All the Reasons You Need an Aftermarket One
I never gave much thought to bumpers, and likely no one does, until you need a new one. Fender benders don’t tend to total out your vehicle but that doesn’t mean they won’t ruin your day just the same. So while I had contented myself with stock bumpers in the past, let me explain to you all the reasons you should really consider an aftermarket bumper.
Assuming you haven’t gotten into an accident like my example, there are a couple good reasons still to shop for an aftermarket front bumper.
What are the main reasons to buy an aftermarket front bumper?
Why should I consider an aftermarket front bumper?
The main two reasons to purchase an aftermarket bumper, if you don’t need to replace your stock bumper, are:
Aesthetic: the aftermarket bumper looks cool
And Improved Front End Protection
Probably the number one reason to pick up an aftermarket bumper, regardless, is that they look pretty sick. Whereas your stock bumper is probably meant to blend in with the rest of the vehicle, an aftermarket bumper typically does the opposite, making your front end unique and really stand out against the backdrop of your truck or Jeep.
As with most aftermarket parts, many enthusiasts choose a front bumper based upon looks alone. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But a good aftermarket front bumper should also give you the added peace of mind and protection that a hunk of metal bumper should.
Consider that the bumper of your pickup truck is like a battering ram. And when you’re flying down the highway doing 75 mph with metal music blaring out your open windows, screaming bloody murder into the wind, well, then that battering ram is doing 75 mph too. And if you were to say come to a sudden sharp stop because of an accident ahead, I’d rather have that battering ram be made of steel than say plastic.
Stock / OEM Vs. Aftermarket Front Bumpers
Here at Midwest Aftermarket, we value transparency. And while I just suggested that I’d rather have Premium Heavy Duty Carbon Steel that’s been cold rolled into a durable as bleep front bumper, like say ICI’s Magnum PR series, the truth is aftermarket bumpers are designed quite a bit differently than stock or original equipment manufacturer bumpers.
Stock bumpers, often made of everything from plastic to carbon fiber, are designed to protect your vehicle from minor collisions, often labeled “fender benders.” If you were to see a cross section of most OEM bumpers, you’d see that they tend to be a layer of plastic or fiber and then a hollow pocket of air, some sort of energy absorbing material, before you get to the composite bumper beam and metal mounting brackets. While the outside part, the plastic section that shows, technically called the fascia, is the most visible aspect of an OEM bumper, it is also the least useful in an actual collision. The part of the bumper that does the work of absorbing kinetic impact energy is the absorbing material and the bumper beam.
In other words, the fascia, the absorbing material, and the composite bumper beam are designed to give a little, to take in and absorb the damage of a front end collision.
If you’ve ever seen a car that has been in a head on collision, you know exactly what I’m talking about even if the physic behind it are confusing. That front bumper is likely completely gone after a true head on impact. Of course, this means it needs replacing, but the fact that the bumper has been completely destroyed doesn’t mean it failed. That’s a stock bumper’s job, so to speak.
Why am I going into all this detail? I’m glad you asked. Cause whereas a stock bumper is designed to absorb the impact and get destroyed, an aftermarket front bumper is not. Therein lies the major difference between the two.
For the purposes of identifying the difference between the two, consider that the bumper beam, which is behind the stock bumper, is the most important part. The best bumper beams, studies have shown, are those that are reinforced with ribs made of metal. Aftermarket Front Bumpers are typically all metal. Whereas stock bumpers often have everything from thermoplastics to sugar based polymers in the absorbing material and even the beam itself.
So what’s the point?
When your vehicle collides with another object, that stock bumper will give and try to soak up the impact.
When a vehicle with an aftermarket bumper equipped collides with another object, the bumper pushes back.
So which is better? Depends really on what you’re hitting.
When we are talking about minor fender benders with other vehicles, that stock bumper actually is designed to handle the impact pretty well. An aftermarket bumper may actually cause the other vehicle to have more damage, while it will still do a great job, if not a better job of protecting your vehicle.
The differences really come into play when you start talking about high speed accidents and hitting immovable objects.
Recall my battering ram example. This works just great if what you are hitting is say another car on wheels that you can just push out of the way. And a heavy duty steel front bumper will do just that. And if we were storming the gates of an old castle that had a wooden door, yeah, I’ll take that steel front bumper every day of the week.
But what if you are hitting a concrete, steel reinforced beam, like the kind you see on the highway holding up overpasses? This scenario, one in which you are in a large truck with an aftermarket steel bumper traveling at speeds in excess of 60 mph, you might actually be better off with the OEM bumper. Why?
That stock bumper is designed to give, absorb the impact, and then try to distribute the energy evenly across the frame of your truck.
The aftermarket bumper is designed not to give. While you and your passengers will likely be just as safe with the aftermarket front bumper as the stock one, your vehicle is just as likely, if not more likely to be totaled. Confused yet? The reason isn’t the bumper, exactly. It’s what the bumper is attached to.
All that energy is sent along the metal mounting brackets into the frame of your truck. The stock bumper absorbs more of the energy because it gives and breaks into tons of little pieces. The aftermarket bumper can take more of a beating personally, but it still has to pass that energy from the impact along to the rest of the vehicle’s frame.
Let’s be realistic here, and transparent, for that matter. Either way, in this particular example, your truck is probably totaled. There’s no beating around the bush on it. But we want you to know that while in a number of accident scenarios, you are safer and less likely to get your vehicle damaged if you have an all steel aftermarket front bumper, there are a few specific examples where the stock bumper may have actually lessened damage to your vehicle.
