Fragile bumper covers

Full confession: This a venting complaint, not an “I expect someone to help me solve this” complaint. We have a 2012 Ford Fusion. Overall we like the car, shown here when we first bought it:

But there’s one aspect that has us frustrated: its “flimsy as an eggshell” bumper covers. They are very pretty. But at the slightest impact (in our case, gently tapping a frozen snowbank as we were slowly pulling or backing in to a parking space), they crack.The first time this happened a few years ago, we replaced the front bumper cover. This winter, it happened again to both the front and back bumper covers. The car is old enough that we’re not going to replace either bumper cover, just live with them until it’s time to trade the Fusion in for another car.

My question is, why would they make these bumper covers so fragile? We are accustomed to bumpers being able to take a little wear and tear, doing their job without such obvious aesthetic damage. Knowing what I know now, I’d rather have an industrial-looking bumper that does its job. Live and learn. That will be on our checklist for our next car purchase.

If that is on your list then you will not be buying a vehicle . Unless it is so old to be called a Super Classic. Behind that bumper cover is the real energy absorbing bumper that reduces the injuries you might have in a collision.

Parking sensors and a backup camera will keep you from hitting snow banks .

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Weirdly enough, we also have a Honda Civic with very similar styling, yet we’ve never had this issue with the bumper covers being cracked during such minimal impact.

I guess I assumed there are still cars being made the way they used to be, with your basic black bumper that could take a fair bit of abuse without looking abused. Apparently not, eh?

Well I suppose they might use a different plastic than everyone else, but I’ve never had that problem on either GM or Acura. They’ve gotten abused sometimes, scraped and even dented, but they have never cracked from just hitting a snow bank. It’d be interesting to talk to a body man on it.

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That’s been our experience with our 2008 Honda Civic. Those bumper covers have some dings and scratches, but nothing like the cracks on our Ford Fusion’s bumper covers. Like you, I wonder if the Fusion used a cheaper, thinner plastic that is more vulnerable to freezing temperatures … or frozen snowbanks.

We’d only had the car for two months when the first crack occurred. (That’s why we ended up replacing the darned thing. We’d only had the car a short time!) My husband, who usually drives the Civic, happened to be driving that day. As he described it, he was pulling in slowly and barely tapped the snowbank. This year, I was the one driving and pulling or backing in to my work parking space, which is up against a stone wall where a snowbank had built up. Again, I was going very slowly, and only heard a faint scrunching sound. It was only after I got home that my husband noticed first one crack in the front, and then a few days later a second crack in back. No one to blame but me … but I sure didn’t realize it would be that bad!

That is very possible. Think of how some makes and models of cars are very subject to headlight lens “fogging” after just a few years, and how other makes and models don’t seem to be subject to that same problem. Different manufacturers=different specifications.

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My sister borrowed our toyota, maybe not the best driver, the car kept beeping at me! Lane alert, has backup camera etc. she still managed to back into a trailer hitch my guess and bumper cover is now blemished. $800 or so I think to replace, fuggett about it. Pretty minimal really but black creases showing up under the silver color.

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The bumper cover is exactly that, a cover for the bumper. It’s not meant to absorb impacts.

Think about what a 1977 Ford looked like, big bumpers sticking out front and rear that were able to absorb a 5 mph impact and bounce back with no body damage. You want those hanging off your car?

But…those big bumpers were more than ugly. They are horribly un-aerodynamic. By moving the bumper closer to the body and then cladding it with a smooth, air-flow-friendly surface, carmakers can improve fuel economy and quiet down the ride. Carmakers also need to save every ounce of weight they can to meet the CAFE fuel standards put out by the government. If making the bumper cover 2 pounds lighter and thinner gets them closer to that goal, they will do it.

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Good explanation. Thank you for that! I’d assumed the change was purely aesthetic, but you have corrected my misperception. I’m guessing you’ve hit the nail on the head, re: lightening the bumper cover to help carmakers meet fuel standards. So I’m glad I posted. It wasn’t just an exercise in venting. I learned something!

There are pedestrian safety standards that vehicle manufactures must adhere to, soft plastic bumpers are necessary on cars.

Most limb injuries occur due to a direct blow from the bumper and the leading edge of the hood. This leads to contact fractures of the femur and the tibia/fibula and damage to the knee ligaments due to bending of the joint. Thus, attempts at reducing these injuries involve reducing the peak contact forces by making the bumper softer and increasing the contact area and by limiting the amount of knee bending by modifying the geometry of the front end of the car.

Pedestrian safety through vehicle design - Wikipedia

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Thank you for this. I hadn’t even considered the impact of bumpers on pedestrians … which is strange, because I walk a fair bit. I will bear that in mind, too!

Having said that, note that our 2008 Honda Civic also has a similar type of soft bumper, and yet as I pointed out earlier, it doesn’t seem nearly as vulnerable to cracking. Granted, there is a four-year difference in the model years of the two cars. Would the standards have changed during that time?

Pedestrian safety is also the primary reason for the absence of hood ornaments on the majority of cars.

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Differences in polyurethane type and shape/design of the bumper covers. The rear bumper cover on your Ford has a lower valance that may be more susceptible to damage.

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I am not sure of the logic behind that. my first thought was it would give you something to hang on to if needed. :wink:

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Anybody here ever been hit by a car?

I have.

I was the deer in the headlights.

image

Tester

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Unless it’s designed to retract or give in an impact it’s going to be impossible to get an ornament past EU pedestrian safety standards.

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My Olds diesel hood emblem was spring loaded. I thought it was to discourage theft. Guess not. Never tested it on any people though. Still have it, mounted and on my desk along with Mr. Peanut and my trench art mortar shell lamp from WW I.

Happy Easter though just to be subversive. Had our first sit down meal at a restaurant in a year. On the patio of course. Ran in to the wife of the guy I worked for in 1964. Said she was locked up for 14 days in the senior home. No one in or out. She was safe but still . . .

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I came here to say this:

The basic explanation is, the lower you’re hit by the moving vehicle, the more likely you’re going to survive. The higher you’re hit, the more likely you’re going to die. By making the bumper out of soft flexible rubber, they can shape it aerodynamically and put it in a low position.

I also want to suggest the OP remove or replace these bumper covers with unpainted bumper covers. When they flex, there will be no paint to crack.

Flex additive in bumper paint is supposed to prevent this kind of cracking, but when you bump into things, and the bumper flexes a lot, that’s too much for the flex additive to handle. Unpainted bumpers would solve that, and they would sort of go with those wheels.

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I’m afraid I have to be a little snide and say that they expect you to be able to drive your car without repeatedly bumping into things, especially something that’s not only hard but also abrasive such as a frozen snowbank.

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I’m afraid I have to be a little snide and say you sound like someone who has never had to maneuver a car between tall snow banks, which, when unfrozen, are usually soft enough not to do any harm. It sounds daunting to me, particularly if the vehicle doesn’t have a backup camera.

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