Why does it cost so much and take so much time to repair or replace a bumper?
Explaining car bumper repair costs can be complicated
This is due to the difficulty understanding of what a car bumper is, what the process is to repair or replace it and when it is safe to repair it. Bumpers started off as car bumper! made to take damage when bumped into things. A typical automotive bumper was held on by a few bolts, a few brackets and could be easily replaced. When bumpers were made of chrome or steel, there were not “opportunities” to repair them, they were damaged and required replacement.
As car design and complexity has increased, car bumper design has become much more complicated as well. Bumpers are now a complex component of the vehicle and perform many more functions than just protecting the body from damage. This complexity has caused car bumper repair costs to rise. To understand why car bumper repair costs so much, you need to understand what a bumper does, and what’s involved in repairing or replacing one.
What is involved in repairing or replacing the car bumper
Removing and installing a bumper, whether for repair or replacement, is no longer a simple matter of loosening a few bolts and brackets. Plastic or steel bumpers are connected to numerous vehicle systems, and it can take some serious time to disconnect all of those pieces from the car. Some of the typical systems are as follows:
- Turn signal and marker lamps: Fog lamps, turn signal lights, and marker lamps can be connected to or attached to a bumper. These lamps must be properly disconnected, removed, and replaced depending on the damage.
- Decorative trim and grilles: Plastic bumper can have dozens of separate trim parts, bumper parts must be carefully removed prior to repair or replacement. These parts were never designed to come off the car, so they can be difficult and time consuming to remove.
- Distance control and camera systems: Multiple backup and distance control sensors, front and rear cameras, vehicle temperature sensors, lane-change warning sensors are all commonly found in bumper covers.
- Airbag Sensors: Some bumpers have Airbag sensors connected to them or are directly attached to bumper reinforcements.
- Air Intakes and air ducts for cooling electrical and braking systems: All of these electrical systems have to be cooled properly. There are many air ducts and plastic parts to direct cooler air over complex automotive components.
You still have to paint the plastic car bumper
Once the bumper is taken apart and disassembled, it’s time to paint the bumper cover. If the bumper is being repaired and refinished, you start by repairing the plastic properly. This can involve using plastic repair material, body fillers, or other special repair materials to repair and restore the plastic bumper cover. The idea is to repair the bumper cover to the condition it was in when originally installed and make the repair last.
Once the bumper cover is repaired, the bumper cover is sanded. At Heritage, we only use PPG automotive paints! Automotive painting is a complex process to match and restore the paint to the existing color of the vehicle. There are multiple layers of primers, sealers, basecoats and clearcoats that have to be applied. There is no way to skip these steps without the paint failing.
Paint materials and repair materials
All of the plastic repair materials, sandpapers, masking tapes, and paint materials are costly. We use 3M and PPG materials to provide lifetime warranties.
Replacement part costs
Of course, in any collision, it’s likely that some parts will be damaged and need to be replaced. Part replacement cost varies by type of car, year of car and are impossible to tell in some situations until you take the bumper cover off the car.If there are lamps, backup cameras, distance and control sensors, or other parts damaged, those will increase repair costs. Even at slow speeds, collisions in a newer vehicle will quickly add up.
The costs and complexity adds up and will continue to increase unfortunately
As car bumper cover design becomes increasingly complex the time, repair tools, and the process needed to repair or replace them have grown. As more control systems and exotic materials are used in auto manufacturing, the repair costs increases.
What to do first?
The first step is coming by for a free estimate, to see what the cost will be. We can normally write an estimate in 15-20 minutes and at least provide guidance. We use both CCC and Mobiletechrx collision estimating platforms (depending on the situation and damage)