It is something to think about and weigh carefully. Now would I let those few examples deter me from installing an aftermarket bumper on my truck? Hells no. Pro tip: don’t hit concrete reinforced steel beams, regardless of what kind of bumper you have. Am I right?
But we thought we’d spell it out regardless.
The Muddy Field Vs. the Ford Ranger
So here’s the story. My wife, before she was my wife, back in the day, used to borrow her step dad’s little Ford Ranger and go out cruising with her best friend. They mostly drove around town and boonie cruised--a.k.a. driving around the countryside on backroads.
Now before you make fun of us, there’s not much to do growing up in a small town. It was pretty much stand around on Main Street or cruise. You try growing up in a town without stoplights and then tell us how fun it is.
Anyway, so there’s just been this huge rain storm coming through, and my wife and her best friend are out boonie cruising the next day. It was early Spring, when it is just warm enough to have the windows down, but there ain’t nothing in the fields yet growing.
They’re probably rocking out to some country tune on the radio, not really paying attention. Now this particular path, out near a very dangerous boonie cruising road called Seven Sisters, there’s a specific Y-turn.
The road basically forks. Now my wife had driven this thing like a million times before. But for some reason, on this particular day, it must have just slipped her mind cause as they came up on the Y, she didn’t slow down or prepare to turn or flip on her blinker or, for that matter, even attempt to turn.
Her friend tells me that she just turned and looked straight at her, extended her right arm out in front of her like she’s protecting a baby or something, and said with a very deadpan voice, “Hang on. We’re gonna crash.”
I can actually relate. If you’ve ever been in an accident before, then you know what she’s talking about. It’s like time slows down and you just know there’s no getting out of this one. Your ticket has done been punched. We’re gonna crash this time. It just happens.
So she stuck out her arm, and instead of following the Y, picking a path, that old Ranger just careened straight ahead.
And that probably would have been fine. You wouldn’t believe how many times in my life I’ve veered off into a field while driving my Chevy only to bounce right back onto the road. No harm, no foul. As long as there isn’t a fence or something there, I mean, it isn’t like you’re doing any real damage.
Unless of course if you’re like my little brother who once drove through a corn field with his buddies out joy riding. That’s some damage my friend. And it's even worse when farmer Tom comes after you with a shotgun. But I digress.
The point is, my wife and her friend, they should have been fine. Would have been able to just keep on driving into this barren field and make their way back onto the road at a nice spot where the ditch wasn’t too steep.
But see that’s part of the problem. First, the ditch at this particular location, right at the Y turn, it’s pretty steep. So the Ranger didn’t just coast on down a little divot and then into the empty field. Nope. She got airborne.
So now this Ranger that was doing 60, 65 miles per hour on the road, is doing 60, 65 and picking up speed from the forces of gravity. And her nose is tipping forward a bit. And you can see where this is going.
It’s about to be a rather nasty wreck. And my wife, the driver, she’s just looking at her friend, all deadpan like. You can see how I feel for her right there. Real calm under pressure. Or maybe she just knew they’d be alright.
And they were too. And it wasn’t because of no aftermarket bumper. It wasn’t cause of the stock bumper neither. It was cause of all that rain.
When the front bumper of that Ford Ranger touched down, she didn’t so much impact as she sank in. It was like hitting a pool of quicksand at high speed. The front end of the Ranger went into the mud a good two or three feet.
The lucky thing was that the gals were both wearing their seatbelts and both walked away mostly unscathed. By the time her step dad showed up to pull them out though, even more of that Ranger’s hood was lodged in the mud. It must have looked pretty ridiculous. That ass end of the Ranger sticking up into the air like that. And those two girls sitting on the tailgate, probably smoking and drinking (soda I’m sure), just staring back at that Y turn.
As the story goes, her step dad asked what happened, and she just smiled and said, “We wrecked.”
Now that stock bumper actually did its job and absorbed the impact damage pretty well. But what did an even better job, was her step dad’s aftermarket front bumper on his big work truck, an F-250 with a winch installed in that aftermarket bumper, I might add.
He pulled that Ranger out no problem, and no one was the wiser. I don’t even think the police had enough time to be called, let alone show up. But the front end of that Ranger…
Needless to say, step dad was suddenly in the market for an aftermarket bumper. And that’s the thing about stock bumpers. Yes, that bumper did absorb the damage and protect the girls. But it also disintegrated into little bits of thermoplastic and metal. It was completely destroyed, even though they’d just landed in a big field of mud. In this particular example, they definitely would have been better off with an aftermarket metal bumper. Heck, they maybe have even smashed through most of the mud and just kept on going if they’d had a good, tough bumper. But instead, they got stuck in that mud. Hey, at least they had a good story to tell, I guess.
And hey, step dad got a new Iron Cross bumper out of the deal. I’m sure my wife paid for at least part of it. Sure she did.
A good aftermarket front bumper is durable, has style, and even great options. Many front bumpers come with the option to install winches, like my wife’s step dad’s, or even auxiliary light bars.
While scientifically we could certainly come up with examples where you’d be just as safe behind a stock bumper, I prefer a full steel aftermarket front bumper personally. They look pretty sick, give your truck character, add extra peace of mind and protection and durability, and even have additional customization options like winches and light kits.
And if you’ve ever had to replace a stock or OEM bumper before, then you know they cost a pretty penny. You’d be better off taking that insurance check and heading over to Midwest Aftermarket to pick up a cool new Grump from Fab Fours. Those things are sick.
Regardless of which aggressive bumper you choose, make sure you order from Midwest Aftermarket. Our collection of front bumpers, winches, light bars, 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.