Crunch. Uh-oh… it’s the unmistakable sound of a fender-bender.
When a car rear-ends you in a parking lot, there’s a lot that races through your mind… including, “How much is this going to cost?”
Unfortunately, with today’s high-tech cars, a minor impact doesn’t always mean minor damage. That bumper may look like just another piece of plastic… but the real price of repairing or replacing it might be more than you think.
How much does it cost to get a bumper fixed?
Believe it or not, below $1,000 is considered to be in the “acceptable” price range to repair a bumper on a midsized sedan, according to 2009 crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In real life testing, the averages were often higher and could exceed $2,000 for something as commonly found as a Chevy Malibu.
A more recent IIHS study in 2018 found that rear autobrake technology can stop some common fender-bender collisions before they happen (for example, reversing into a pole). But rear autobrake is still fairly rare – it’s offered as an option in only 5 percent of new cars, and standard in less than 1 percent.
And of course, rear autobrake probably won’t help if your car is parked and someone else backs into your bumper.
Today’s bumpers, now equipped with crash avoidance or smart technology, can contain sensors, cameras, wiring and even air intakes. An accident at less than 10 mph is enough to put a dent in any one of those high-tech features.
Even a small fender bender could damage your car’s frame or engine. That means you could be looking at thousands of dollars in parts alone. After paint and labor costs, that number can skyrocket.
The numbers may look scary – but a little preparation and know-how can give you peace of mind. If you are in a minor accident, here are a few things to think about:
3 Tips for a Stress-Free Fender Bender
- Know your vehicle’s features. Before an accident happens – do you know what a fender bender in your vehicle could cost? New safety features like adaptive cruise control and backup cameras are great – in fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now requires all new cars to have backup cameras – but their complex parts could make for more expensive repairs. Understanding your vehicle’s features can help you know what to expect, should your car take a dent.
- Look below the surface. After a minor impact, the damage to your vehicle could look like it’s limited to a few dents or scratches. But larger problems may be hiding behind the bumper cover. It’s a good idea to have your car inspected by a qualified mechanic or repair facility to determine the true extent of the damage
- Make sure you’re covered. Not all auto insurance policies are created equal. Knowing the ins and outs of your insurance policy will help you determine if your accident is covered, and how much you’ll need to pay out of pocket. (Want a quick primer? Learn more about these 5 common auto insurance coverages and how they might kick in after an accident.)