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Insurance Institute: Bumpers For Four 2002 Cars Not Doing Job

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Bumpers are supposed to protect your car in a crash, but tests of four new 2002 cars show their bumpers are not doing the job.

In a severe crash, bumpers can only do so much, but the

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

says its latest test of four 2002 cars show they have bumpers that cannot even take a bump.

"The front corners of vehicles are often damaged in low-speed crashes in everyday driving. None of the vehicles in this test group do a good job of protecting against that kind of damage," said Adrian Lund of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Each vehicle is run through four different barrier tests at just 5 mph -- a fast walking speed.

The Subaru Impreza ended with more than $2,500 in damage. The Mitsubishi Lancer and the Volvo S-40 each sustained more than $3,100 in damage.

The Volvo fared its worst in a test designed to see what happens if you back into something like a pole in a parking lot. Its bumper was crushed, bending a beam underneath and the trunk lid was bent so severely that it no longer shuts.

However, the Kia Sedona minivan fared the worst of any minivan the Institute has ever tested.

In the four tests, again at 5 mph , the damage totaled more than $9,700. In one test, the air bags deployed, cracking the windshield.

"Not only is this expensive damage to repair, but when airbags deploy needlessly, they could cause injury to occupants who otherwise would be fine," Lund said.

Automakers argue the tests are "not reflective of the real world."

To put the thousands of dollars in repair costs in perspective, when the Institute tested the newly designed Volkswagon Beetle in 1998, it ended with only about $200 damage in the same four tests.

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