5 On Your Side

Bumper damage a big cost with smaller cars

Posted June 11, 2009 7:32 p.m. EDT

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.