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Old 13th September 2014, 22:49   #1
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Default Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Today, on my way back from work, I witnessed a minor fender bender taking place where a Swift rear ended a City and the thought struck me that current styling trends of vehicles have rendered the bumper almost useless !!

Bumpers rarely stick out more than an inch past the adjacent body panels on most cars today. This is most likely a side effect of modern styling where the aim is to make the car look like a single block.

The end result is that the bumpers dont carry out their intended purpose as well as they used to. Other than a slight nudge a car is likely to see some damage to the metal panels or trim as well as to the bumper itself because it is so close to the body. As seen with what I witnessed, both cars damaged their bumpers, the City boot lip was bent and the Swift's front grille had a bit broken off

So all that the bumper is doing is providing a cheaper base for replacement as compared to a painted metal part.

I would like to hear what you guys think about it. Is it a conspiracy buy car manufacturers to get more cash inflow for their service station because more parts need to be repaired, replaced or repainted ?


Last edited by GTO : 14th September 2014 at 17:00. Reason: Adding pic :)
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Old 13th September 2014, 22:54   #2
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortis View Post
Today, on my way back from work, I witnessed a minor fender bender taking place where a Swift rear ended a City and the thought struck me that current styling trends of vehicles have rendered the bumper almost useless !!

Bumpers rarely stick out more than an inch past the adjacent body panels on most cars today. This is most likely a side effect of modern styling where the aim is to make the car look like a single block.

The end result is that the bumpers dont carry out their intended purpose as well as they used to. Other than a slight nudge a car is likely to see some damage to the metal panels or trim as well as to the bumper itself because it is so close to the body. As seen with what I witnessed, both cars damaged their bumpers, the City boot lip was bent and the Swift's front grille had a bit broken off

So all that the bumper is doing is providing a cheaper base for replacement as compared to a painted metal part.

I would like to hear what you guys think about it. Is it a conspiracy buy car manufacturers to get more cash inflow for their service station because more parts need to be repaired, replaced or repainted ?
Blame the under 4 meter rule of the Indian Government and also the universal acceptance to make the front and rear bumper safer for pedestrians, in case a car hits them. The bumpers need to be able to absorb the impact of the crash instead of being rigid and made of metal.

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Old 13th September 2014, 22:54   #3
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

What about the government which thinks that incentives to <4 metre cars will solve all the traffic on our roads?
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Old 13th September 2014, 23:06   #4
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Wiki says "The main function of a bumper is to protect the car's body in a slight collision, typically at parking speed". Well as OP mentioned, the same has become almost useless these days and then, don't even get me started on the number of cars running around with saggy and broken bumpers.

IMO the use of bumper guards/protectors can rectify the issue to some extent, but then again, a guard for a 'guard'? Ironical I must say.

Last edited by GTO : 14th September 2014 at 20:30. Reason: Typo
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Old 14th September 2014, 00:20   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortis View Post

Bumpers rarely stick out more than an inch past the adjacent body panels on most cars today. This is most likely a side effect of modern styling where the aim is to make the car look like a single block.

The end result is that the bumpers dont carry out their intended purpose as well as they used to.
I don't know how correct in I am but this is what I think.

Good thought and nice topic. Isn't there any connection to the vehicle design with pedestrian safety, be it bumpers or hood? This should be kept in mind as having a metal bumper will kill a pedestrian if an accident happens.

These are all designed to crumple in case of an collision so that the energy is absorbed. If we have sticking out bumpers the impact action would change.

I remember the SX4 rear bumper to stick out from the boot lid line, rest all cars have minimal bumper.

Anurag.

Last edited by a4anurag : 14th September 2014 at 00:22.
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Old 14th September 2014, 00:32   #6
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If the government rolls out policies to boost small car manufacturing in India, I am certain they didn't think beyond incentives. How the design would get altered, how to claim benefits safety will be disregarded are all things that should be pondered.

I also believe, there's been deliberate design changes to increase accidental repairs. Headlights sticking out awkwardly, tail lamps rolling around etc.
First noticed it at the time the new Alto hit the market. While booking my Ertiga, saw the Alto and felt the lights are going to crack at the slightest bump.
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Old 14th September 2014, 10:50   #7
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

The mentality of emerging Indians consumers still remains that their vehicle should not get damaged in an accident, thats why you will see so many comments here like..."built like a tank", "wow! happy to see that X car suffered less damage than Y car", and, "complains of poor structural build quality after a high speed crash", etc.

You need to evolve your mentality and understand that old fashioned metal bumpers like those found on Ambassador/Fiat Padmini will no longer pass safety tests because value of human life is more important than value of your car! You see, unlike our culture, some cultures believe in progressiveness, even their gods evolve and become modern to adapt with present day reality, which leads them to invent new things and help society to progress, similarly bumpers have evolved and have become part of structure itself - to save you and save the pedestrian.

If you are worried about having to spend money on repair work on your car and dont want your car's bumper to get damaged just DRIVE SAFE.
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Old 14th September 2014, 12:34   #8
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An acquaintance of mine who works for a automobile major in safety department told me that the rear bumper is always more rigid and strong compared to front one. The front bumper is the one which gets impacted in collisions most of the time. Hence in case of a rear ending the car which got rear ended may not suffer major bumper damage compared to the car which rear ended.
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Old 14th September 2014, 12:51   #9
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Bumpers can be made stronger without compromising on pedestrian impact norms. In these days of car making, bumpers and its various attachments by which it is fixed to the vehicle, often comes in for scrutiny to shave off parts which will reduce costs.
Bumper design and collision integrity totally depends on how the bumper is designed by the OEM, for which market.

