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Buying a used car that's had bumper replaced?

My boyfriend is looking into buying a car, and the guy selling it got it off lease from Honda Finance Canada. He says that the Car Proof shows a $900 insurance claim for a replaced bumper. Should we be concerned that it potentially has unibody damage from an accident that would require this kind of repair? The price is extremely reasonable – $7000 for a 2005 Honda Civic LX, single owner, complete with a sun roof. I’m a bit worried that the price is too good to be true!

Well, the bumper is probably connected to the frame via a pair of shock absorber-like cylinders, that absorb the force of low speed crashes so it doesn’t go to the frame. If the bumper was replaced but the cylinders were not, it was probably a very low speed collision and probably did not cause frame damage. But, if you want to be sure, you can take it to a body shop for an inspection before you buy. (If the seller won’t let you take it for half a day for a mechanical and body inspection, don’t buy from him.)

Have a shop get it in the air to put an eyeball on it. Check the brakes, etc. Todays bumpers are not mounted on cylinders. They have not used that design since Moses crossed the Red Sea (:
The bumper impact bar is mounted onto the ends of the frame rails. A foam impact absorber (hard styrofoam) is then placed onto the impact bar and the plastic bumper cover, the part you see is installed.

The price of $900 sounds about right for a bumper cover or a bumper cover and foam absorber, paint and labor. I would not worry about any unibody damage.

Heh, Moses must have crossed the red sea after 1992, because my old Protege had them. (I partly crushed one and never fixed it.)

Anyway, you should never by a used car without getting a mechanical inspection (engine, brakes, suspension, etc). If the shop does not feel they are qualified to give an opinion on the frame, you could also have it inspected at a body shop.

You can have a body shop look over the bumper. As long as it looks straight and doesn’t droop on one side of the car or the other it is probably OK. Don’t expect the paint on the repaired bumper to last as long as the rest of the paint on the car. Paint on plastic bumpers from body repairs often peels and/or cracks off faster that the factory paint job. Otherwise it should be fine.

(I partly crushed one and never fixed it.)

As you may know, that is not a really good idea. Those foam crush pads protect your car from much more costly damage, and to some extend even your personal safety. They are generally cheap to replace. I had a cop back end me one evening. Once I found out how little it cost to fix it, I never even bothered to make the claim.

You can have it inspected, but it is likely no problem at all. Crawl under and look at it yourself. As SDWH said, the bumper is a steel beam overed with the plastic fascia, and attached to shock absorbers. The shock absorbers are attached to the frame of the car. The shocks fail before body damage occurs. Someone hit an old Taurus I owned, and all I had to do was replace the shocks. The bumper was fine in this case.