By on May 23, 2019

best bumper guards

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It’s not your driving habits or parking skills that are in question here — it’s the other guy’s capabilities (or lack thereof) from which we need to guard ourselves. The cynical amongst us will say these types of bumper guards also fortify your own bumper to inflict maximum damage on others. Verticalscope’s bedwetting lawyers are reminding me not endorse that activity.

We’ve not limited ourselves to a single make or model in this post when selecting contenders for this list, so please be certain your bumper guard of choice fits your vehicle before ordering. Most of the ones shown here are of the “universal” variety. However, a lifetime of installing (and then removing and re-installing) vehicle accessories has taught your author that “universal fit” doesn’t always mean exactly what you think it does.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a garage, or even off street parking, so there is a measure of usefulness to these items. In fact, there must be a fairly big market for this type of car protection if the array of available options is any indication. Your author used to be proponent of the phrase “bumpers are for bumping,” but today’s styling decisions often render that belief more obsolete than a Commodore 64. Note well: the non-adhesive versions of these things should only be deployed when the car is parked.

And don’t worry, in addition to the best bumper guards, we’ll have a list of off-road bumper guards coming up soon.

(Editor’s note: As noted above, this post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)


Best Bumper Guards

1. Editor’s Pick: Gold Edition Bumper Bully Extremebumper bully extreme gold edition

If forced to slap one of these things on my car, this is the one I’d choose. Solid and durable, this bumper guard measures as one of the largest on this list at an expansive 46” x 12”. The straps from which it hangs are reinforced with steel, meaning that nefarious ne’er-do-wells will need more than a stout knife to swipe this thing.

High intensity reflectors make the thing stand out and remove any “I didn’t see your car!” protests from the offending motorist, an exclamations which was likely a fib anyway. They also make the thing look like an industrial tool from Fallout 4. A couple of stabilizer bars keep this thing on the straight and level.

This is our pick from a lineup of the best bumper guards.

Pros: steel reinforced straps, large size

Cons: brand logo placement is most unfortunate

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2. Most Aggro: BumperBadger HD Editionbumperbadger hd edition

Sometimes, simply scaring your fellow motorist into submission is enough to keep them from inflicting wanton destruction on your car with their bumper during parking maneuvers. This black and red bumper guard from BumperBadger (snicker) stands like a tombstone and looks ready to absorb the most careless of parking taps.

Features on this bad boy include raised ribbing that extends from the surface to provide a flexible impact zone to cushion minor parking bumps. A set of top stabilizer bars keep the guard flat and stable for maximum protection. Those trunk straps are triple-stitched if not steel threaded and its extra wide surface covers lot of the bumper.

Pros: aggro appearance, ribbed for your pleasure

Cons: all the style of a frying pan

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3. Affordable Option: T-Rex Bumper Protector for Carst-rex bumper protector

If your car is not yet a beat-up hooptie but is also not worth enough to worry about sticking things on the exterior of it, then this may be a solution for you. Made of quarter-inch thick material, it is essentially one enormous bumper sticker. Attached with the magic of 3M double-sided tape, the T-Rex curves around to the side of your car, one of the only guards on this list capable of that party trick.

It’s only about four inches high but should do the trick if someone nudges your car with their own bumper. The offender will likely make contact with the guard instead of the bumper. It alleges to “keep the elegant look of your car” but I’m not too sure about that. In the days of full length body cladding (RIP, Pontiac), maybe. For those simply looking for a quick hit against quick hits, this will likely work just fine.

Pros: many leagues cheaper than a new bumper cover

Cons: only ¼ inch thick, held on with adhesive

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4. BumperX Bumper Protection & Guardbumperx bumper protection and guard

Here’s another from the “peel and stick” files. This guard adheres to your car’s bumper just like the one listed above. This time, the protector is six inches high. Spanning 62 inches wide, it does not cover the corners. Its seller advises that this is not recommended for cars without a perfectly flat bumper and, alarmingly, should not be purchased by anyone who’s not a “DIY type”. Okay, then. It’s a sticker. How hard can it be?

Not hard, surely, as trimming can be accomplished with a simple set of scissors. Interestingly, its creators say this guard was modeled to fit a 1997-2015 Prius, explaining the whole ‘flat bumper’ thing. It adheres to the car with 3M adhesive designed to stick to paint or metal. In a fit of creative marketing, the seller notes that Uber/Lyft drivers can use this to spruce up their car if they already have a beat-up bumper.

Pros: great if you have an old Prius, allegedly sticks like glue, resistant to bad weather

Cons: only the thickness of a quarter

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5. BumperSafe – Bumper Protector for Carsbumpersafe bumper protector

This decidedly unattractive option is made from foam covered in all-weather material, explaining its odd protuberance. Fully adjustable straps which not only go into the trunk but also hooking onto the bumper’s leading edge by the wheelwell are the epitome of function over form.

