Protecting your Hilux should be a top priority if you’re taking it for a ride off the beaten trail. Australia’s outback is a hostile environment, and the last thing you need is to get stranded in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight.
To prevent damage, any seasoned off-roader will tell you that getting the right 4×4 accessories for sale is the way to go. You probably know about bull bars, as they’re one of the most popular accessories for 4x4s, but have you considered Hilux side steps and rear bars? These accessories can be just as valuable as bull bars in terms of protection, and even more so in terms of convenience.
Most 4x4s, including the Hilux come with some type of plastic rear and side bumps that can’t withstand bumps, so when they collide with tough objects like rocks and trees, they can be easily squashed. Moreover, they’re kind of quirky to step on, especially if you’re a bit heavier.
On the other hand, the many aftermarket Hilux side steps and rear bars are typically made of tough metals like steel. This means they’re much more durable against impact, and provide a firm ground to step on, serving as an extra step to get in and out of your passenger cabin, as well as your truck bed. But before you set out to look for these 4×4 accessories for sale, there are a few important factors to consider in both.
Why Consider Side Steps?
Side steps serve as a practical extra step to get and out of your Hilux. They also protect your vehicle’s door panels from damage when off the beaten trail. What many people don’t even consider is that they can provide protection when parking in crowded lots.
But how? Since they stick out from the side of your Hilux, if someone parks next to you and opens their door without paying too much attention, they’ll prevent their door from slamming into the side of your Hilux.
How to Choose?
Side steps are typically made of aluminium or steel. Both materials come with advantages and disadvantages, and you should make your choice based on your needs.
Aluminium Side Steps
These side steps are light in weight, yet are still strong enough to stand on. Some models typically come with a plastic outer shell to improve their look. Usually, they’re attached to the vehicle using two thin pressed brackets. Aluminium side steps are very practical steps, but they don’t offer too much side protection. Moreover, you can’t use a high-lift jack on them.
Steel Side Steps
Steel steps are typically the go-to option for those who want the utmost side protection of their vehicle. They typically come in a single-tube design, plus an alloy checkered plate on the top. They’re installed onto your vehicle chassis using two steel brackets and will provide a firm surface to step on. You’ll want to get heavy-duty side steps, otherwise, they won’t consistently support the vehicle’s weight over time.
Why Consider Rear Bars?
Rear bars serve a similar purpose to bull bars, except they provide protection at the rear of your Hilux instead. There are many reasons why people install rear bars, but the main ones are:
Higher Ground Clearance and Departure Angle
Driving over objects that are taller than your vehicle can result in a ton of damage. You can destroy your bumper and dent the rear panels, which is difficult if not impossible to fix when in the middle of nowhere. With a rear bar, you remove plastic stock bumpers, increasing your clearance at the rear. This will provide a better departure angle which will reduce potential damage.
Protect Rear Quarter Panels
Since rear bars are made of durable materials like stainless steel, they can absorb most of the force during an impact, leaving the body of your Hilux unscathed. As a result, you can save money down the line by avoiding costly repairs.
Improved Load Distribution When Towing
Tow bars are sometimes not enough to distribute the weight of your vehicle and trailer properly. Rear bars help greatly in this regard, as they compensate for the lower weight of your vehicle, making towing easier.
Use as Mounting Platform for Accessories
Just like bullbars, some rear bars allow you to mount accessories on them. You can attach swing tyre carriers and holders for jerry cans, high-lift jacks, shovels, lights and tables.
These reasons alone should be enough to look for these 4×4 accessories for sale. But once you start looking, how do you know which one to choose? Well, there are a few important pointers to consider.
How to Choose?
The first and most important thing to consider is whether the rear bar is Australian certified. All rear bars made by Australian manufacturers are certified, so avoid buying cheap models from overseas just to save a few bucks.
If you want to save on money and want to get a strong, yet functional rear bar, you should consider one that covers about 15 cm at most. It will allow you to step into your vehicle’s bed, but won’t offer enough protection when venturing off-road. Moreover, it won’t offer quarter panel protection and will lack side support.
That being said, if optimum protection is your goal, go for a bar that extends the entire way, and slightly protrudes. That way, even if you get into a rut, the bar will take the hit rather than your panels.
Last but not least, consider whether the rear step can serve as a mounting point for extra accessories. Most people want their rear bar to be able to serve as a base for at least one swing tyre carrier. Hardcore off-roaders, however, want two, as they’ll be travelling to remote areas where chances of a flat tyre are higher than usual.
Other people want to install jerry can holders to hold water or extra fuel when going on longer journeys. Unfortunately, storing fuel in jerry cans is illegal in Australia, so you’ll only be able to use them to store water.
Besides these common accessories, you can install work lights, high-lift jacks and shovels to help work on your vehicle in case you need to perform some repairs.