Bumpers serve many purposes. This is especially true for Jeeps, which traverse a variety of terrains. The primary purpose of bumpers is to protect your Wrangler in an accident, but the right bumper can help with your off-roading endeavors. Replacing your Wrangler’s front and rear bumpers is one of the easiest ways to customize it to suit your needs. New bumpers can also change your Wrangler’s appearance.
To select the perfect replacement bumper, you should first think about what your ideal use would be. Do you plan to mount a winch to your Jeep? What types of areas do you most enjoy off-roading in? Do you need a winch-capable rock-crawling bumper? Or something light so you aren’t weighed down at the beach?
With those factors in mind, here are just some of the Wrangler bumper options available to you.
Front and Rear Stock Wrangler Bumpers
Your Jeep Wrangler’s engine, transmission, and other critical components are stored upfront. This is why most people focus more on beefing up the front bumper than the rear one. But rear bumpers still offer utility, especially if you’re interested in towing with your Wrangler.
Most Jeeps made after 2007 have plastic bumpers, but steel upgrades have been available for some years and packages. Most Jeep owners elect to upgrade their bumpers through the aftermarket though.
Aftermarket bumpers can provide additional protection. They can also improve the Wrangler’s already-impressive off-roading capabilities. Upgrading your bumper is necessary if you plan on installing off-roading basics, like winches.
None of this is to knock the Jeep’s stock bumper system. The plastic bumper system has won awards. The combination of lightweight material and durability has gotten a lot of praise. If you’re primarily using your Jeep Wrangler as your daily driver, then you may want to keep your stock front and rear bumper.
There are some cross compatibilities with different Wrangler generations’ bumpers. This is great for people who have already invested in a high-quality aftermarket bumper.
It’s also great for Jeep drivers who love a modern Wrangler but like having the front bumper of an older generation.
The TJ and YJ can borrow each other’s bumpers, and the JK and JL can do the same. Do keep a lookout for aftermarket bumpers that are specific about years. Each generation’s bumper measurements are close, but aftermarket selections may require more exactness.
One reason to upgrade your bumper is to select a non-plastic one. Different bumper materials can be beneficial depending on use. The material a bumper is made out of will affect its overall durability.
Different materials and powder-coatings create very different appearances. This means that the overall “look” you’re building towards is worth considering very early on. There are a lot of options, so there should be a material that suits every combination of purpose and appearance.
Steel is one of the most popular materials for aftermarket Jeep bumpers. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward. Steel is strong, inexpensive, and stylish. To prevent corrosion, many offer steel that has been powder-coated. Not only does this help a bumper withstand the elements, but also it’s very attractive and allows for a degree of customization.
Stainless Steel Bumpers
Stainless steel is another material frequently used for constructing Jeep bumpers. Stainless steel is a steel alloy, that’s more corrosion resistant than steel. It’s also a good deal lighter.
Cold Rolled Steel Bumpers
Some bumpers have “cold rolled steel plating.” Unlike stainless steel and other alloys, cold rolled steel is simply finished steel. The finishing process makes this particular type of steel thinner and harder.
The cold rolling process doesn’t give this steel any additional corrosion resistance, so it will still frequently be powder-coated.
Titanium and carbon powder-coating add additional hardness. The primary reason people prefer these over a traditional powder-coat is that the different metals affect appearance. This combination of practical advantage and style customization is one of the best things about Wrangler accessories in general.
Tubular Bumpers are available for front and rear bumper replacements. The tubular bumper design has been popular since the ‘80s, and it doesn’t appear to be lessening in desirability. There are a few reasons for this popularity.
The first major advantage to tube-style bumpers is their weight. These are some of the lightest aftermarket bumper options. Another major advantage of tubular bumpers is the wide range of compatible lighting options. If your idea of a great off-roading experience is a lonely beach at nighttime, then these bumpers might work well for you.
Out of all the aftermarket bumper options, tubular bumpers are probably the most cost-effective. This makes them popular for those who are interested in a non-stock look but don’t have any particular needs.
Naturally, there are some downsides to the tubular bumper’s lightweight design. The first is that most tubular bumpers cannot handle the weight of a winch. There are a few that can, so if you need a winch but love tubular bumpers, you will still have options.
The second downside to tubular bumpers is that they can fall victim to premature rust. Like most tubes, these bumpers are hollow, and water can get inside and then sit. To avoid this, look for tubular bumpers with welded ends.
Factory-Width Bumper Options
The Wrangler’s factory bumper is wide, which creates a lot of protection. While many aftermarket bumpers are focused on the grille area, the factory bumper curves around the entire width of the Wrangler. Unfortunately, the plastic isn’t as protective as some Wrangler owners need. Thankfully, there are factory-width non-plastic bumpers available. These factory-width bumpers offer the maximum level of protection.
