Can damage be assessed without removing bumper after being rear-ended?

We were rear-ended in a low-ish speed collision (we were stopped in traffic on the highway). A few very minor scratches on our 2009 Jetta bumper but no dents – the guy who hit us had a bit more damage to his older sedan. It fixed my brake light that was out!

My husband took it to a shop, where the guy looked underneath, said he didn’t see anything, and said if there was internal damage he would see SOMETHING on the outside/underside. (I think he said something about clips or whether things were aligned, but I wasn’t there).

I don’t want to be rear-ended in a year and suffer more damage than needed because we have some internal damage to the bumper. My husband doesn’t want to go through the hassle of a second opinion, as he said this guy “seemed to know what he was doing.” Does the bumper need to be physically removed to check internal damage? Is that a job that is such a pain to do that a mechanic might say there’s no damage because it’s not worth the money to him to remove it and actually look?


If it’s a reputable body shop, they will know.

Thanks for the input. It was recommended by a very reputable place next door to it.

My car was rear ended at a stoplight last summer by an intoxicated driver. The bumper on one side was obviously out of position and later I found some wrinkled sheet metal in the trunk. Look in your trunk, if you have one, under the fabric and cardboard covers. If there is no wrinkling and your bumper looks ok then my guess is that your car is fine.

I’m inclined to accept the word of a the body shop for a simple reason… they always try to find extra work to do. If the guy didn’t try to hit you up for more repairs, there probably aren’t any to make.

after disassembly the shop might find hidden damage but they will supplement the insurance carrier handling this claim.

There is no way on the face of the earth I would take the word of someone, shop or not, that things looked “okay” after a rear end collision just by him glancing at the bumper cover.

They need to take off the bumper cover, and actually look at parts.

How do you know that the guy who “inspected” your car wasn’t running late for a hot date before he had a chance to look at your car?

Take the car in for a second opinion.
Its not on your dime, anyway.


Did the mechanic inspect your car on a lift? If not, that needs to be done. It’s difficult to crawl under most cars and insect anything while they have all 4 wheels on the ground. If it was done on a lift, it should be clear whether there is any damage.

She said he looked at it underneath, not at the bumper cover.

I think you are ok. There is first the plastic bumper cover that you see. It does absolutely nothing except look good. If its not scratched or broken, no problem with that. Then underneath the cover is a more substantial metal channel with a chunk of foam in it. The channel is attached to two shock absorbers. Even if the metal channel is bent a little it is not a big safety factor. The important part is the shock absorbers. If they have been compressed from the impact, it is important that they are not bent or remain compressed. An inspection from under the car will show whether or not they have been compressed and if they have returned to their normal position. If a body shop inspected the shock absorbers by looking underneath, no problem. If there is no cosmetic damage to the platic, no problem either. Thats what bumpers are for-to be able to take a 5 mph impact without damage. The bumper cover does not have to come off to inspect the shock absorbers.

@Bing…The channel is attached to two shock absorbers. Even if the metal channel is bent a little it is not a big safety factor. The important part is the shock absorbers…

While we have not had a VW in our shop for quite some time the days of impact absorbers in the form of shock absorbers have been gone for 20 years. Nowadays the typical bumper assembly is a metal impact bar bolted to the vehicles frame rails, a plastic or foam impact absorber then the plastic bumper cover/fascia.

If the other car has damage you can bet you do too. Same situation for guy at work. He was going to let it slide. I convinced him to get a second opinion and they took it apart to assess. $2k in hidden damage. The bumper cover was barely scuffed.

Think about it. You were struck from behind. The other guy is 100% liable. His older (i.e. heavier) sedan has damage. No sense not being thorough.