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Pocket Dictionary: What is a grille?

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By Jude Katende

Posted  Thursday, March 20  2014 at  02:00
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Car grilles are perhaps some of the most recognised parts on a vehicle. Be it a heavy truck, bus, or a tiny hatchback, there are perhaps 90 per cent chances that they will have a grille. A grille is used for ventilation or aeration of the engine among other vital things. A good, durable grille can also protect your radiator and the front mount intercooler and other vital engine components.

That is because grilles are designed in such a way that they allow only the passage of air and water. This prevents small rocks and other road debris from getting inside your engine, especially when you are cruising at high speeds, when even the smallest piece of debris can potentially become a dangerous projectile that can damage whatever’s under your bonnet.

Besides being positioned just below the bonnet and above the front bumper, some grille locations include below the front bumper, in front of the wheels (to cool the brakes), or on the rear deck lid (in rear engine vehicles).

Alibaba.com notes that these days big grilles are primarily cosmetic. The grille is often a distinctive styling element, and many marques use it as their primary brand identifier. For example, Jeep has trademarked its seven-bar grille style. Apart from the aeration purpose, grilles are used by vehicle manufacturers to brand their products. This is the major centrally located place ideal for fitting one’s logo or car sign. And in so doing, some grilles have become synonymous with certain car firms and a kind of signature design.

Like Jeep’s iconic separate bars, Mercedes Benz, for a long time used straight horizontal lines for almost all their vehicles. Audi is these days known for the single frame V shape look with a web of sorts. Other makers known for their grille styling include Bugatti’s horse-collar, BMW’s split kidney, Alfa Romeo’s six-bar shield and Volvo’s slash bar. Partstrain.com says the principle behind the grille is as simple as the component: the more you drive forward, the more air is pushed into the grille, the better your radiator can do its job.

Most grilles come with a metal or plastic insert that adds a touch of design to the front end of your car, giving it a more distinct visual appeal that sets it apart from similar car makes and models on the road. In case your grille is damaged, it can be replaced easily. And since a good grille is the centrepiece of your car’s face, positioned in a rather dangerous spot on your vehicle (up front), most grilles are made of tough carbon steel, powder coated for maximum durability in all driving conditions.

jkatende@ug.nationmedia.com