ARB Bull Bar Installation on Jeep YJ Wrangler

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One important aspect of any outdoor adventure is the ability to make it home safely. Animal strikes are one of the leading causes of vehicle damage when traveling in rural and remote areas, especially at night. As anybody who travels the highways knows, here in the Pacific Northwest, we have our share of animal strikes. The most common you see along the side of the road are deer. I have also seen collisions with elk, cattle and horses. Our friends to the North in British Columbia frequently witness collisions with moose.

In a full head-on animal strike, at a minimum, you will most likely damage your radiator, which can totally incapacitate your vehicle. Hopefully, the collision will be a glancing blow, minimizing the damage. I’ve seen pickup trucks where a 60 mph collision with a deer caused damage to the entire front end including the bumper, grill, radiator, core support, hood and both front fenders. The loss of your vehicle far from home is the last thing a person wants on an adventure.

After during my research, I found that by most opinions, ARB makes the best aftermarket bumper that protects against animal strikes. Most bumpers are for clearance for wheeling and do not offer substantial protection. The ARB Bull Bar offers a very secure location to mount a winch plus it also enhances the look of any vehicle (my opinion of course). And of course, any bumper that protects against animal strikes is going to offer a great increase in safety if involved in a collision with another vehicle.

The following outlines the installation of an ARB Bull Bar on my Jeep YJ Wrangler.

DSC02919.JPG Here is the before picture. A stock chrome bumper with minimal protection to the front end.
DSC02922.JPG This is how the bull bar comes when shipped. Two pieces include the bar and the assembly kit.
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Removed all shipping packaging.
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This is the business side of the bull bar.
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Looked over the installation instructions.
DSC02931.JPG Inventoried the assembly kit.
DSC02932.JPG Removed the front bumper. I had to use a little PB Blaster to loosen up the bolts. The bolts required a T-55 bit instead of the T-50 as listed on the instructions.
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Installed the cradle assembly to the chassis.
DSC02937.JPG Lowered the winch plate over the front cross member. Secured the plate to the cross member with the supplied u-bolts. Used a small level to match the level of the cradle assembly. Adjusted with a block of wood and hammer before final tightening.
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Using the holes in the cradle assembly tab as a template, I center punched the location of the hole on each side. I then removed the winch plate and drilled the required 7/16 inch holes. I then remounted the winch plate and fastened it to the cradle assembly with the supplied fasteners.
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Slide the bull bar over the cradle assembly. Secure with provided fasteners. If you are installing a roller fairlead, you would install it during this step. Two of the bolts are not in the most accessible location.
DSC02946.JPG The bumper comes with supplemental indicator lights. The lights are mounted using small nylon plugs that are a very tight fit. I had to use a mallet to fit into place. Be careful and do not overtighten the mounting screws like I did. The lense will crack if over tightened.
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Remove the factory indicator lights.

For the right turn indicator, locate the brown/red wire (right turn signal) and the black wire (ground wire). Wire the bull bar indicator using the included wire spices.

For the left turn indicator, locate the gray/black wire (turn signal) and the black wire (ground). My Jeep had two gray/black wires leading into the left turn indicator harness. Use a wire tester to determine the correct wire to use. I got lucky on my first try.

I secured the extra indicator light harness with zip ties and placed the excess in the front cross member tube.

Note: The wiring diagram I used was from a 1992 Jeep Factory Service Manual. The colors and/or the harness may be different on other years.

DSC02950.JPG Here is the finished installation. The kit comes with a license plate bracket to install the plate above the roller fairlead. I chose to install my license plate over the fairlead cut out. Looks pretty good.

The installation was straight forward and can be completed in only a few hours with basic mechanical skills. As usual, you will need a few more tools than the instructions call for.

Of course, such a bumper will add more weight to the front of your vehicle, so a heavier spring rate may be required for your vehicle.

Now all I need to do is mount a winch and I’ll be ready for even more adventures.