Bug Deflectors and Hood Shields
Your Guide to All Things Bug Deflectors
What is a Bug or Stone Deflector?
Is there a difference between a bug deflector and a hood protector?
When it comes to Bug Deflectors, everyone has their own preferences. Heck, everyone has their own term for ‘em. Some companies and customers call ‘em Bug Deflectors. Others say they’re Stone Deflectors. How about Hood Protectors and Shields? Sure. Why not?
At the end of the day though, no matter what you call it, that piece of plastic, be it ABS or Thermoplastic, powercoated or partially see-through, is designed to prevent anything--and everything--from bugs to rocks to plastic bags randomly flying down the highway, from hitting your hood and windshield. It is as simple as that.
While we have no doubt that some deflectors or shields are better at deflecting rocks and bugs than others, in light of an actual wind tunnel and co-workers willing to subject their trucks to vigorous bug smashing testing (possible video coming soon?), we will have to make certain assumptions.
First off, depending on your truck or Jeep make, your vehicle will have a varied rate of aerodynamics. The way the wind rushes up and over your hood and then windshield is not going to be the exact same as another vehicle, per se. However, we can be certain that one of the first likely contact points on your vehicle for either a pebble kicked up by a semi-truck or a cricket taking an evening flight is your hood--specifically the very front of your hood.
And for this very obvious reason, almost every Bug Deflector on the market resides here--at the front of your hood. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how you should select your new Hood Protector.
What are the key factors you should consider when purchasing a Bug Deflector or Hood Protector?
How should I choose a stone protector for my ride?
There are several factors that should be considered when purchasing a bug deflector:
Ability to Deflect: Whether that be bugs, rocks, or whatever you hit regularly when driving.
Aesthetics: How good will it look on my ride.
Material: What is it made out of?
Cost: How much is it?
Some of these factors are fairly scientific. Again, if I could get the boss to pay for time in a windtunnel and find some brave soul, besides myself, to volunteer his or her truck for the day, I could do this deflection test and tell you for certain which protector works best for that particular year / make / model of truck. Okay, that does sound tedious, but kinda fun too?
Some of the factors are personal. You have to decide what you think looks good on your truck or Jeep. No one else can decide for you. And if you have already added a custom paint job or other aftermarket parts, you’ll want to consider how your new hood shield is going to look alongside those all.
Some of the factors will be based on personal opinion. I, for instance, am particularly fond of ABS plastic coated with texture of some kind, and if you could add on some recessed bolts, that’d really make my day. But many others prefer matte black finishes or partially see-through plastics. Each their own, I say--even when they are wrong! So dead wrong!
Finally, the cost factor has to do with your own personal finances, how deep your pockets are, and how much you want to spend on a bug deflector. While the spread isn’t as much as say something like a tonneau cover which could cost upwards of a thousand, some hood protectors can cost you over $100 and some are less than that, coming in as low as about $50 something dollars. We aren’t saying that the $150 bug deflectors is the best because it costs more. We also aren’t calling the lower priced ones cheap. We simply are stating the facts of the prices of various bug deflectors. If you can’t bring yourself to drop over $100 on a hood protector, then you can’t afford any of those. Simple. Also, you might be missing out on the best damn bug deflector ever to see the light of day on God’s green earth. But hey, if cost is your main concern, then more power to you, man.
Let’s breakdown all these aspects in our Hood Protector Roundup!
Bug Deflector Breakdown
A.k.a the Hood Protector Roundup
--that’s really growing on me, btw.
While I won’t call out individual brands or styles exactly in order to do a review of each, and many companies make several different kinds or types of bug deflectors, I will now try to establish the different styles and why you might consider one or another based upon those factors presented above.
Wind tunnel experiment notwithstanding--that’s found its way onto the proverbial back burner, so to speak--so I’ve gotta rely on good ol’ fashion eyesight. I know. How scientific of me.
So I can’t test all the products in a controlled gale force wind environment, but I can look at the particular shape and design of each. Having done so--and thoroughly--I can comfortably say that there are roughly two or three main shapes for deflectors or protectors of the hoods:
The opposite of Low Profile… Er… High Profile? Extended--how about we call these Extended style?
Hybrids between the two: Medium Extensions? Sigh. Naming is hard.
And while there might be some in-betweens or hybrids--I think that’s growing on me--many bug deflectors fall in one category of the other.
