5 On Your Side

Bumper damage a big cost with smaller cars

Posted June 11, 2009

High prices at the pump mean more people are opting for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. But new crash test results show fender benders can cost you big with those smaller vehicles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put seven mini and micro cars through bumper crash tests.

"Good bumpers are important for small cars because they have the highest collision frequency of all vehicles on the road,” said Joe Nolan, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Bumpers are supposed to absorb the force, protecting more expensive parts like the grille, hood, bumper, lights and fender. But despite those crash tests being low speed, between just 3 and 6 mph, none of the bumpers could handle it.

The Smart car for two people had the highest rating of only acceptable, but also had more than $3,200 in damage between the four tests.

The MINI Cooper, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio all received a poor rating.

The Rio had almost $9,400 in total damage in the four tests. The damage in the full front test alone cost $3,700, about 30 percent of the purchase price.

The Insurance Institute says expensive bumper damage isn't unique to the smaller car group. But since the cars are generally lower priced to begin with, the high repair costs are a larger percentage of the vehicle's worth.


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  • colliedave Jun 16, 2009

    But despite those crash tests being low speed, between just 3 and 6 mph, none of the bumpers could handle it.

    OK, what happens to the mobile beer cans when their speed is increased ten-fold and people perish due to poor protection. Will the cry be "Al Gore lied, people died?" Not likely.

  • Z Man Jun 16, 2009

    Here's an idea... pay attention while driving and don't hit anything!

  • ImaBee Jun 15, 2009

    After getting hit by a dump truck there is no way in God's green earth you would find me riding in a smart car or anything similar to it.

  • 68_polara Jun 12, 2009

    I've got a 5600 lb truck and would consider it selfish and wasteful to use it for anything other than on an as needed basis. I just think of my fiancée being hit with such a behemoth and drive a car instead. But if you don't care about anyone else on the roads or the amount of energy necessary to move it so be it.

  • working for deadbeats Jun 12, 2009

    My 6,000 pound trucks don't have this problem and they get 20+ mpg. Keep your toy cars out of my way.

  • Xiaoding Jun 12, 2009

    The Hyundai Accent has an excellent bumper! I don't give this test much credit.

  • 68_polara Jun 12, 2009

    Not so Iowa, my brother has a Yaris and a deer ran in to the side of it and cost 3,400 dollars to fix it. They are dangerous tin cans. But they are great on gas and being a Toyota will run for a very long time also surprisingly roomy in the front seats. The problem is that we all will pay high insurance for these things. The Volkswagen jetta and passat TDI Diesels are pretty safe and get 50 mpg. Now that's a smart car. Not the crummy little thing called the smart car.

  • Mr. Iowa Jun 12, 2009

    This will become less of an issue over time. It's a problem now because small, lightweight cars are the overwhelming minority. Once they become more numerous you'll have a better liklihood of being hit by a small car instead of one person driving a 4000 lb SUV and the damage will become lesser.