New Study: Fender Benders Can Be Costly


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a new study today that should make you pay more attention during those bumper-to-bumper commutes. Tap that car in front of you going just six mph, and the bill could be upward of $4,500 — and that’s just if you hit the car in front of you. Imagine the person behind you then giving you a love tap. That bill could exceed $9,000. And those are just the numbers for popular midsize sedans like the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Jetta, not luxury cars.

A full chart below shows the breakdown of the four tests IIHS ran on 17 popular sedans, and the resulting cost of repairs after the low-speed impacts. The problem with today’s cars is the integrated bumper no longer sticks out from a car’s body, and often it doesn’t align properly with the other vehicle — or test barrier, in this case — resulting in damage to headlights and hoods and often leaving the bumper itself untouched.

Parts costs also factor in. The Toyota Camry, for example, sustained significant damage, but the parts didn’t cost as much as ones for other models tested.

And what do we think of IIHS testing a 1981 Ford Escort for comparison — a car with old-fashioned protruding bumpers? It’s kind of humorous, but we doubt the 1981 Escort would do so well in any of the other crash tests IIHS puts today’s cars through.

We’re not sure what to take away from the tests. IIHS says styling has an influence, as well as simple strength of the bumper. In that case, some humdrum designs like the Pontiac G6 and Honda Accord could stand a change anyway. In the end, we’re just going to fiddle with the radio and navigation a lot less during our commute.

IIHS Video Report


By David Thomas | March 1, 2007 | Comments (8)
Tags: Safety



I believe it. My Fiancee just rear ended a car with her 2007 Jeep Grande Cherokee at about 5-10 MPH, and the cost to repair her Jeep is $1,500! The bumper was cracked a little but, the mounts and stuff behind it were cracked and bent.


Why does the corner cost more than the whole thing?


Corners cost more because it's a bigger piece. On the front there's still a "fender" but in the rear it's now called the "quarter" and it starts from the tail light seam to the rear doors. My wife's car was "Totaled" because the repair costs were more than 80% of the Bluebook value of the car. Even though the damage was less than $3k.

Also I've had two rear end collisons where SUV's have gone over the bumper and into the Tailgate/trunk of my car, causing significantly MORE structural dammage (the trunk latch pulls in the rear bulk head, requiring the entire rear of the car to be re-built) but the bumper skin isn't even scratched.

I'm not a big fan of "crumple zone" engineering if you want to keep a car for more than a lease term.

Bumpers and fenders are really quite expensive, but i still bought and installed ford fender -
- car looks good with it and my car is safe from collisions.


Sadly, this list looks pretty accurate. Why have steel bumpers gone the way of the do-do? Granted, in a collision, I'd rather have the car crumple than my own bones. But at 6 MPH? Surely cars should be designed to take a like that and remain relatively undamaged.

Had an encounter of the expensive kind with piece of ice. Been very cold, below zero in my area. That may have contributed to the bumper splitting in two. (Have toys in backyard made of heavier plastic that haven't cracked in 20 years.)

Turning car to pull into street. Extremely low speed crash, my guess is it was less than 2 mph. Airbags did not deploy, not even seat belts tightened up. Heard a noise, felt slight jolt. Nothing major.

Bumper had hit ice mound and split in two, then got ripped off front of car when I backed up (not knowing extremely low piece of bumper under car was stuck on piece of ice).

Cost to repair was under $1,000, which I had to pay for. If I put in claim for this, my insurance will surcharge me for what is a Honda design defect.

Wish I knew this when looking for cars. Don't feel safe in this car at all anymore.


my 2007 Honda Accord bumper did the same thing - didn't even think I hit anything, just driving over poorly plowed, icy streets, must have caught one of the mounds of icy snow we have to traverse for days in upstate NY - bumper is still on, doesn't look like any damage until you feel underneath the bumper where it cracked. Going to wait for warm weather to replace.

Andy Rooney once said: "Bumpers are worse than ever. They don't protect anything except the income of automobile parts departments."

Check this portable bumper out:

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