Bumper To Bumper

This just in from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): bumpers on cars and SUVs don’t line up leading to huge repair bills in what should be minor collisions in stop-and-go traffic.

The Institute’s crash test results show that in fender-benders with SUVs, cars often end up with excessive damage to hoods, engine cooling systems, fenders, bumper covers, and safety equipment like lights. SUVs don’t always come out unscathed either, often needing extensive work.

Hat tip to the New York Times Wheels blog for more on this story.

The Institute conducted 10mph front-into-rear crash tests involving seven pairs of 2010-11 models, each composed of a small car and small SUV from the same automaker.

In the tests, an SUV going 10mph struck the back of its paired car, and then the test was reversed with the car striking the back of its paired SUV.

Damage repair costs in the tests varied widely, but ran into the thousands of dollars, even for the best performers.

Total damage estimates ranged from $2,995 to $7,444 in the SUV into car tests, and from $3,601 to $9,867 in the car into SUV tests. It’s worth noting that the SUV didn’t always have the lower damage estimate either.

In the words of Joe Nolan, the Institute’s chief administrative officer:

“In the real world that money comes straight out of consumers’ wallets through deductibles and insurance premiums.†

So what’s the solution?

According to the Institute, regulating SUV bumpers would ease the burden.

While bumpers on cars are designed to match up with each other in collisions (a federal standard requires all cars to have bumpers that protect within a zone of 16 to 20 inches from the ground), a long-standing gap in federal regulations exempts SUVs from the same rules.

The Institute is calling on regulators to require bumpers on SUVs and pickups to match up in the same way as cars, shielding both from costly damage.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on auto insurance and info on auto crashes.

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