A bull bar is a device that is attached to the front of the vehicle which can defend the vehicle and its passengers from a collision with an animal. The first name came from the need to protect against hitting cattle, and in Australia from kangaroos. Early devices were installed only for defense, typically on four-wheel drive vehicles. Now however, these are sometimes used as accessories to provide an off the road look to SUVs, trucks and even some sedans.
There is some controversy on their use. While they can offer protection to a vehicle, they can also pose a risk to pedestrians. A number of pedestrian deaths by collisions with bull bar equipped vehicles led to the European Union banning them on new cars made after January 2003. Later ridged bull bar were banned as an aftermarket accessory by the Union. However, in the United States and Australia they are still a frequent accessory. Australia has passed some laws concerning the design of this type of equipment. Some manufactures use plastic in their products which would deform and is considered safer for pedestrians and the vehicle in the happening of a collision.
There are two important designs of bull bars. One design replaces the front bumper and is the heaviest and most durable style and the other design acts as an addition to the front end. Style may block out lights, so it is common to get light mounting points on aftermarket products. In the United States lots of these products are made from highly polished stainless steel, and are designed to look attractive along with goal of additional protection. Some manufactures offer 2 inch tubing that is powder coating in black which may enhance the look of the bars.
One more style is a combination bull bar and skid plate. This combination is designed for off road driving and offers more protection to the front end of the vehicle than the previous bull bar designs. Typical products are now made so that they can be bolted on rather than the previous ones, which required cutting and sometimes welding for a correct fit. If you are interested in adding a bull bar to your vehicle, you now have a variety of styles and your choices are 2 inch tubing for heavy duty use, 2 and a half for lighter use, and other products for a cosmetic look. If you are going through heavy brush and possible encounters with animals, the heavier systems with skid plates are the ones you should be evaluating.