AM Online

Car bumpers that do not bump

Carmakers are being put under pressure to standardize the height and strength of bumpers, following a report published this week by Thatcham, the motor insurers’ research centre.

European legislation requires carmakers to protect a car’s lights and steering for a simple pendulum crash of 2mph. Thatcham’s over the past two years shows that a collision at just 10mph could, in some cases, cost more than £4,000 in repairs because bumpers fail to absorb the impact or are positioned at different heights. This leads to vehicle write-offs as the cost of repair is uneconomical.

“Thatcham hopes to encourage more manufacturers to address this issue, benefiting insurers, repairers and motorists,” says Matthew Avery, Thatcham crash laboratory manager.

Key problems include override by SUVs with high bumpers and underride by curved bumpers, which cause the vehicle to slip beneath the rear of another vehicle, damaging the bonnet and headlights.

Also, some manufacturers use shallow stiff beam inserts only 4cm deep, which miss the beam inside the bumper of a colliding vehicle. It declined to name the manufacturers concerned.

Thatcham plans to devise a test to encourage manufacturers to improve bumper beams.

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