They were light enough, but on the 90series there is a very large steel mounting bracket that proves a lot of the protection towards the headlights. They clear the recovery points very well, so you can still run two chassis mounted rated hooks. You can't get them with a winch. The 90series bars look identical to many of the metal bars going around and most people don't realise that they are plastic. Plastic is dead easy to keep clean, and like they say, most times when you hit something, no damage is done. Theres a lot of 4wders out there with a phobia about plastic.

If your 90series has the safety pack or is a Grande, you can get airbag-compatible bars in all 3 materials. On some of the steel bars, the difference is a crumple area on the mounts which make the steel bar "give" when you hit something. Cannot compare this to other vehicles with rigid bars. The plastic bars have a solid steel mount with the flexibility built into the bar, which sounds better to me.

In summary, if you want to keep the current suspension and don't want a winch then go plastic. If you are happy to upgrade suspension then go for whatever.

AnswerID: 155970

Reply By: DesC - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 18:53

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 18:53
There is only one bullbar that works and it is made by Ivan Wines @ CVT Bullbars Mt Isa. Give him a ring if you want one that works.
AnswerID: 156071

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