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The Bumper Evolution

While at the auto parts store yesterday I hear a man yell who owns the black SUV, well I do I said. Turns out he tapped it while backing out, we exchanged insurance information and I went by the local auto body fender business the next day for an estimate.

Nine hundred dollars and change to replace the whole rear bumper caused by a tap that, if it had been a ’55 caddy tapping a ’55 Chrysler, would have likely been zero. No damage. Maybe a little buffing out.

I looked up the word bumper in the dictionary and found: a projecting rim or bar on a vehicle designed to protect it from damage.

Time to change the dictionary on this one. How about: an expensive piece of plastic sandwich designed to crack, dimple or break upon impact.

It’s been said that there wasn't a good bumper made after 1973. Got to believe that, protection from what? Oh well, times they are always changing, for the better or not I guess.

The old bumpers ''were about one-eighth-inch thick and about 50 pounds, with two coats each of nickel, copper and chrome.

Today, bumpers are four-inch-thick sandwiches of a plastic impact pad (or metal contact bar) and plastic foam, covered with ''bumper covers,'' the plastic cladding visible on the car.

Some reading this remember pushing a friend’s standard, three-speed, transmission car with a dead battery by aligning your front bumper to his rear and giving it a push without a second thought about damage. Them days are gone, couldn’t push a pillow without damaging these bumpers today.

How about for old time’s sake, inching up behind a friend stopped a red light and giving him a little bumper to bumper tap just to say hello. Heck no today, $900.00 in damages, lol, not funny.


One of the most frequently replaced and repaired automobile parts is the bumper. Because a bumper is designed to protect other parts of a car (including safety systems such as steering, brakes and lights), it is almost always struck during front and rear-end crashes, the two most common forms of auto collisions. The term "fender-bender" has come to mean a low-speed crash only involving bumpers, a frequent occurrence on today's congested roadways.

Stronger bumpers hold up better in crashes and need replacement less often. This saves consumer’s money both on replacement bumpers and insurance costs. Although heavier bumpers tend to be stronger, there is not a direct correlation between weight and strength. Some lighter-weight bumpers have held up much better in tests than comparable bumpers which are heavier.

While the American love affair with the automobile continues, consumers have a different attitude then they once did about quality, safety and the cost of vehicle ownership. A recent survey of new car dealers by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that car buyers are most concerned about quality and safety, even more than price.

On bumpers specifically, a recent Roper poll commissioned by the Insurance Research Council found that seven out of ten Americans think car bumpers are too weak and that car manufacturers should include information about bumper strength on window stickers in new car showrooms. Of the 70 percent who said bumpers were too weak, half said the standard should be raised back to 5 MPH and the other half agreed the standard should be even higher, perhaps as high as 8 MPH. 72 percent felt car makers should be required to provide bumper strength information on all new cars.

Obviously, repair and replacement costs skyrocket with weaker bumpers. But consumers pay in other ways, too. Because replacement auto parts can cost up to three times the expense of original parts, insurance claims can quickly mount. Insurance rates are based on the expected performance of a specific model, based on the industry's history with that model. Therefore, models with high repair histories cost more to insure. In addition, the cost of an individual policy can increase based on the number of claims submitted.


Remember todays bumpers do not always have to be replaced, seek out your local bumper repair service and save lots of money.


Denver, Colorado