Which type of roll cage is superior: bolted or welded?
A: A roll cage is a key piece of safety equipment for Jeepers. Some bolt together and onto your rig and others are welded. Your choice depends largely on your budget and expertise. Let’s take a closer look at each type:
Bolted (a.k.a. “bolt-on” or “bolt-in”) roll cages are attached using bolts, nuts or nutserts (a.k.a. rivet nuts) which can generally be removed. A lot of the time, bolt-in roll bars and other parts use holes already present in the application, requiring less modification to install. Bolt-on parts can generally be painted or powder-coated outside or off a vehicle for a custom or matching finish.
A bolted roll cage still requires some welding, but they are essentially just attached to the vehicle frame or supports. From a strength standpoint, bolting in a roll cage can be just as strong as welding if it’s installed correctly. Going this route can add a lot of options for Jeepers who do not have the means to build and install a roll cage from a fabrication standpoint.
Because bolt-on parts can generally be removed if needed with little to no evidence they were ever present, bolted roll cages are definitely a friendlier option for do-it-yourselfers.
Welded roll cages’ attachment points are heated to the point of melting in order to join them together. This process is very difficult to undo. Done correctly, welding parts generally takes two or three times as long as bolting.
Generally speaking, welded-on parts are more rigid than bolted-on parts. It’s just the nature of the install. Welded parts normally have to be painted after being installed due to the heat involved, so that’s something to take into consideration.
Ultimately, you will select your roll cage based on personal preference, experience, and the cost and time involved. Both work well in most situations. But I will leave you with this: I have never seen a true off-road truck or buggy with a roll cage bolted, rather than welded, onto its frame.
Nuts and Bolts
Mike Hughes is the parts and service director at Ferman Chrysler Jeep Dodge of New Port Richey (Fla.). He believes bolted and welded roll cages have distinct advantages but notes that “true” off-roaders tend to prefer the latter.