It measures a good six feet wide, meaning it should span pretty much the width of any car. It is also nearly ten inches tall, providing good bash protection vertically as well as horizontally. There are a few safety reflectors to make the thing stand out on a black car and the material from which it is made is alleged not to burnish the car’s paint.

Pros: functional, durable, good reviews

Cons: ugly as sin

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6. Bumper Thumper Ultimate Complete Coverage Front Bumper Guardbumper thumper ultimate front bumper guard

What? You live in an area of town where the front of your car needs parking protection? Well, at least this $50 accessory is cheaper than moving. If you don’t mind your car looking like a grade-school kid with an unfortunate mouth retainer, this product lashes to the front bumper to provide protection for the nose of your car.

The Bumper Thumper (chuckle) attaches to the bumper’s leading edges, just like the rear unit described above, then goes hooked to the front license plate. Drive in a location that doesn’t require front plates? Good for you. The company recommends a separate license plate protector upon which a person can hook the Bumper Thumper. That particular unit gives the car an unfortunate overbite, but hey – you’re already required to mount a front plate so you might as well go 10/10 on the ugly factor.

Pros: protects the front of your car, scares those pesky kids into brushing their teeth

Cons: plate frame bumper sold separately

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7. Parking Armor Ultimate Rear Bumper Protectorparking armor bumper protector

This is the only bumper guard on our list whose sellers don’t show it deployed on a, y’know, actual car. Nevertheless, this rectangular accessory measures about four feet wide by a foot tall, so it won’t protect the corners of your ride but you should be covered in terms of height. Its straps are reinforced with steel to prevent theft and also have anti-skid foam pads on their anterior side to protect your car’s paint and keep the thing in place.

A foam core is apparently a good two inches thick, meaning it should be able to handle impacts that would flummox other bumper guards. It is weather protected, meaning it should hold up well in snow and rain. Nearly 90 percent of buyers from a good sample size give it four stars or higher, which is a pretty good endorsement.

Pros: straps are reinforced with steel, flexible construction to absorb parking whacks

Cons: more costly than some other options

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8. Luv-Tap Universal Fit Rear Bumper Guardluv-tap rear bumper guard

Our final entrant in this series is advertised to attach via bungee cords or suction cups. Those of you who remember the enormous uprights on the front bumpers of square-body GM trucks will recognize that styling feature immediately. Offered in different sizes and with or without a cutout for license plates, the Luv-Tap (comedic opportunities abound) should have enough options to fit just about any car.

By the way, those suction cups are apparently lined with a “washable/renewable” no-residue gel which create a temporary year-round bond. Just how temporary is not mentioned. Drivers could also use the supplied bungee cords should they so choose. There are up to six points of attachment.

Pros: protects the entire bumper, strangely machine washable

Cons: eye-searing styling choices

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End Notes: Yes, we’ve pilloried the style (or lack thereof) exhibited by these bumper guards all throughout this article. However, they do have their place in the automotive kingdom and do an admirable job of protecting a car’s bumper against the carelessness of others. Yea, most of them look like a diaper. At least they’re cheaper than paying a bodyshop to fix the damage.

Of course, if bumpers still resembled the units found on American cars of the ‘70s and ‘80s – especially the horrid 5 mph bumpers – we wouldn’t need to be talking about this type of accessory at all. Those bumpers were arguably designed not just to protect the car on which they were mounted but also inflict the most damage possible to other cars.

In an age where more and more cars are being packed into ever tighter quarters, some motorists can use whatever defensive weapons they can find. Bumper guards are a cheap way to do just that.

[Images provided by the manufacturer]

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29 Comments on “Bumper Cars: Best Bumper Guards For Your Ride...”


  • avatar
    PandaBear

    What about OEM factory bra? Do they still sell those?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Oh good lord. I’ve never heard of these temporary bumper guards. Is it a Canadian thing?

    Me, I’m waiting on the advertorial on curb feelers. My kids need them.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You can get those on Amazon…

      (Curb feelers I mean.)

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Thanks! I wish I could find black ones, instead of chrome. Or matte ones, all stainless, so they wouldn’t rust.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Honestly I put some curb feelers on my Highlander because the steering is so numb (early implementation of Toyota electric steering) that I couldn’t tell when my tires were against the curb. Mine didn’t rust much but then here in NM the precipitation comes in bursts and goes away quickly.

          I’ll be taking them off likely tomorrow when I polish the headlights and start preping it for trade in next month.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “start preping it for trade in next month.”

