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What is the purpose of bumpers?
The car bumper is designed to prevent or reduce physical damage to the front and rear ends of passenger motor vehicles in low-speed collisions. Automobile bumpers are not typically designed to be structural components that would significantly contribute to vehicle crashworthiness or occupant protection during front or rear collisions. It is not a safety feature intended to prevent or mitigate injury severity to occupants in the passenger cars. Bumpers are designed to protect the hood, trunk, grille, fuel, exhaust and cooling system as well as safety related equipment such as parking lights, headlamps and taillights in low speed collisions.
The most common impact zones on vehicles today are the front and rear bumpers. Most bumpers today are constructed of a painted plastic. When plastic bumpers are damaged and taken to a traditional body shop, normal procedure is to replace the bumper. This costs the consumer anywhere from $650 to $1500 for replacement parts, refinishing, and installation. Not to mention your car being in the repair shop for 2-4 days.
They're supposed to limit damage in minor collisions, but many don't.
Fender benders are expensive. Bills to repair crash damage can total thousands of dollars, and related insurance claims costs add up, too. That's why it's important to equip passenger vehicles with bumpers that effectively reduce damage in low-speed collisions. Better bumpers mean less out-of-pocket costs for consumers and lower insurance costs, plus they spare drivers the aggravation of dealing with repairs.
Bad bumpers are the norm. Many bumpers aren't high enough or tall enough to take the hit in low-speed crashes between SUVs, pickups or other cars. Additionally, many bumpers aren't wide enough to protect the corners of the vehicle. Even when bumpers line up with those on other vehicles reasonably well, many don't stay engaged with the other bumpers or can't absorb the energy of even a minor bump. This means expensive vehicle body parts and lights sustain most of the damage.
Bumpers on pickups, SUVs and vans are exempt from minimum federal performance requirements. Since the 1970s, rules for cars specify a zone for bumper heights and limit the amount of damage that's allowed beyond a bumper system in a low-speed crash. Because the rules don't apply to pickups, SUVs or vans, their higher-riding bumpers often don't match up with those on cars. Crash energy may bypass the bumpers to damage vehicle bodies and lights.
What are the good attributes of a good bumper system?
Geometry, stability and energy absorption. Bumpers on colliding vehicles should line up geometrically so that they engage each other during a low-speed crash to absorb crash energy. The bumpers should overlap each other enough to account for variations in ride height and preimpact braking, which can lower the front end or raise the rear end of a vehicle just before impact. Bumpers should stay engaged with the other bumpers in collisions instead of overriding or under riding them, which often results in damage to vehicle grilles, headlights, hoods, fenders and trunks. Bumpers also should have sufficient energy-absorbing capabilities to confine damage to the bumper system itself.
Automobile bumpers are built to withstand up to a 5 MPH crash without damage. This is not done to ensure the safety of the occupant but rather to protect and limit the damage to the bumpers, keeping the cost of repair to a minimum. Many times, a vehicle to vehicle impacts can sustain an impact of 8 to 9 MPH before there’s recognizable damage to the motor vehicle. However, and this is a provable fact, when the bumper doesn’t crumble and absorb the force of the impact - - more of that crash is felt by the occupants.
Keep in mind that this is what we bumper repair shops do for a living, we specialize in bumper repair, we cut the cost of the major repair industry shops, we use top of the line equipment and in some cases, can do this all in a day. So, before you go running to a body and fender shop just to get your bumper repaired consider your local bumper repair shop, remember a lot of body fender shops advertise bumper repair so their website will pop up in a search, make sure your dealing with the bumper only repair shop in your city or town.