IIHS: Mismatched Bumpers Between Cars And SUVs Can Cost Big

December 2, 2010
Low-speed impacts between two vehicles of the same type aren't likely to show much damage. But even in seemingly minor bumps, collisions between cars and SUVs—even those from the same automaker—can involve hefty damage bills adding up to nearly $10,000 in some cases.

So says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which tested seven different pairs of 2010 and 2011 models, with a small car and a small SUV of the same automaker, one striking the back of the other vehicle at 10 mph while the front vehicle was stationary. In each case, the IIHS ran the tests in both ways, with the SUV rear-ending the car and with the car rear-ending the SUV.

Altogether, the IIHS then added up damage repair costs from these crash tests—either SUV into car or car into SUV. Outcomes varied from just $850 (Hyundai Tucson into Kia Forte) to $6,015 (Toyota Corolla into Toyota RAV4). And both of the Corolla/RAV4 crashes would add up to $9,867.

10 mph enough to disable a vehicle?

Bumper-damage repair costs in 10-mph crashes Source: IIHS

Bumper-damage repair costs in 10-mph crashes Source: IIHS

Enlarge Photo
Although the occupants of these vehicles would be unharmed, they wouldn't be able to drive away, the IIHS anticipated, because of the condition of the vehicles. "If they did, their vehicles would overheat, and the engines could be ruined," the agency said in a release.

"We picked vehicles from the same manufacturer because we think automakers should at the least pay attention to bumper compatibility across their own fleets," said chief administration officer Joe Nolan. "The results show that many don't."

According to the IIHS, a federal standard requires all bumpers protect in a zone of 16 to 20 inches above the ground, yet SUV bumpers aren't held to all the same regulations, and in a number of car-SUV collisions the bumpers fail to match up at all, resulting in costly damage to hoods, fenders, cooling or engine components, or even safety equipment.

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