What caused minor damage like this? (a fender bender forensics question)

What is the chance that the damage of this tear to the bumper of this Chevy Equinox was caused by something other than impact of a single event? Does it look like the driver hit something or did something hit the bumper? Could it be from a manufacturing defect, ice or wind? It seems like it was an accidental tear that started from the diamond that was intentionally cut out of the bumper.

Not enough info to make a determination.

First, why do you want to know? Second what year is the car? Third, did you buy it used? Fourth, what does it look like behind the bumper?

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I think he hit a possum.

The tear in the bumper cover was cause by an impact. There are stress marks below the tear from the impact, also the paint on the tow hook cover was chipped during the collision.


@CarSherlock What do you plan to do with the replies to this question ?

I had the rental car for less than one week, and I never hit anything. The 2020 SUV had over 20,000 miles. I don’t know what it looks like behind the bumper.

How can you tell the paint on the tow hook was chipped during the collision? I’m not sure that there was a collision. The diamond-shape cut may cause weakness in that part of the bumper. Over years I think the tear could have gotten worse.

I don’t know if I should refuse to pay the rental car company for a new bumper when I was careful and did not hit anything.

You are going to pay for damages or your vehicle insurance will . The vehicle could have been hit while it was parked and you were not there.

You signed the rental agreement to return the vehicle in the same condition it was when you rented it End of story .


Prior damage to the vehicle must be documented before you accept the vehicle, otherwise you will be responsible for the damage. It does not matter if you caused the damage or if it occurred while the vehicle was parked, you must return the vehicle undamaged.


Yeah that’s a crack not a tear. Weak spot due to that opening. Someone ran into it. Plastic does that when it is hit. If the bill is under $2000, be happy. Did you inspect the car before taking it?

Then “something” hit the vehicle, probably while it was parked.

You can refuse, but they will put the charge for that damage on the credit card that you used to rent the vehicle.

In case the OP hasn’t yet read the full text of the rental agreement–including all of the fine print–he/she is responsible for any damage that was not noted by him/her before driving away from the rental agency–unless he/she opted for “extra” insurance.

I use the term “extra” because his/her regular car insurance company might have a clause in the policy covering damage to rental cars. Or, alternately, one’s credit card might extend some coverage. But, the bottom line is that the rental company is not going to waive the fee for this damage.

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Yeah that extra includes the lost rent while it’s in the shop too.

And some rental companies charge for days while repairs are being made. Some credit cards have the benefit of rental insurance, check with yours! I think when it was bumped the broken piece chipped the paint on the cover as it stops at the crack line.

You mentioned ice so I am guessing you’re in a cold climate area right now. plastic bumpers crack easier in temps below 32 degrees.
my daughter had her new car parked in our driveway one winter night.
a snowplow driver came flying down the road plowing the street. he kicked the snow and ice 10 feet up our driveway hitting my daughter’s rear bumper. it put a huge crack in her bumper. so, a very slight tap from another vehicle in a parking lot can cause that damage. especially if temps are below freezing.

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It’s very easy for the front bumper area of newish cars – designed to be very low to ground to improve fuel economy – to inadvertently bump into those cement curbs in parking lots when parking. And that part is usually pretty flimsy so easy to break and easy to not even notice when it occurs.

Last time I rented a Corolla, that is the feature I considered the major design downside compared to my own older higher-bumper Corolla.

Yes, but despite what the picture looks like, it was very hard to see. They had to point it out to me twice before I actually saw it. It was freezing outside, so I didn’t crouch down and do a very thorough inspection. I don’t blame myself for not seeing it because you could easily miss it.

Does anyone know what is the diamond-shape cut in the bumper for?

For towing. Remove the plug and screw in a tow hook.

Yeah just a cover but creates a weak point instead of spreading the impact over a larger area. I don’t blame you for not doing a thorough inspection. Most people don’t. In a hurry and they rush you along. It’s very possible it was already there, maybe several rentals ago.