The purpose of a bumper is to prevent safety equipment on a car from being damaged. In most cases, rear and front bumpers are made of a reinforcement bar covered in plastic. The bar itself is usually made of aluminum, steel, plastic composite or fiberglass depending on the manufacturer. Some bumpers are designed to crush in order to absorb energy in a higher-speed collision. Bumpers are especially useful for people who have to park on the street or in parking lots frequently. Fenders, exhaust systems and lights are common examples of protected parts that would otherwise be costly to fix. Experts estimate that $6 billion is paid out every year for fender benders or low-speed collisions. This means higher premiums for everyone.
There are government regulations for bumper performances. They apply to passenger cars but not SUVs, trucks or vans. The first bumper standard was issued in 1971. Requirements have remained consistent since 1982, and they include 10 specific bumper tests. These tests include a pendulum test as well as fixed flat barrier crash tests. Many people have asked if these standards that have been in place for three decades could be tougher, and the answer is yes. The standards were actually tougher prior to 1982, which is when they were cut in half. Vehicles’ bumpers had to be built tougher to stand up better to low-speed collisions before that point.
Another question commonly asked is why bumper standards do not apply to larger vehicles. This is because the requirements outline standards for bumpers that are between 16 and 20 inches off the ground, and most larger vehicles’ bumpers are higher than this. However, this does not mean there will not be damage in the event of a collision between a car and a larger vehicle. Experts tested collisions between cars and larger vehicles in several circumstances. The damages ranged between $850 and $6,000. They are working with research centers to provide remedies that will lower repair costs in such instances for both larger vehicles and passenger cars.
When experts test bumpers for impact, they do so to the front and rear directly at six miles per hour. For the sides and corners of the bumpers, they test them at half of that impact speed. This means there is a total of four tests. Experts said that the new tests they used did not produce great results. They said that many bumpers did not line up geometrically, and they did not seem to absorb crash energy as well as they would like to see them perform. To see better results, they said auto manufacturers will have to start making better bumpers.
What makes a good bumper system? Experts say that stability, geometry and energy absorption are the most important issues. When vehicles collide at low speeds, their bumpers should ideally line up geometrically to absorb crash energy well. In addition to this, they should overlap one another in accordance with height differences to push a rear end up or lower a front end of a vehicle. In addition to this, bumpers should adequately protect headlights and fenders. To learn more about bumpers and their ratings, call ACBI at 203-259-7580.