Are you looking to install a nudge bar on your vehicle? Do you know if the nudge bar you have in mind is compatible with the airbag of your vehicle? Please read below for some important information.
Nudge bars and bullbars are controversial in the world of motoring. Those who live out in the bush swear that they are an important safety aid.
Those who live in cities, however, note that bullbars can make crashes worse in some ways because they turn those off-road vehicles into mobile ‘weapons’.
Now, there is a new concern. According to some safety experts, adding nudge-bars to some four-wheel-drive vehicles could interfere with the deployment of the airbags.
How do Airbags Work?
Airbags rely on an accelerometer for their deployment. The accelerometer senses the inertia of the vehicle. In some cars, the sensor is mounted behind the front bumper, but in others, it is located elsewhere, such as behind a radiator or headlamp.
The position of the sensor is carefully calculated to ensure it will trigger when needed but without the risk of a false alarm.
The sensor uses a ball/cam, which moves freely during normal driving but will not complete a circuit and cause the airbag to deploy. When the vehicle stops suddenly, the circuit is triggered.
How Can Nudge Bars Stop Airbags Working?
If you add a nudge bar or bullbar to the front of the vehicle, then this can cause problems. Bullbars, in particular, can change the dynamics of a collision. Steel bumpers are designed to be strong and solid, rather than to crumple.
The airbags that are fitted to a car are designed to work with that specific car and have sensors configured based on the designer’s knowledge of the crumple zones in that car.
Change those crumple zones by adding a more robust bumper, and the design of the airbag sensors will need to be changed as well.
Are All Nudge Bars Incompatible With Airbags?
While nudge bars can be a problem, that doesn’t mean they always are. It just means that you will have to do your homework before you get nudge bars fitted to a vehicle. Toyota, for example, approves certain types of bullbar for addition to their vehicles.
In addition, there are some nudge bar manufacturers that certify their bumpers and have designed them in a way that will not affect the deployment of airbags.
Bruce Priddle, a safety engineering manager at Ford, notes that it is possible to design bullbars that are compatible with airbag systems, however, it is costly to do so because it would require a large number of crash tests.
Nudge bar manufacturer ARB says that they conduct crash testing and computer modelling to ensure that their bull bars are safe.
While they have not tested every vehicle, they use a combination of computer models and selective crash testing on specific vehicles such as the LandCruiser 100 Series. The real-world tests that they have performed back up what their computer models are telling them.
Choosing a Nudge Bar
Nudge bars are slightly different from bull bars because they sit just forward from the bumper, instead of protruding further. This means that they are less likely to have a major impact on how a car behaves in the event of a collision.
However, you should still take care to find a nudge bar that is certified as being compatible with the airbags in your vehicle.
If you are planning on heading into the outback, then you should look for a vehicle that was designed with a full bullbar in mind, or that comes with one as standard.
Nudge bars may not be enough for the outback, and it is much harder to be confident that an aftermarket bullbar will be a safe addition to your vehicle. When it comes to offroad driving, you should always put safety first.
If you are looking for bullbars and nudge bars, or a canopy for your vehicle then look no further than us at Hektik Automotive Group. We specialise in the supply and installation of a wide variety of automotive accessories, audio-visual and security systems.