In recent days the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported their findings from a study on low speed (6mph) car impacts; the kind that are common in parking lots and bumper-to-bumper traffic. They are just the kind of accidents the cars bumpers are meant to protect you from expensive repairs. In the study it was revealed that many of the brands marketed in the luxury car category have bumpers that provide insufficient coverage and lead to some very expensive repairs.
The specific areas of the bumper the IIHS focused their research on were direct, front-end collisions, front corner collisions, direct rear-end collisions, and rear corner collisions. Out of all their test subjects the car from the luxury category that sustained the lowest dollar amount in damages was the Saab 9-3. The Saab’s grand total after all 4 accidents reached $5,243. The cheapest repair from just one of the collisions with the Saab was just under $1000. And that is the cheapest from this category.
Four of the luxury models tested sustained over $10,000 in repairs as a result of the 4-collisions test. The winner(?) with the highest dollar amount in damages was the Infiniti G35 sedan that rang-up $13,983 in repairs. Just one frontal collision alone in the G35 will cost you more than the total cost of repairs found for the Saab 9-3.
The reason given for the high cost of repairs is the lack of coverage area for most front bumpers. The front and rear bumpers of todays cars are hidden beneath costly fascia that give the cars a sleek and unified appearance. These fascia do well to disguise the inadequate cover from corner to corner the bumpers provide. Also, it was determined that the bumpers do not stick out far enough to protect the lights and front grills of the cars.
The simple comparison of the collision tests performed on todays cars against the less-than-pretty 1981 Ford Escort are staggering. The Escort in those same test ran of a total cost of repairs of $469. The reason is because the exposed reactive bumper met the oncoming object and stopped the car short of causing damage to the body of the car.
Now it is unlikely you are going to see a return in the styling of the Escort (thank goodness), but maybe this report will encourage the auto makers to return to a full frontal and rear bumper beneath all that fascia. Until the bumpers are returned to full width of the car that Bumper-to-Bumper coverage they advertise may not be as protective as you are lead to think.