Buying a Rear Bar for your 4WD

There’s a lot of different vehicle protection accessories that you can purchase, and a rear bar is a pretty popular option for both wagons and Utes.

Kaymar Rear Bar on our 80 Series
A Kaymar Rear Bar on our 80 Series Land Cruiser with twin swing away tyres

What is a rear bar?

A rear bar is literally the opposite of a bull bar. They are basically a piece of steel that wraps around the rear of your four wheel drive to protect the rear of your car, hold spare tyres, jerry cans and other accessories.

Hilux Rear Bar
A Kaymar Rear Bar and custom tyre carrier

What are the benefits of fitting one?

Rear Bars are fitted for numerous reasons. Some of these include:

Increased clearance and better departure angle

One of the easiest ways to damage your four wheel drive is to drive over something that is just slightly taller than your vehicle, and rip a bumper off, or dent a panel on the rear.

A massive number of 4WD’s have rear panels or bumpers that hang down extremely low. By fitting a Rear Bar all plastic bumpers are removed, and you usually gain more clearance at the rear of your vehicle, which gives you a better departure angle.

Making use of the rear bar
Some rear bars actually improve your departure angle, and that’s always a good thing

Protection of rear quarter panels

I mentioned above that one of the most common damages done to a four wheel drive is at the rear of a vehicle.

If you drop into a hole its easy to catch the rear of the car on the dirt or docks, and this can lead to expensive repair bills. By having a big lump of steel there, it takes the brunt of the force and leaves your vehicle unscathed!

Rear Bar on 40 series land cruiser
Quarter panels are easily damaged

Better load distribution on your chassis for towing

A lot of the standard tow bars don’t distribute the weight of a trailer evenly over the chassis. By fitting a quality rear bar you distribute the load more evenly over the chassis, and ensure that your towing is worry free.

A base to fit accessories

One of the most common reasons for a rear bar to be fitted is so you have somewhere to mount other accessories. These range from swinging tyre carriers, jerry can holders, high lift jack holders, shovel holders, lights, tables and the list goes on. You can’t easily hang these off the back of your four wheel drive panels.

A lot of four wheel drives have their spare wheels under the vehicle. If you fit a fuel tank in its place (long range fuel tank or LPG) you will have to pull the spare out (and most people want them out anyway as they are hard to get to, can be damaged when you go four wheel driving and reduce clearance) and then you need somewhere to put the tyre. A Rear Bar provides the perfect base.

Our old LED work light
We absolutely loved the rear light on our Kaymar Bar

Rear Bar accessories

The most common accessory you will see on a Rear Bar is swinging tyre carriers. Most vehicles only fit one, but those that travel in remote areas will fit two swinging arms. They have a latch to undo the arm, and you just swing them towards the outside of the vehicle.

In essence you are given a strong place to store spare tyres, as carrying two spares elsewhere is very difficult. People will often mount jerry can holders on swinging arms as well, to carry diesel or water. I believe carrying unleaded petrol on the rear of a vehicle is illegal in all states of Australia.

Troopy Tyre Carriers
Dual Tyre Carriers with a high lift jack mount

Rear Bars are also a great place to hang work lights off, and there are numerous kits that you can purchase to give you light.

Shovels and high lift jacks can usually be bolted onto the same swinging arm as the tyres are on (by fitting long threaded bar, which sorts out another storage issue. I have seen a number of people making tables fold down from their rear bars, which is a great idea if you have a bit of time and hands on skill!

Things to look for in your Rear Bar

Rear bars are purchased for a number of different reasons, and you want to make sure that these are going to be fulfilled. If you purely want a rear bar for storage space then as long as it is strong, functional and not too expensive you can’t really go wrong.

However, I have a problem with rear bars that only protect the last 150mm of your vehicle, and this is very obvious if you do a lot of 4WDing. A lot of damage is done to quarter panels in between the rear tyre and the back of your vehicle, and if the bar doesn’t have side supports it is only really doing half it’s job.

How much side coverage do they provide
How far forward does the bar run?

Ideally the rear bar will stick out at least 20mm on either side of your vehicle. This ensures that if you do slide into a rut and your vehicle hits the side wall the bar takes the damage and not your expensive panel work! Make sure that the latches that you get work well, and are not going to come loose.

Who makes rear bars?

There are plenty of different companies in Australia that make Rear Bars. Kaymar have the majority of the market share, and they do a brilliant job making bar work for most model four wheel drives out there. We have had two Kaymar Rear Bars, and are really pleased with them.

However, they are not cheap! ARB, TJM, Millweld, Rasslar and Avenger are a few other well known companies that make rear bars as well. There are a heap of local fabrication shops that will make these up too.

Rear bars by themselves range from around $800 – $5000. The swinging arms can cost anywhere from $300 – $1200, depending on the vehicle you own, the product being purchased and how well you can bargain!

Roof Rack on a 200 series
A 200 series with a big rear bar

Making your own Rear Bar

A Rear Bar is something that you want to look good, and to make something that is strong, functional and good looking can be difficult unless you are quite competent when it comes to metal work. That being said, the best looking rear bars are the custom ones!

When I bought My Hilux, it came with a Kaymar Rear Bar. I priced up a swinging tyre carrier ($800) and nearly had a heart attack. I purchased about $50 worth of steel and knocked a swinging arm up in an afternoon with a mate. Since then, I’ve made another one with two jerry can holders incorporated.

Simple Rear Bar on a Patrol
A custom GQ Rear Bar

The swinging arms are not that hard to make, and there are hundreds of guides on forums, along with photos and detailed information to get you through. Providing you can handle a grinder and you can weld reasonably (or know someone who can) you will save some decent money.

80 Series rear bar
Kaymar Rear Bar on our 80 Series

Fitting work lights to your rear bar

There are plenty of kits that you can purchase for rear bar work lights, or you can just buy a quality LED light, make some mounts up and wire it up. Most work lights sit above the spare tyre, but I have seen them in other places. Fit it where it is easy to do so, whilst providing a decent amount of light.

Should you get a rear bar?

I’ve lost count of the number of times my Kaymar Rear Bar has saved panel damage to the rear end of my Hilux, and the same applied to our 80 Series Land Cruiser. They are an accessory that is well and truly worth fitting to your vehicle if you are frequently off road, and are likely to do damage.

That said, its really up to you; they’re heavy, make accessing your gear harder with swing aways and there’s never a free lunch. If you’re more careful off road (or you do less of it), they’re not a must have. This is exactly why you don’t need a Bull Bar either, but they can be a good idea.

Do you have a rear bar? Are you happy with it?

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *