Grand Cherokee Bumpers are made by dozens of different manufacturers, so how do you know who makes the best Grand Cherokee Bumpers? Let’s discuss some of the design cues that go into a good quality bumper, in order of my opinion of priority.
Grand Cherokee Front Bumpers –
Mounting Brackets – Grand Cherokee Bumpers are NOTORIOUS for having comparatively weak mounts. On a unibody vehicle (where the body is welded to the frame) like the Grand Cherokee, it’s imperative to have extremely strong mounts, which spread the load across a wide area. On a Ford Bronco or Chevy Pickup, you have a nice beefy channel-formed frame, formed from thick steel plate, which you can bolt a bumper flange mount to. On the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, the “frame” ends up being a 1/16″ thick piece of tempered steel. For a highway vehicle, this is more than sufficient. For an offroad vehicle, which is going to have opposing wheels in the air at the same time, you’re going to get a lot of flex. If you bolt a short, thick bumper mount to a thin, flexible “frame rail”, you’re going to start seeing stress-fractures show up where those mounts disallow the “frame” to flex any longer. (consider bending a wire coat hanger back and forth while your hands are spread a foot apart, versus bending a wire coat hanger back and forth when your fingers are only an inch apart)
Approach Angle – Grand Cherokee Front Bumpers really need to have a impressive approach angle, so that you don’t get hung up on obstacles. A quality design will have a sloped front end, like the front of a bass boat, to push your Grand Cherokee upwards and slide over the rocks. Anything less than a smooth, angled lower edge, will keep you from getting over tall logs, rock ledges, and other 2′-3′ high obstacles. A well-designed front bumper will also have a radiator skid plate either included, or optional. Putting a rock through the lower section of your radiator can quickly end a fun day if you notice a leak quickly, and could potentially cost you thousands of dollars if you DON’T realize what happened, and overheat the engine!
Winch Mounts – If you’re not building an extremely off-road capable Grand Cherokee, then spending the extra money on a winch doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, consider two things. One, you MAY someday WANT to purchase a winch, and if you don’t get a winch-capable bumper the first time, you’ll find yourself having to sell the bumper to purchase another one that DOES have this capability…and…Two, you want a bumper which is capable of HANDLING a winch. Non-winch bumpers are frequently made from materials of a far lesser strength. Having extremely strong mounts and triangulated bracing on a winch bumper is MANDATORY, whereas a manufacturer can get away with FAR less strong materials and mounts, if all they want to do is hang a piece of light steel off the front of your rig. Check the mounts on your factory plastic bumper, and you’ll see what I mean!
Grand Cherokee Rear Bumpers –
Departure Angle – Grand Cherokee Rear Bumpers need to have an equally impressive departure angle, so that you don’t come down off of a ledge or stack of rocks, and drag the center of the rear bumper, which can stop your forward progress, acting as a boat anchor, or, in extreme cases, can cause the bumper to be bent upward or rearward.
Recovery Points – Tow points are an absolute must, irrespective of the level of build you are doing on your Grand Cherokee. Some manufacturers make bumpers without them, which I don’t understand at all. In order for a bumper to pass the minimum requirements to be sold on our site, the availablity of recovery points are MANDATORY! What good is your sturdy bumper off road, if you have no way to use it to pull yourself off of an obstacle?? Recovery points can be pre-drilled tow hook holes, or integrated or welded clevis mounts. I prefer clevis mounts, because there is so much more material there, and because the clevis is threaded shut…rendering it impossible for a tow strap to “slip” off of it. Tow hooks have an open end, but some come with a goofy metal clip to retain the tow strap.
Tire Carriers – Grand Cherokee Tire Carriers fall under the same category of importance as the bumper mounts do…it has to be EXTREMELY strong, so that you’re not hearing constant noise from the tire carrier when you’re on a washboard road. The best designs include a cam-lock, rather than a threaded latch, or the easy-to-fly-open “utility latch” designs. Some manufacturers use something you’d fasten a side gate at your house with…not NEARLY up to the task of holding the tire carrier tightly as a good cam latch is. If you’ve ever heard a rattling spare tire carrier on a rough road, you KNOW that you don’t want to hear another one strapped to YOUR Jeep Grand Cherokee!
We offer only the best ZJ Grand Cherokee Bumpers and WJ Grand Cherokee Bumpers that exist on the market, in my opinion. If we knew of a stronger or beefier one, we’d sell it! For more information about the Front and Rear Bumpers we offer, check out our Grand Cherokee Bumper page.