Low Profile, Aerodynamic Hood Protectors
Let’s take a look at a great Low Profile example, the AVS Aeroskin:
Anything called Aeroskin should immediately give you an impression of what it is supposed to be: it forms a “protective layer” of “skin” over your hood. Duh. It is also “Aero” as in “aerodynamical.” If that is even a word. It should be!
Now I’m not saying this hood protector is great or the best or neither of those. But let’s have a look at the design. This is a Low Profile deflector. It is easy to install, requiring no drill work whatsoever. And it sits as close to flush with your hood as physically possible.
Now I have no doubt that this “skin-tight” protector does shield your hood from stones and bugs, but it doesn’t have any real humps or dumps--no bleeps, sweeps, or creeps, if you catch my drift.
What I mean, of course, is that this design doesn’t offer a lot of--what I’ve just now decided to call--deflection ability. Image something not super harmful to your hood or windshield, like say, a small bug--a June bug. Those smash real nice against windshields, don’t they? Let’s say you’re flying down the highway doing a gentle 75 in your pickup truck. A June bug hits your brand new AVS Aeroskin. Depending on the angle of deflection, that puppy could go just about anywhere, but the faster you’re moving, the more likely she’s gonna skid right off that Aeroskin and into your windshield.
Now that doesn’t mean the Aeroskin isn’t good at its job. It is called a Hood protector, after all, not a Windshield protector. And it is going to protect the majority of your hood. Even a small about of material that sticks above the surface of your hood at high speed is going to deflect most small objects like bugs and rocks away from your hood, if said objects hit the protector, that is.
Now this is still the most likely place for you to strike a bug or rock on your hood (your windshield is a pretty large target too, but we’ve covered that already). But another factor you might consider is how big the protector is and again how far it Extends up into the air. This is a particularly snug Low Profile hood protector. It is designed to look aerodynamic (and be so too) and protect your hood.
So what about more Extended Styles.
Extended Style Bug Deflectors
An Extended style deflector will come out above or in front of your hood--probably both--and much more so than a low profile. This might only be a couple of inches, but imagine how much a couple of inches can do when we are talking about high speed deflection.
The deflector’s shape and thickness will allow it to cover more of your hood and even part of your windshield in some cases. Note that with the Low Profile design, I called it a Hood Protector specifically since that is the majority of what it is protecting. Here, however, I’ve gone with Bug or Rock Deflector because now I think we are in for some serious deflections.
A good example of what I mean by Extended Deflectors is WeatherTech’s Stone & Bug Deflector, which you can see right ‘ere:
Not only is the WeatherTech Deflector extended in front and above of your hood, but also note the design shape. That gentle curve in the plastic could be thought of as an aesthetic element--and don’t get me wrong, I think it does add to the appeal of the guard--but it also helps to deflect whatever hits it up into the air, and with any luck, over your windshield and behind your truck or Jeep.
And this is what I mean about Deflection ability. A protector or deflector designed like this is much more likely to deflect small objects up and over your windshield as well as your hood, protecting both. Now that isn’t to say that some bugs and / or rocks couldn’t miss this bad boy. It isn’t a full front shield that extends out in front of your truck like some sort of force field--though that sounds pretty sick, now that I’ve said it out loud.
No, but an Extended deflector will likely catch a lot more than its aerodynamic cousin.
Hybrid Style Bug Deflectors / Hood Protectors
For me, there is almost always a middle ground. That sweet area where the best of both worlds meet. Maybe I don’t want a shield that extends up above my hood that much or I’m not super into that aerodynamic look of a low profile protector. Well, we’ve got a great example of a hybrid Hood Protector for you.
FormFit’s Tough Guard Hood Protector
From just a quick glance, I think you can tell what I mean. This baby isn’t curved like the WeatherTech and designed to ride as high or out in front, but it isn’t as “skin-tight” as the Aeroskin either. This is in that in-between area.
That means she will cover more of your hood than a more low profile protector but she will also deflect more bugs and rocks too. She might not be quite as good at deflecting as a more Extended and curvy style deflector, but she makes up for that by being chunky.
That’s right! She’s thick, more heavy duty, and just look at those bolts! Alright, I’m already getting into the aesthetic part, but hey, there’s really no time like the present to do so.
