Trail Experience: My Off-Road Crash & How The Ironman 4×4 Raid Series Front Bumper Saved My Tacoma – What To Know About Aftermarket Bumper Safety
It might seem obvious that the best way to protect your truck both on and off-road is to install an aftermarket front bumper. But I was personally surprised by how much of an impact it made on my accident and how much it saved me.
In this post, I would like to tell a little bit of story time about my off-road accident and then go into how my Ironman 4×4 Raid Series bumper prevented my truck from taking severe damage and saved me hundreds of dollars.
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Accidents With Off-Road Bumpers
Table of Contents
Before getting into exactly what happened to my truck, I feel it would be important to lay out my setup so you have an idea of what was on my truck and what saved it from being totaled. I have covered pretty much every step of my build on this site, most notably the various Ironman 4×4 products that I have installed.
I am running the Ironman Raid Series front and rear bumpers with a monster winch and Ironman lighting. Additionally, I have a CVT Mt. Bachelor rooftop tent mounted on a Cali Raised bed rack. Finally, I have 33″ tires and a RIGd Supply hitch-mounted spare tire carrier.
This build has been perfect for my uses and I am very happy with how it has gone. For reasons that will soon be obvious, I am more than satisfied with my Ironman 4×4 armor.
Check out my Raid Series armor posts below.
Setting The Scene
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what happened leading up to the accident. It was my birthday and my friends and I decided to head to Tahoe for a weekend escape. The day started out perfectly. I hit the trails for some world-class mountain biking and then hit the lake with my friends. We hit up some local spots and had an all-around beautiful day in the mountains.
Before cooking up some steaks for everyone, we decided to go explore some of the forest roads before it got dark. After wandering around for a little while I decided to show everyone a road that I had driven a handful of times before. We were cruising along just as the sun had set and everything was going normally.
At this point, it was pretty much dark, with only a few lingering rays of light shining through the forestry. Off the bat, I will take full responsibility for the fact that I was driving a little overconfident. I was certainly cruising a little too fast considering that I had not aired down and the roads were caked with dust. We started coming up on a corner at about 40 mph when I realized that the turn was much sharper than I remember.
I have a solid understanding of the traction that my Tacoma gets and have always been able to control drifts and breaks in traction. This time, however, we lost traction and slid sideways into a dirt bank that was on the side of the road from routine grading. After nearly rolling over, we ended up going straight into a tree slightly off the trail.
It all happened extremely fast, too fast to process, but by my estimation, we hit the tree at around 25mph. All of the window curtain airbags came down and after checking on everyone, I got out to assess the damage.
How Much Damage Was There?
After getting out of my Tacoma and checking on everyone again, I walked around my truck to see if it was salvageable. My initial assessment revealed major damage to my Ironman bumper and one of my tires was unseated from the wheel. At this point, it was completely dark and I decided to see if I could get my truck out of there. Our house was only a short drive away.
After backing my truck out of the tree. I saw the full damage to my bumper. The middle of the bumper where the tree had contacted was caved in and this bent the corners of the bumper outwards. Surprisingly, the auxiliary lighting and winch all still worked and were largely undamaged.
The only damage that the interior parts took was the threaded mounting point of the lightbar which had somewhat stripped loose. Somehow, it still threaded and unthreaded relatively smoothly.
Aside from the damage you would expect on your bumper after driving straight into a tree, my faux TRD Pro Grille was cracked in a few places and the grille surround was pressed up into the hood. After changing my flat tire we drove my truck home and went to the hospital to get our minor injuries checked out.
Bumper Safety Features
According to Ironman, their bumper is fully crash-safety tested and SRS airbag compatible. “SRS” stands for Supplement Restraint System which refers to the airbag system that comes in our trucks.
The Raid front bumper system is ADR (Australian Design Rule) 69 and 73 approved. These certifications refer to full frontal impact testing that essentially tests a vehicle’s ability to divert forces away from the passengers in an accident. Ironman also says that the bumper features crumple zones that transfer impact energy away from passengers.
While it might seem that having a metal bumper that weighs 100+ lbs. would be beneficial in any scenario, these safety features are important to protect passengers in an accident. Attributes like Ironman’s crumple zone can be life-saving in a big crash. In my personal experience with my crash, the bumper certainly took the bulk of the energy and possibly saved my friends and me from serious injury.
Are Bumpers Worth The Investment?
As I got into the off-roading scene, I thought that aftermarket overland bumpers were for two kinds of people: those looking for off-road functionality and those looking for cool aesthetics. It was not until I installed the Raid bumper on my truck that I realized the potential benefits that a front bumper could have for any Tacoma owner.
Certainly, you could own a Tacoma for years and never install a bumper without any issues. If you off-road consistently, a quality front bumper is definitely important. But for those who do not wheel often or at all, I see bumpers as an investment.
Even if you are a 5-star driver with a clean record, you never know when someone else will crash into you on the road, or when a freak accident might occur. And although it may never happen, that one time you get into an accident you are going to wish you had it.
I am not saying everyone needs to buy the exact setup that I am running, although I do highly recommend it. If you have less of a need for an aftermarket bumper you could be set with a more budget-friendly low-profile system.
Ultimately, I am extremely satisfied with the Ironman Raid series front bumper and thankful for the protection it provided for my passengers and me. The price of high-quality front bumpers can certainly be a hard pill to swallow, but if you look at them as an investment it can be easier to come to terms with. Again, not everyone will find a need for one, but after that one unexpected accident, you will certainly wish you had one.
I would suggest checking out our buyer’s guide on the 2nd and 3rd Gen Tacoma front bumpers if you want to explore more options.
There are a ton of choices out there in terms of function, style, and brand, so if you are looking for a bumper I would certainly recommend researching. However, based on my experience with the Ironman bumper I would suggest it to anyone in need of an aftermarket bumper solution. For those wondering, I did replace the bumper with a new Raid Series bumper, all things considered.