For example if you inspect bumpers of the early models of Skoda's Fabia sold in India, you fill find the plastic quality as well as the reinforcements to fit it to the body are top class.
Same with the Ford Fiesta (old shape, i.e. Classic) which has a very well thought out bumper design. The rear bumper of the Ford even has a strap holding it to the lower body panel apart from the plastic grippers on the sides.
All these bumpers were designed to pass the U.S. 6mph (10km/hr) parking knocks without getting damaged.
Conversely the SX4 bumpers look huge but pop out at the slightest tap!

So its not the bumpers fault actually! Its more to do with the designers and engineers of the OEM who have been told by their bosses to cut corners to save money!
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Old 14th September 2014, 13:11   #10
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sagarpadaki View Post
An acquaintance of mine who works for a automobile major in safety department told me that the rear bumper is always more rigid and strong compared to front one. The front bumper is the one which gets impacted in collisions most of the time. Hence in case of a rear ending the car which got rear ended may not suffer major bumper damage compared to the car which rear ended.
You might correct there. The rear bumper in my Zen is still the original one that came with the car 18+ years back, even after a minibus played football with my car in a traffic light. Bus driver used a Nano instead of the football and my car ended up being the goalie who saved the penalty kick. Damage to my car was a dent on my boot lid and some paint gone from the rear bumper. I assume that is the modern day pedestrian safety norms in action. Nano's bumper absorbed most of the impact and took the damage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjab View Post
Conversely the SX4 bumpers look huge but pop out at the slightest tap!

So its not the bumpers fault actually! Its more to do with the designers and engineers of the OEM who have been told by their bosses to cut corners to save money!
It need not always be a bad thing that the bumper pops out of the clips at the slightest tap - that prevents it from breaking. The bumpers in my Swift have popped out multiple times when it hit some big stones/slabs on the ground while parking. However, in all these cases, all I had to do was just push bumper clips back into the slot. If it was held more firmly, the bumpers would have broken off along with the clips. So it has proved to be a cost saving measure even for the customer.

Last edited by zenren : 14th September 2014 at 13:16.
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Old 14th September 2014, 13:36   #11
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Default re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Interesting topic

An excerpt from the IIHS website

"Bumpers
They're supposed to limit damage in minor collisions, but many don't."

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/bumpers/qanda

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjab View Post
In these days of car making, bumpers and its various attachments by which it is fixed to the vehicle, often comes in for scrutiny to shave off parts which will reduce costs.
Bumper design and collision integrity totally depends on how the bumper is designed by the OEM, for which market.

So its not the bumpers fault actually! Its more to do with the designers and engineers of the OEM who have been told by their bosses to cut corners to save money!
I too agree that it might not primarily be the fault of the "bumper" it self rather how well it is fixed/attached to the vehicle, upon collision the bumper is supposed to absorb the energy,the bumper system should include energy absorbing mechanisms that soak up the impact using materials such as rubber ,polypropylene foam or plastic honeycomb, Also the there must be some distance between the bumper system and the vehicle's sheet metal. Here the underlying premise is that this system is well fastened to the vehicle, which in reality does not happen.

We all know its common sight to see the bumper ( especially rear ) hanging lose from a vehicle after it was sided by an Auto or a 2 wheeler or another car, the bumpers also easily come off their hooks when your wheel pass over rough roads / big stones etc, that's how lightly some bumpers are fitted.

What the NHTSA says :
Attached Thumbnails
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-nhtsa_bumper.png  

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Old 14th September 2014, 20:45   #12
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

I still can't forget the Fibreglass bumpers of my Cielo. In 15 years of my owning the car, and numerous hits, I never had to replace them, as nothing would happen to them.
Compare that to the cars of today, including my Camry 2008. A minor nudge and they get bruised. And it's not cheap to replace them either, with the paint job being the major cost.
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Old 14th September 2014, 20:55   #13
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

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Originally Posted by Styler View Post
And it's not cheap to replace them either, with the paint job being the major cost.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortis View Post
Is it a conspiracy buy car manufacturers to get more cash inflow for their service station because more parts need to be repaired, replaced or repainted ?
Repainting is usually double the cost of a new unpainted bumper.

And we - the consumers are to blame - with our penchant for asking for everything to be painted in the body colour - bumpers, ORVMs, spoilers et al.

These days, majority of consumers have oodles of disposable income, and probably attach greater value to aesthetics over functionality.

So, do you see Innova taxis (E-type) or Indica taxis go around in body coloured bumpers? - No right?
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Old 15th September 2014, 00:11   #14
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Hate to re-use this pic, but it is all the more relevant here IMO -

The first thing these companies sacrifice for making the vehicle sub-4m complaint is the bumpers. It is not just limited to compact sedan - but even premium hatchbacks like the new Elite i20 for example.

Here's a case of the compact sedans - Spot the bumper if you can.
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-compact-sedans_new.jpg
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Old 15th September 2014, 09:56   #15
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Default Bumper covers

What we call as "Bumpers" car manufacturers abroad call them as "Bumper covers" because the real bumper is the metal beam with energy absorbing deformable foam/plastic pieces on it which sits behind the plastic bumper cover.

In INDIA that metal cross beam is present in all vehicles, but not all manufacturer provides the energy absorbing deformable plastic/foam pieces which goes behind the bumper cover and on the metal beam. Some manufactures do provide that on some models India.

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Foreign Swift - With deformable energy absorbing pieces behind bumper (cover)
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-p4020686.jpg
Foreign Swift - Another angle to show the thickness of the energy absorber
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-7howtoremovethefrontfenderfromasuzukiswiftlookmanofender.jpg
Indian Swift - With NO energy absorbing piece behind bumper (cover)
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-20140906_142954.jpg

PS: Images sourced through google images.

Last edited by Sankar : 15th September 2014 at 10:03.
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