            Finally.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @ajla

            lol, I might hate it but I’ve got the discipline to pay it off. ;-)

            Closing on the house on May 29, moving the first weekend of June, turn 42 on June 7, start my new job on June 10.

            It’s a heck of a month.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

            Dan, have you factored in the hit your credit will take from the home purchase* in your plans to replace the Highlander? Back when I sold cars, I had two deals unwind because new home buyers also tried to ‘sneak’ a car purchase through before their debt/income ratio got blown out of whack.

            *Congrats on that BTW, and on your promotion!

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      I actually have never seen these things. Is this something you find in large cities?

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Same here. With all the cameras and sensors on vehicles these days I guess the need for such guards is quickly going away. Thankfully I’ve never lived or worked in an area where parallel parking was required. I assume such places is where one might find these guards deployed.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          You raise a good point. Many of these bumper guards cover the sensors in the bumpers, especially in the rear!

          More importantly, they don’t provide much protection. I had a guy in a Ford 150 with a dock bumper back into my car in a parking lot. His bumper rode over mine, bent the trunk lid, cracked a tail light, and pushed in the panel holding the license plate. Repair cost: $2400.

          The guy was doing 1 mph! One of these bumper guards would have done nothing but prevent the plastic bumper cover from being scratched.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      As for curb feelers. I put some of these on my 66 Mercury Comet back in 1970 when I was dating my wife. I had to park in front of her house and I was continually marring my whitewalls on the concrete curbing. People made fun of me even back then. I think I got them from JC Whitney.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @CobraJet – my thick sidewalls and factory aluminum rims are more important than looking cool. ;-)

        @Middle-Age (Ex-Miata Man) can take 2 weeks to 2 months for that to hit the report. My credit union is so small and they intend to service the loan I’m betting on longer time period. Plus the resale on the Highlander is actually pretty good right now.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    The penultimate paragraph is one of the more lackluster ones I’ve read in recent years on TTAC.

    “Of course, if bumpers still resembled the units found on American cars of the ‘70s and ‘80s – especially the horrid 5 mph bumpers – we wouldn’t need to be talking about this type of accessory at all.” The bumpers that looked bad were the ones that were grafted onto pre-5-mph-legislation designs. Late-5-mph-era bumpers were fine, since stylists and engineers incorporated them into the overall design from the outset of the project. I realize that nuance doesn’t fit into the “sucks or rocks” outlook of 2010s scribes.

    “Those bumpers were arguably designed not just to protect the car on which they were mounted but also inflict the most damage possible to other cars.” I honestly can’t tell: Is that a joke or a serious claim? A typical 5-mph bumper had rub strips on it which were easier on other cars than were their naked chromed steel predecessors.

    This site is better when it seeks to educate rather than pontificate.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      My wife had a low speed crash into the rear of an early 70’s era Mercedes sedan. She was in our 74 Gran Torino with the 5 mph front bumper. The crash took out the Mercedes tail lamps and sheet metal. There was not a scratch on the Torino. The police on the scene kept asking “where is the car that hit the Mercedes”?

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        And a ’72 Torino wouldn’t also have damaged the Mercedes in that scenario? Damage sustained during parking is the discussion at hand.

        Guy made a silly claim (albeit one tempered by the weasel word ‘arguably’). I called him on it. Let’s leave it at that.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Say what you want about the era of 5 MPH bumpers – one thing for sure is you didn’t have to worry about these first world problems.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    The pedestrian trims of the BMW E46 3-series used to have nicely integrated black bumper strips on the front and rear. I wish cars still did that.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Yes, and I believe the E46 came well after 5-mph bumper requirements had been phased out. We’re not talking about re-engineering the whole vehicle; we’re talking about a little common sense in designing bumpers that afford some consumer protection against needless expense.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I travel all around the US for my business. I have only seen these kinds of bumper protectors used in New York City. Never anywhere else.

  • avatar
    ABC-2000

    I live in NYC, you see these everywhere, I use it back and front on my 2018 Accord as I park it in a valet parking garage in Manhattan on a daily basis.
    The problem with the front is that many cars come with no bumper, I mean, the front is completely exposed, one touch of your front agains a wall or an SUV can do a lot of damage, look at all new Mazda’s, Audi’s and the Accord, the problem with covering the license plate is that most products partly hide the plate and at least in NY state, you get a ticket since it’s unreadable from the side.
    The one I got is on the white Acura in the picture, called Bumper Thumper, the plate is actually on the outside so you get the protection and no tickets.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    a little acetone would probably take the logos off if theyre screened on.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Looking at these FUGLY things instantly made me think “New York City” where the normal parking mode is to deliberately back into the car behind you then pull forward .

    Always it has been so and the 1950 ~ 1970’s imports never had a chance .

    -Nate

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