Do you drive at night pretty often? If so, you might be looking into grille guards as a way to protect your car in the event of a wildlife-related accident. Grille guards cost hundreds of dollars, so it’s wise to be sure that it’s the best option for you before buying one. That’s what this guide is for. We’ll go over the pros and cons of having a grille guard on your car.
What is a Grille Guard?
A grille guard is an aluminum alloy or steel part that’s attached to the frame in front of your vehicle. The shape and design of a grille guard enables it to protect the grille.
Ford Explorer with grille guard. Photo source: Alex Smith
How is a Grille Guard Different From a Brush Guard?
A lot of people use the term “grille guard” interchangeably with “brush guard”. Technically, a grille guard is not the same thing as a brush guard. The idea behind both parts is the same, but they’re designed differently. A grille guard is smaller than a brush guard, as it only protects the grille. A brush guard protects the headlights.
Even though the grille guard is designed to protect the grille, is it really the best way to protect your car from wildlife on the road? Read on to find out.
The Pros of Having a Grille Guard on Your Vehicle
A grille guard lessens the impact on the grille in a crash, whether it's with an animal, another car, or something else. By being placed in front of the grille, a grille guard also protects the radiator. Some people install a grille guard on their car just because it "beefs up" the car's appearance.
The Cons of Having a Grille Guard on Your Vehicle
A grille guard is a great concept and it makes a car look good, but it's not a perfect solution. After a grille guard does its job in protecting your car in a crash, you may have to fork over a lot of money for repairs. A grille guard is attached to the frame (or the bumper mounts on a unibody vehicle). The mounting location takes some of the impact in a crash. So the mounting location will also need to be repaired. If a frame gets bent badly enough, it can cost thousands of dollars to repair it.
A Safer Alternative to Grille Guards
As great as grille guards are, they’re not exactly an ideal way to protect your car in a wildlife-related accident. A grille guard doesn't help you prevent accidents, but rather provides some protection after your car hits something. What you need is a solution that helps you spot and avoid wildlife on the road. You want something that will help you detect wildlife at a distance that gives you enough time to prepare ahead of time.
Here are three types of solutions that can help you do this:
- High beam headlights
- Night vision cameras
- Thermal imaging systems
High beam headlights aren't ideal. With high beams, you can only see up to about 400 feet ahead of you. That's about 1/14 of a mile. If you're driving at 60 miles per hour, you have a good chance of hitting the animal before even noticing it with your high beam headlights on.
Night vision cameras provide a longer vision range, but they're not that reliable. A night vision camera is a light amplifier, meaning some light needs to shine on the animal in order for your night vision camera to detect it. Also, night vision cameras don't work that well when it's not clear outside.
Thermal imaging systems are the best solution for preventing wildlife-related collisions at night. A thermal imaging camera picks up the animal's body heat up to 1300 feet (1/4 mile) ahead of your vehicle. This happens regardless of the amount of light available outside. That means your thermal imaging camera will show any wildlife waiting up ahead, even animals hidden behind bushes. NightRide is a reliable brand for thermal imaging cameras. Read more about NightRide thermal imaging cameras here!