Aesthetic Appeal of the Deflector or Protector
I know that personal preference really comes into play when you talk about how good something looks. And I’m no exception. I really love that aggressive style of FormFit’s Tough Guards. There is something about that “bolt-on” style that I just love. And if you’ve got Pocket or Bolt style Fender Flares, well, they’ll be matching!
However, I recognize that Bolts aren’t for everyone. So if you’re looking for that more aerodynamic look, then get yourself a Low Profile hood protector. And if you want maximum deflection ability, a more Extended style is likely your jam. If you like those curves, that WeatherTech Deflector--I don’t know. There’s just something about her, am I right?
Aesthetics is personal. So you want to consider just what this particular part is going to look like on the front of your vehicle. You might want to match your other aftermarket parts. If you have a lot of chrome on your ride, chances are a chrome hood protector will suit you just fine. If you’re rocking mostly matte black, stick to that particular shade and finish. FormFit’s Tough Guards come in both smooth satin black and Textured black for just that reason. No one can tell you what is going to look best on your truck for you. You’ll have to decide for yourself, but we hope some of these examples will help you figure out what best fits your ride, aesthetically.
The last big factor to consider other than your pocket book is the construction and material of the actual deflector. Of course this is related to the aesthetics and the deflection ability too. This section is fairly simple because most are made from either some form of plastic or acrylic. Let’s quickly break down those subtle differences.
There are two great features to acrylic: it can be partially or near completely see-through and it is paintable.
If you want that see-through look with shadow, smoke is most often the word used to describe these acrylic deflectors or bug shields.
If you are looking to color match, acrylic is also a great way to go because these hood protectors tend to be smooth and paintable.
Plastics, such as ABS, and polycarbonates are the other materials deflectors tend to be made from. In general, plastics are simply stronger material, but these pieces often are also thicker. So if you are looking for a more defined hood protector, these styles are great options.
Finally, we have FormFit again doing it different, which in this case is a good thing. With their Tough Guards, they’ve managed to combine a top layer of paintable acrylic with a bottom layer that is all ABS plastic. This means it has the durability of the plastic and the paintability of the acrylic. Of course, you can paint plastic too. Still this is pretty intelligent design. Of course, it isn’t like Tough Guards are see-through at all, so that acrylic aspect is out the window. You can’t have all the pros.
In this category, you should also consider whether or not the install requires any drilling or not. These days, most of the hood protectors we sell are attached using either 3M tape or fasteners that utilize existing mounts. But if you absolutely are against drilling into the hood of your truck or Jeep, make sure that you are getting a bug deflector that requires no-drilling. That is a must.
Again, the point here isn’t that one material is necessarily better than another. This is going to come down to personal preference again. If you want something more see-through, then those acrylics are going to work best for you. If you’re looking for something more rugged, try a polycarbonate or ABS plastic. And if you want to have your bug guard painted, then definitely make sure it is paintable.
Again, we imagine that the spread between the lowest price and highest priced bug deflector is pretty small--at the time of this writing roughly $100. So chances are price is not the biggest determining factor. Nevertheless, if you think $150 is too much to drop on a hood protector, you’re probably going to be sticking in the acrylic range. And if you want something bigger or more aerodynamic or just more custom fit to your vehicle, chances are you are going to get into the lower $100’s.
While cost shouldn’t be your main consideration, if you are looking at a price difference between two deflectors that you think look similar in a picture, double check what each is made of, whether or not both are paintable (and if that matters to you), and whether or not both are custom fit to your ride. A custom fit guard is almost always going to look better and do a better job of deflecting bugs and rocks than a non-custom one. And most good hood protectors on the market are truly custom fit.
Ready to Order your New Bug Deflector?
Think you know what you want? Ready to pickup your new Hood Protector or Bug Shield? We’ve got the Bug Deflector for your ride in stock and ready to ship! We hope you’ll order from us. Midwest Aftermarket's collection of bug deflectors, hood protectors, pickup bed covers, truck running boards, and much more includes all the leading styles and brands. Midwest Aftermarket is the #1 online retailer for aftermarket truck and Jeep accessories, selling products at the lowest prices and providing the best customer service in the industry. With the goal to provide the highest quality product with the fastest shipping at affordable prices, look no further for your vehicle’s aftermarket accessories. From UTV’s to Jeep-fanatics to F150’s or Chevy Silverado’s, Midwest Aftermarket will give you the customer support you deserve.