Despite the name, these bumpers usually have little in common with your stock ones. Though stock bumper replacements are available, they’re not the same as factory-width bumpers. These full-width bumpers are usually steel rather than plastic. Because they’re factory-width, your wheels and fenders gain protection as well.
Most factory-width aftermarket bumpers will have winch and d-ring options. The styling of these bumpers ranges from aggressive to subtle, with something in-between for nearly every Jeep-er. Though still wide, these bumpers are cut to offer better off-roading angles, like your approach angle or departure angle, as well.
As with any bumper option, there are downsides. For factory-width bumpers, the major downside is weight. Your stock bumper is made out of lightweight plastic and changing that material to something heavier creates a lot of extra weight. Additional weight will affect everything from your gas mileage to your handling. These are also one of the more expensive bumper options.
Stubby bumpers end up being the perfect compromise for many Jeep Wrangler owners. This bumper style is also available for both your front and rear bumpers. These bumpers don’t stretch the entire width of the Jeep but instead sit centrally. Though this leaves the wheels and fenders exposed, it still offers significant protection for a Jeep.
Stubby bumpers offer many options for additional modifications. This makes them one of the easiest bumpers to modify for off-roading. If you want a lot of off-roading lights, a winch, and space for many other modifications, a stubby bumper is a great option.
Stubby bumpers aren’t as wide as factory width. This means that they don’t offer as much protection, but they aren’t as heavy either. Also, the “stubby” design is one of the reasons why this bumper has some of the best off-roading angles. It stays out of the way of the wheels, allowing them to flex however they’d like.
Stubby bumpers are some of our favorites. If you have a JL Wrangler check out our guide to the best stubby bumpers.
Even with its stock bumper, Wranglers come from the factory trail-ready for all your off-roading ambitions. Any of the above bumpers can be outfitted with off-roading lights, winches, or d-rings. But there are some bumpers that are specifically designed for their off-roading prowess.
Stinger bumpers are specifically for off-road use. These bumpers feature a metal tube in a triangle shape that points out from the grille.
As most rock crawlers know, one of the most dangerous types of accidents for Jeeps is the roof-rollover. A stinger helps by forcing the Jeep to roll onto one of its sides rather than the roof. Though this still sounds bad, you’re much more likely to walk away from an accident where your Jeep lands on its side than one where it lands on its roof.
Additionally, Jeep drivers have found a number of additional uses for stinger bumpers. These bumpers can help navigate off-road scenarios by improving off-road angles or be perfect for hanging a hammock on a pleasant day.
Depending on your state, a stinger bumper may violate bumper height regulations. While this may seem unnecessary, it’s actually an important rule. In the event of a collision, the stinger bumper may improve your odds of walking away, but it significantly decreases those odds for anyone else involved.
For this reason, stinger bumpers are best left to off-roading and should be removed prior to highway driving.
Many manufacturers have started producing Wrangler bumpers with less-pronounced stingers. These off-roading bumpers are a perfect compromise. While they offer many of the same benefits of a stinger, they’re safe for highway driving as well.
The triangle that comes out of these bumpers isn’t as pronounced as on traditional stingers. Other than that, they share most of the same features, and are great choices for off-roading bumpers.
Rock Crawler Bumpers
Rock crawler bumpers are available for both the front and the rear of your Jeep if you’re interested in a matching set. These bumpers are essentially a stubbier version of the stubby bumper. Despite protecting less surface area, they do an even better job of protecting the surfaces they cover.
In terms of other off-road gear, the rock crawling front bumpers tend to have plenty of places for off-road lights as well as winches. Almost all of these bumpers will be winch-capable. The rear bumpers don’t miss out on the opportunity for practicality either and provide tire-carrier add-ons.
Even if you’re not a hardcore rock crawler, many are drawn to this bumper design. It’s simple and practical, which looks right at home on any generation of Wrangler.
Wrangler Bumper Accessories
Many bumper options are deliberately simple but offer additional options for customization. Some of these options include grille guards, bull bars, and push bars. These bumper accessories offer another layer of protection, but primarily are used to further customize appearance.
No matter what your favored terrain, there’s a Wrangler bumper that will offer additional performance benefits. Combined with a few well-selected bumper accessories, you can completely change your Jeep’s look in an afternoon.
One of the reasons that bumper modifications are so popular is that they make a huge difference immediately and can install easily. Check out CJ’s full selection of front and rear Jeep Wrangler bumpers to find one that suits your needs.