If you're planning to go on an off-road trip, the first thing you should do is ensure that your vehicle's up for the job. You should see to it that the engine's running properly, that the brakes are functional, and that the fuel tank holds sufficient fuel. And if you want to enjoy an extra measure of safety, you could equip your vehicle with a light bar. A light bar is definitely a good investment. Luckily, you can purchase this product right here at Carparts.
• Constructed from durable aluminum or steel for maximum lighting support
• Can be mounted to different areas on your vehicle's exterior
• Can improve your vehicle's rugged looks
Light Bar Buyer’s Guide
- The brightness of factory-installed lights on a vehicle is governed and limited by federal and state laws, but this brightness might not be enough for some activities such as backroad and offroad driving.
- While auxiliary car lights can be mounted directly on a vehicle, a light bar provides a mounting system that can better hold the auxiliary lights.
- Because of the advantages offered by LEDs over other types of lighting elements, these have been incorporated into light bars.
- Light bars can be made from automotive metals or plastics, and its finish can improve its appearance and durability.
- In addition to the design and its fit for your vehicle, some other things to consider when buying a light bar include its intended use, mounting location, and size. Most importantly, check if light bars are street legal in your state.
- The prices of light bars can range from around $82 to $250.
Visibility is an important aspect of road safety—drivers need to clearly see pedestrians, other vehicles, and road hazards to avoid collisions and accidents. Ample lighting is needed for good visibility. During the day, the sun provides the necessary illumination, but things are different at night. With this in mind, manufacturers equip vehicles with various lighting systems, such as headlights and brake lights, to enable driving during low-light conditions and at night.
The brightness of factory-installed lights on a vehicle is governed and limited by federal and state laws. However, this brightness might not be enough for some activities such as backroad and offroad driving in the backcountry where there are no street lights. The illumination needed for these adventures can be provided by auxiliary lights. These additional lights can be installed on a vehicle with the help of a light bar.
What Is a Light Bar?
A light bar is an accessory that provides a mounting system that can better hold the auxiliary lights. While auxiliary car lights can be mounted directly on a vehicle, the car panel, on its own, might not be able to properly support these. This mounting system can be installed on almost any part of the vehicle’s exterior and could also include a lighting system depending on the design.
LED Light Bar
Many modern vehicles nowadays use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for their lighting systems. LED lights are preferred for their low energy consumption, long service life, compact size, and durability.
Before LED, halogen bulbs were the most common illuminating element in automotive lighting. This type of bulb relied on a wire filament that needs heat to emit light and halogen gas to glow brighter, hence the name.
Another type of lighting system used in cars is the high-intensity discharge (HID) light. Similar to halogen bulbs, HID lights also use a gaseous element—this time xenon—which also lends its name to the bulb. But unlike halogen bulbs, HID lights use an electric charge to ignite the gas.
As for LED, it uses semiconductors that move electrons to produce light. With its process for emitting light, LEDs don’t produce heat like halogen and HID bulbs do.
Because of the advantages offered by LEDs over other types of lighting elements, these have been incorporated into light bars. Since the lighting system is already included, LED light bars allow easy installation of auxiliary lighting. These also offer more personalization options since LEDs can be made to change colors.
Light Bar Material and Finish
Due to its purpose and mounting location, light bars need to be constructed from materials that could withstand the weather and the elements, as well as support the weight of the lights it will hold. Its finish, while providing more style options, should also help make the hardware last longer.
For light bars to have a firm structure, it should be made from metals or plastics. Listed below are some materials used in the construction of light bars.
- Steel and stainless steel
As an iron alloy with a small percentage of carbon, steel has a high strength-to-weight ratio. In addition to being strong, steel is also durable and flexible. Adding chromium to steel produces stainless steel, which is oxidation and corrosion-resistant.
While aluminum has the same strength-to-weight ratio as steel, it is also a lightweight metal. What’s more, this metal does not rust, making it a good material for light bars.
Due to the malleable property of plastic, it can be found in a wide range of applications such as in the production of automotive parts. Plastic can be made to be rigid and sturdy while remaining light in weight.
The finish of a light bar not only gives it a unique appearance but also helps improve its weather resistance. The following is a list of some types of light bar finishes.
- Powder Coat
Compared to regular paint, powder coating results in a hard and tough finish. Powder-coated metals are less likely to rust.
Also known as an undercoat, a primer makes the material it is applied to easier to paint. Using a primer also improves the durability of the paint, making it last longer.
Polishing is a type of finish where a material’s surface is reshaped or parts of it are removed to reduce roughness. Since nothing is added to the surface of the material, there will be no peeling or cracking.
Which Light Bar to Buy
Taking note of your vehicle’s make, model, and year would help you find a light bar that would fit perfectly. In addition to the design, some other considerations include the intended use, mounting location, and size.
Auxiliary Light Use
For offroading and other similar activities, the light bar should ideally be rugged and vibration-resistant. If you plan on getting additional lighting for your work truck, opt for a light bar that can accommodate the number and kind of lights you need. As for light bars with built-in lights, check for the lumens or brightness of the bulbs.
The areas where lights bars can be mounted include the front bumper, the roof, and the windshield frame. Your purpose for the auxiliary lights and the number required should influence the light bar type and where it will be mounted. The location could affect where the light beam hits as well as how many lights it could support.
A small and simple light bar will have less of an effect on the vehicle’s aerodynamics, but can’t hold that many lights. Bigger light bars can have larger lamps or more lights. Once you have determined the type and number of auxiliary lights you’ll be using, you can choose the light bar size that will meet your needs.
In getting a light bar, the most important thing to check for is if light bars are street legal in your state. Since there are regulations regarding the brightness of vehicle lights, a light bar that does not have built-in lighting elements might be allowed. Meanwhile, light bars that include illumination systems, like LED light bars, might be prohibited.
CarParts.com offers a wide variety of light bars including light bars for trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The prices of light bars can range from around $82 to $250.
Light Bar Purchase: How to Come Up With an Informed Decision
For vehicle owners who love to drive off the beaten track, especially at night, or those who simply want to improve their driving visibility while enhancing the looks of their ride, a light bar proves to be a very practical addition. With this, you can outfit your ride with auxiliary lights, such as LED lights, to increase your visibility during nighttime driving or when the weather is harsh. With its many different types and style, there sure is one that will make your ride stand out and will offer the best value for your bucks.
Types of light bar according to materials
Lights bars come in many different types. They are usually categorized according to the materials from which they are made of, such as:
Light bars made up of steel are durable and ensure high strength-to-weight ratio. So even if the lights you'll fit in are a bit weighty, steel light bars will be able to hold them in place.
Stainless steel light bars are preferred by many because they don't rust, are lightweight, and they ensure sleek finish, making your truck look more eye-catching.
A very light metal, aluminum is the perfect light bar material for those who don't want to add extra weight to their ride along with their light bar installation. Aluminum light bars also ensure high corrosion resistance and low melting point.
Plastic light bars ensure good shock absorption capacity, electrical insulating property, corrosion resistance, and excellent finish. But unlike metals, the plastic's ductility and resistance to heat is very low.
Other factors to consider
Color/Finish. Light bars come in a wide range of finishes, such as high-gloss black powdercoat, polished, black, chrome, textured matte, and primered. If you're getting a steel light bar, make sure it's powdercoated so that it won't rust. A polished finish, on the other hand, won't crack, rust or peel, and necessitates very little maintenance. For a more customized appearance, choose a finish that complements your ride's paint and the accessories you've used in customizing your truck.
Mounting location. It should be a main consideration when buying a light bar. Roof-mounted light bars can accommodate more and bigger lights while front-mounted units are designed in such a way that they don't overpower the vehicle's front-end components.
Secure mounting system. This is important for the front-and roof-mounted light bars. They should come with a reliable mounting system, so your auxiliary lights won't fall off when the vehicle goes through the harshest terrains.
Ease of installation and removal. If you don't want to drill holes in your ride, go for light bars that ensure easy, bolt-on installation. Other units are held in place by snapper pins positioned on each leg, while some require drilling.
Other factors that must be taken into consideration when purchasing a light bar are vibration resistance when installed, number of lights that can be accommodated by the bar, and manufacturer warranty.
How to Remove an ABS Plastic Light Bar from Your Truck's Roof
No matter what your reasons are for purchasing a light bar, it is important that you install it properly to maximize its functions. With a well-installed light bar, you can take full advantage of your auxiliary lights without fear that they may fall off whenever you're traversing a cruel, uneven terrain. If you have an existing ABS plastic light bar in your ride and it seems like it has already seen better days, or you simply want to keep it for future use, here are the steps in detaching it from your roof:
Difficulty level: Easy
What you'll need:
- Phillips screw driver
- Socket wrench
Step 1: Find the four screws holding the ABS cover on the light bar. You'll find them along the back edge of the bar, screwed into the light bar reinforcement on the roof.
Step 2: With a Phillips screwdriver, loosen and remove the four retaining screws. Be careful not to lose them so you can reuse them later if you want to reinstall the light bar cover.
Step 3: Raise the rear edge of the light bar cover and slide it forward, far enough to detach the front end from the light bar reinforcement. Lift the cover and set it aside.
Step 4: On the left side of the bar between the first and second lights, look for the jumper harness that's connected to the wiring harness. Carefully unplug the electrical connector so as not to break the retaining clip.
Step 5: Using a socket and ratchet, unbolt and take off the four mounting nuts on the inside of the light bar reinforcement. Slowly detach the light bar away from the roof to avoid damaging the paint while carefully feeding the jumper harness out via the hole in the reinforcement.
With these steps, you'll be able to take the light bar off the roof without scratching the paint and denting the roof itself. This task can be done in less than an hour.