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Ram 1500 Bumpers: Essential Guide

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A bumper is more than a piece of metal protecting your front end. Aftermarket bumpers are more like a Swiss army knife in that they can come with mounting points for winches and off-road lights.

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Installing aftermarket bumpers on your Dodge Ram is an important step in customizing your truck. Whether you’re headed to the woods, the nearest truck show, or just through an area where impact is inevitable, it’s important to make sure your truck is properly suited to do its job. There are different types of aftermarket bumpers on the market though. To help clear up the different types, let’s discuss some of the popular designs you’re likely to come across.

Heavy Duty Bumpers

The hot commodity right now is a heavy-duty bumper. They are thick pieces of steel bolted to the front of the Ram 1500, ready to bust through anything while keeping the truck scratch free. Heavy-duty bumpers weren’t always available, and for trucks that saw regular abuse, this was a problem. 

After the front bumper was destroyed, truck owners were left to either replace the factory bumper with original equipment or fabricate something of their own. In desperate times steel beams often made their home here. Not only were these solutions less than perfect, they were often eyesores. Aftermarket manufacturers stepped up and answered to the calling of the new generation of Ram owners.

These types of bumpers are made from heavy steel. The reason to make this upgrade is to handle heavy impact. Work trucks and off-road trucks that meet stumps, stones, concrete or other obstacles that can easily tear the factory bumper right apart are in desperate need of this upgrade. This upgrade should also be considered for Ram 1500 owners who live along the countryside where animals regularly dart in front of vehicles. It’s extremely common for deer to run in front of passing vehicles, not only harming themselves, but also destroying your truck.

These heavy-duty bumpers interfere with the installation of grille guards and push bars. In fact, the size would limit you from installing them at all. Since a heavy steel bumper doesn’t protect the front of the truck, some buyers may look for something else. In fact, blasting through sticks and stones leave the grille and headlights subject to impact, especially if the obstacle stands higher than the bumper itself.

Luckily there are heavy-duty bumpers that come with pre-runner bars and grille guards built right in. This is a fantastic reason to consider getting a heavy-duty bumper in the first place. In comparison to your average grille guard or bull bar, these designs are a lot more rugged giving much better protection for longer periods of time. 

Pros of Heavy-Duty Bumpers:

  • High-impact resistance 
  • Room for more accessories
  • Come in different styles to accommodate your needs

Cons:

  • Can be very heavy
  • High retail price
  • Larger profile

Off-Road Bumpers

Heavy-duty bumpers serve an excellent purpose both on and off road. They will be found on many off-road applications. But, as stated, they do have some limitations. Big steel bumpers are heavy and added weight can be an issue for some off-roaders. They also add a larger profile to the vehicle, which can be a problem. Not to mention, they are primarily available to 2009 and later Ram trucks.

Just because they can deal heavy blows doesn’t mean the driver and or passengers want to regularly deal with the impact of busting stumps. These blows are hard on drivers and mechanical componentry, and the more they can be avoided the better. This is where off-road style bumpers would be ideal.

Most bumpers designed for use off road are very much so the opposite of a heavy-duty bumper. They are built with minimal materials as the idea is to gain clearance. These designs are usually tubular as opposed to heavy gauged steel and have a skid plate to allow obstacles to skid right along underneath. They don’t offer as much protection but do come with pre-runner bars to help protect at least some of the truck. 

Pros of Off-Road Bumpers

  • Low Profile
  • High impact resistance
  • Room for aftermarket lighting

Cons:

  • Radical in style, can stick out on the street
  • Less room for accessories in comparison to heavy duty bumpers

 

Rear Bumpers

This whole time we’ve addressed only front bumpers and neglected to address the rear. Rear bumpers have many of their own obstacles and upgrading to an aftermarket bumper here is just as important as the front. Heavy-duty bumpers are offered for the rear to help deal with heavy impact that work trucks are likely to see. 

Rams driven off-road could also use the heavy-duty rear bumper, but they may want to consider something with a lower profile. If the truck will spend some time climbing steep obstacles picking something like a roll pan is not a bad idea. For aesthetic purposes it’s always nice to match the front to the rear—a large, heavy bumper will stick out on an otherwise stock truck. 

Construction and Fitment

People who are on the fence may have some concerns when it comes to modifying the bumper. Some likely concerns are how they mount, what this modification means for sensors, and the materials these bumpers are built from. Here are some insights.

Fitment: Aftermarket bumpers seem worlds apart from factory bumpers in appearance. Instead of plastics with chrome accents, they are a solid piece constructed from strong materials to endure impact. That’s all there is when it comes to structural separations. The bumpers use factory mounting points meaning that added safety is as easily attainable as possible.​

Factory sensors: Heavy-duty bumpers are primarily available for newer Ram trucks, and the newer Rams have parking and proximity sensors built into the OE bumpers. The good news is heavy-duty bumpers are typically designed to accept these sensors meaning you won’t have to take any hits when popping one on. Construction: When sorting through your options, you’re going to come across different materials used for aftermarket bumpers. It’s important to note any structural componentry will be made from steel construction. You can rest easy knowing this design feature will help the bumper endure as many blows as you can throw at it. You will also come across some off-road bumpers that are paired with aluminum skid plates. Aluminum can be used here as these pieces aren’t designed to take any hits. The added benefit of the aluminum is weight savings as aluminum is much lighter than steel.​

Installation: Installation of an aftermarket bumper can be a bit of a task. An off-road bumper is on the lighter side, and you may be able to handle it yourself. Though, it’s still recommended you have a buddy help you as they are still large and can be fairly awkward to handle. Heavy-duty bumpers will definitely require you to call on a helping hand. Otherwise, they mount right in place of the factory bumpers and will require no modifications to be made to anything structural on the truck; for the most part. In the case the frame needs to be modified, it’s best to sit back and let a professional do the work. 

Ram 1500 Bumper Accessories

Aftermarket bumpers are something off Swiss army knives in the manner that they don’t just offer added protection. Depending on the model, you can end up with all different options to work with. This holds particularly true with heavy-duty bumpers. These models can come pretty well bare or they can come dressed with areas to mount aftermarket lighting, tow hooks, and possibly even winches.

The lighting isn’t limited to just small cube lights either; they can come ready to mount full sized light bars if so desired. Off-road counterparts are a little more bare bones, but can come ready to mount smaller light bars and cube lights. it is worth mentioning if you didn’t pick up a bumper with a winch mount you’re not out of luck.

Some manufacturers offer receiver plates to adapt the bumper to a receiver style winch mount. If you’re spending a lot of time on the dusty trail a winch is your best friend and it’s good to know that this option is available.

Fitment includes: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-10, SLT, ST, Laramie, Sport, SXT, TRX, TRX4, RT, LaramieLonghorn, Tradesman, Express, HFE, Rebel, Longhorn, LoneStar, Outdoorsman, Limited, BigHorn