Grille guards are a tubular protector that spans across the front end of the vehicle. Regardless of the type of grille guard you buy, these units will anchor to the frame of the vehicle. Despite the reasonable anchoring point, many will have their limitations and not all are created equally.
What is Protected by a Grille Guard?
Grille guards span across the front end of the vehicle, which offers quite a bit of protection. As the name would suggest, the first thing being protected is the grille. A tubular bar running from end to end can be the difference between a stick and other types of off-road debris from ripping into that beautiful grille. Most implore the use of brush guards, which add protection to the headlights as well. This isn’t always an option though and will need to be taken into consideration when shopping.
Another form of front-end protection is a bull bar. Bull bars offer minimal protection to the lower end of the vehicle, which is more of an effort to bash through or roll over low lying obstacles. Though they serve an important function, they should not be confused with a grille guard as they serve two totally different purposes.
Function vs Form
Though grille guards are designed to offer an additional level of protection to the front end, some are less capable than others. This isn’t to say that they don’t all do their job; it does boil down to the fact that some are more form oriented than they are function. The purpose built grille guards are generally more expensive but are worth the expense. The last thing you want to do is go through the pain of ordering and installing only to face inevitable failure.
Grille guards that are designed to mount to the frame are generally the flimsier option. A lot of manufacturers design grille guards to mount to the frame. The cheaper options use thinner gauges and cheaper materials. You want to pay attention to these features if you plan to actually put the grille guard to use.
When built right into an aftermarket bumper, grille guards are much more effective in most cases. The gauge of the tubing used is likely much thicker as the tubing will probably be welded into the thick gauge steel or aluminum of the bumper itself. The cost of this option is much higher, but if you plan to rigorously beat on the front end of your Tacoma, this is the proper route to take.
Whether it’s decorative or for utility use, grille guards allow for mounting of additional add-ons to the truck itself. For the most part, they provide additional mounting surfaces for lighting, but they can also allow for other important off-road accessories to be bolted into place. This of course comes down to how the grille guard itself is mounted. As you shop around, you need to consider how you’re going to use your Tacoma and what add-ons you will need along the way.
Independently Mounted Add-Ons
Grille guards that mount freely of the bumper allow for very little in the way of add on mounting options. In most cases, they give owners the option to mount auxiliary lighting to the tubular surfaces. If you don’t plan for hardcore off-road use, you may not even need to add on the lighting. The KC highlighters and the Tacoma go hand in hand though so if you pop a grille guard on yours, we beg of you, please get those signature smilies on there.
Bumper Mounted Add-Ons
Aftermarket bumpers with grille guards built into them will usually a little more when it comes to accessory mounting capabilities. One major advantage they have is the ability to house a winch in the bumper itself. Along with the winch, auxiliary lighting can be mounted to the bumper with a proper, OE feel. Sure, the grille guard isn’t the mounting surface per say, but if the truck is going to serve a utility purpose this is another reason to consider this option. Though, we still say you’re going to need those KC lights for the right look.
Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro