A vehicle off the showroom floor may appear to have everything you could dream of, but with some simple add-ons, it can be taken to a whole new level. Accessories are not just for looks anymore, as they can help the vehicle off-road.
For this 2016 Ford F-150, it was time to turn to Body Armor 4×4 to see what we could do to spice the truck up after its recent leveling kit and tires. To add to the style and function of the truck, we would be adding new front and rear bumpers with plenty of LED lights.
Behind The Metal
We were able to talk with Jeff Neubauer of Body Armor 4×4 to find out more about the bumpers we would be putting on the F-150. The first thing that we noticed about the bumpers was the way they were constructed. “The bumper is made of 4mm thick steel plate,” Neubauer explained. “They are available for Jeeps and trucks.”
Just because it is an off-road rig does not mean that it does not need to look good. “The idea for the bumpers came as a way to enhance the style of the vehicle with an aggressive style bumper that does not overpower the front of the vehicle,” Neubauer said. “Many light truck consumers are looking for replacement bumpers for their truck, but they don’t want an over-the-top winch bumper because they are never going to use a winch. We eliminated the winch and now the bumper fits nice and tight to the vehicle. Also, with the popularity of the LED cube lights and light bars, we have included mounting points for both.”
“We have taken airflow of the EcoBoost into consideration,” Neubauer continued. “We have done this on all of our bumpers for the EcoBoost F-150. On the 2009-2014 Eco-Series bumper, there is a large intake in the center of the bumper. On the 2015 F-150 Eco-Series bumper we have a similar center intake, but we have added two additional removable panels for more airflow. Because of this, the Eco-Series F-150 bumper was designed not to have a winch. Otherwise, we would have had to push the bumper way out to the front of the vehicle or relocate the intercooler.”
Looks are great, but adding off-road performance is always a plus with any modification. “The Eco-Series bumpers offer durability and additional protection off-road,” Neubauer said. “OEM truck and Jeep bumpers have been reduced to a cosmetic cover, not the protection we found on truck bumpers in the ’70s.” Bumpers can also help with the approach and departure angles of the vehicle.
“Both the Eco-Series and Desert Series have the built-in mounting points for LED lights,” Neubauer explained. “It gets really dark on the trail at night and the additional lighting will light up the trail making it easier to get home.”
Speaking of lighting, the bumpers were installed with Body Armor 4×4’s own brand of LED lights. “Our cubes feature two beam patterns: fog or spot,” Neubauer said. “The center light bar is our 20-inch, dual-row LED with fog and spot combination optics. Our lights maximize output by being beamed to a high-polished reflector, and then amplified through our large optical lens. This combination of lighting technology allows us to generate a well-focused beam for maximum functional use.”
Install And Testing
There are no fancy tools or secret tricks for this install; if you can remove the factory bumpers, you can put on the replacement bumpers. The instructions included in the kit were straightforward and guided us through the install.
The rear bumper sensors would be reused, but the front factory fog lights would not. Retaining the sensors would keep a dummy light from coming on, while still letting us know when we were too close to an object.
One of the steps that was required with the front bumper off was to remove the factory side frame horns. With Ford’s “bright” thinking, they installed the bolts the wrong way; the factory nut should have been welded onto the top of the frame to allow the bolt to drop out the bottom. Instead, the bolts would need to be lifted up and cut off. We bounced between a Sawzall and a cut-off wheel for this part.
Other than the hiccup on the frame horn, we had no issue installing the bumpers. One thing to note is if you have Ford’s receiver incorporated into the rear bumper, you will lose it. However, the bumpers will work with Ford’s Max Trailer package and most aftermarket receivers.
“I absolutely love them,” Matt Gallaher, owner of the F-150, said. “The bumpers look very clean and not overdone. Everywhere I go, people are asking what bumpers they are. The lights are super bright as well.”
Matt has plans to upgrade the factory intercooler, but for right now, he is loving the effect the bumpers had on the transformation of the truck. “The engine temperatures were running slightly warmer, but that’s nothing to be concerned about,” Matt said.
Companies like Body Armor 4×4 are taking the changes from the manufacturers in stride and making improvements around the factory equipment. For more information and to see a full line of products, be sure to check out Body Armor 4×4’s website.