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A bug deflector, or bug shield, is an automotive accessory used on trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to keep insects and debris from striking the windshield. Wing-like in design, it slips on to the leading edge of the hood and is aerodynamically designed with a rising ridge that creates a slipstream effect, carrying bugs and dust over the top of the vehicle. In addition to guarding the windshield, a bug deflector also protects the hood from pitting due to flying pebbles, tar and other road debris.
You might wonder why bug deflectors aren’t made for all vehicles. The answer is that most cars are aerodynamically designed with sloping windshields and convex, down-turning hoods that minimize wind resistance and boost fuel economy. These design features allow wind to stream up and over the car.
Truck and SUV design is not primarily geared towards being sleek, but towards utility. The body design lends itself to priorities like visibility and cab room. Windshields tend to be closer to vertical and high-profile hoods, less convex. The sharper angle between windshield and hood combined with the higher profile of the SUV and truck make them ideal for catching windshield bugs, flying pebbles and road dirt. The bug deflector helps mitigate this by creating a wind stream that directs debris over the vehicle.
Most bug shields are made from durable acrylic and come in various tints from opaque black to semi-transparent gray, light smoke or rose tints. If you have a chrome grill or other chrome trim on your rig, you might prefer a stainless steel chrome bug shield to accent your hood. Designs available for your model truck or SUV are dependent on the manufacturer of the bug shield. If you can’t find what you’re looking for from one manufacturer, investigate other brands for more choices.
The height of the ridge on the bug shield determines the degree of wind deflection, so choosing a model with a ridge that is too shallow might not produce satisfactory results. A ridge that is too high, on the other hand, can make the bug deflector visually stand out on the hood. Generic type shields made to fit a variety of models might not be ideal for a particular truck or SUV, even if it physically fits the vehicle. The ridge might be too high or low to be ideal. Purchasing models specifically made for your vehicle can take the guesswork out of finding a good fit while getting the correct ridge height as well.
Bug deflectors come with installation hardware and instructions, and most do not require drilling or special tools. Attaching a bug deflector can take as little as 15 minutes using provided clips or screws that fasten to the underside of the hood. Protectors or pads should keep the shield from rubbing directly against the hood’s paint.
Bug deflectors are available everywhere automotive accessories are sold. Prices start at less that $40 US Dollars (USD) for smaller acrylic shield, while large chrome or stainless steel models made for full sized trucks can cost $100 USD or more. If you don’t feel comfortable installing a bug deflector yourself, a local automotive service center will likely do it for a small fee.
@Drentel - There is no guarantee that the bug deflector is going to cut down on rock damage, but dumb luck alone would suggest that the devices would stop some of the rocks that are hitting your windshields.
You should go with the biggest deflector you can purchase. The more area it covers, the more likely it is to deflect more rocks. Also spend the extra money for the higher quality shields. I have heard many stories about how the cheap deflectors crack when they take a solid hit from a rock.
You save money initially with the cheap ones, but what good is that if you have to replace them every time a rock hits them?
I have seen the bug deflectors on vehicles. In a large number of instances, the people who put them on their cars and trucks do so for the look. I have my doubts that they actually do much good for deflecting bugs.
Actually, I'm not all that concerned about bugs damaging my vehicles, and I can wash them off easily enough. However, I and my employees use pickups for work, and drive through construction sites and on a lot of gravel and rock roads. Because of the driving conditions, we end up with way too many cracked and damaged windshields.
You'd be surprised how many windshields we replace in a year. So, I am considering buying the bug shields to prevent damage from flying rocks. Does anyone have an opinion on how well a bug deflector works against rocks and gravel?