Durable bumpers

I live in the city where parking is a game of bumper cars. Although the ‘bumpers’ on new cars look nice, they scratch, pit and peel after a year or two of city parking. Is there a low mpg car with a more durable bumper?

No. All vehicles made in the past couple of decades use a plastic bumper cover, plastic or foam absorber and a metal reinforcement bar. It does not matter if you have an Escort or a Lexus, bumpers scratch, tear and gouge.

Both my Dodge Dakota pickup and my 2000 Blazer had steel bumpers with thick rubber molding. Both qualify as low mpg vehicles. These days most SUVs have plastic front ends too. The last car I remember with an honest steel bumper was my Dad’s 78 Cutlass.

Ed B.

Just some thoughts…
I have tubular steel bumper guards that attach to the sub frame, front and rear of my 4 runner, that have held up nicely. Our Rav is literally bumper less in the rear, so we installed a 2" receiver hitch and keep a big ugly tow hook in the receiver. Maybe in your situation a hitch with a welded bar to a receiver stock might work…I’ve also had a receiver attached to the front of a PU that protected that useless bumper well…
What’s a low mpg car reference. They should be easy to find; or did you mean “high”?
There are companies that make stuff out there…maybe not for compacts.

Taking the tow hooks off has given me good mounting surfaces for a front protective bar, I used years ago on a car for ice racing…

Just after WW II, chrome and steel were in short supply. Some cars were shipped to the dealers with wooden bumpers that were replaced with steel bumpers when the correct bumpers were available. I do remember seeing a car at a dealer when I was kid that had wooden bumpers.

These wooden bumpers probably weren’t real durable, but a quick trip to the lumber company and a few dollars would get you a new bumper when your old bumper became scratched.

Great idea for trucks…
I would love to see a truck with bumpers that had something like replaceable PT wood inserts for real “bumper” work.

Yes, I do mean high mileage. Sorry for the error. I like the responses, though. I’ve thought of adding wooden guards on my Camry. That couldn’t look worse than the manufacturer’s ‘bumpers’ do now. I did see a car recently that had a sheet of what looked like rubber hanging out of the trunk over the bumper. Maybe that’s the answer.

The most durable bumpers I have ever seen on a car were on my Dad’s 1939 Chevrolet. The least durable bumpers I have experienced were the bumpers on VW Beetles made up through 1967. This bumpers could be bent in and then the front deck lid wouldn’t open. The gasoline tank was under this deck, so you couldn’t fill the tank until you straightened the bumper out.

I have seen wooden bumpers on vans and old pick-up trucks as late as the 1980s.

Not since they stopped making Checker Marathons.

Seriously, there exist invisable stick-on removable plastic protective sheets for cars now. They’re new to the consumer market. One of those might help.

I had just installed a “custom” bumper hitch on my SAAB 99 with a friend’s welding help. It was raise well over bumper height with a ball attached. When rear ended by a Caddy, it rode up over his bumper and impaled the radiator of his less than year old car. He jumped out of the car and profusely apologized for hitting me. "Not to worry"
I said; the coolant you have leaking on the ground is enough of an apology for me."
So I still like hitches with “ugly” attachments to protect the rear.

I had a rear bumper on my Toyota 4WD that was a steel pipe that would normally be used to protect ATMS, gas pumps, etc. It was about 5-6" diameter. My dad and I went 4 wheeling along the Current river in Missouri and I let it roll back into a boulder. The boulder got a chunk knocked out but the bumper did not even have chipped paint.

Hello . . . It’s Not The Bumpers !

It’s a city ! You live in a freakin city.

I live out in God’s Country . . . no nicks, no scrathces, no pitting, no peeling. All I have is the sound of waves on the shore and chirping birds.

There are advantages to living in a city and the situation you describe isn’t one of them.



Yes, I know–and I envy the sound of waves. Alas, my work is here not there.

I understand your desire to “protect the rear” but that sounds pretty passive-aggressive. What exactly do you tow with your little Saab?

Maybe it was mentioned, but durable bumpers and good crash test results often do not go hand in hand. The are like the bike helmet with with one time crash, collapse and replace mentality which means high replacement costs for owners who want good looks. My solution; get a beater and show off every ding as a badge of acceptance to that end.

“I understand your desire to “protect the rear” but that sounds pretty passive-aggressive. What exactly do you tow with your little Saab?”

It wasn’t the “little” SAAB, but the 99. It was used for a utility trailer and an aluminum fishing boat. “Passive aggressive ?” We designed the hitch to fit the car. I really didn’t consider it being too high for a car rear ending me. Soooo, I should have let it scrape the ground when towing, just to pass a psychological evaluation ? I think not.

Back in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s there were bladders made out of some type of soft plastic that were filled with some sort of fluid that wouldn’t freeze in cold weather. These bladders extended the length of the bumper, both front and rear, and were clamped to the bumpers. On impact, the fluid would be released slowly through a small valve in a controlled fashion so that the energy of the impact would be absorbd. I think they were featured in either Popular Science or Popular Mechanics. I remember seeing advertisements for these in different magazines. When I visited my brother, who lived in Columbus, Ohio at the time, the taxicabs were equipped with these bumper protectors.

I guess these bumper protectors must not have worked out as they disappeared from the market rather quickly.

I saw these bumpers on some taxis in the early 1970’s in Cincinnati–they were clunky and ugly but since when have taxis gone for beauty contests? I recall our grade school Weekly Reader had an article on these bumpers at the time with a photo of a car in the middle of a crash with the liquid shooting out of the bumper’s many release holes. They also had a photo of a VW Squareback with a smaller version of these bumpers (yes, I remember the article but don’t ask me to recall anything of academic importance from that same day). After a few years I never saw any of these bumpers again. It would be interesting to see a slow motion crash test of them.

Tiredaq, is this what they looked like?