Whatever happen to bumpers?

Whatever happen to bumpers?

Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 15th, 2010, 1:30 am #1

About 1970 I was a little slow braking and bump the car in front of me at a stop sign. The other driver and I got out of our cars to inspect them. Fortunately our chrome-plated steel bumpers had absorbed the impact with no discernible damage so we agreed no harm done and got back in our cars and that was the end of it.

Recently the same thing happen to my daughter. Her 2008 Mazda barely bumped the rear of a pickup truck at maybe 2-miles a hour. Damage? $1600! You see many new cars don't have bumpers so any impact is absorbed totally by the car body- which being thin sheet metal and fiberglass and can't withstand even the most minor impact with extensive- and expensive damage.

Bumpers were once strong utilitarian devices design to withstand minor accidents with little or no damage. Then over the years bumpers became ever more weaker and decorative things until they have completely disappeared from many cars so now even the most minor accident cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars to repair- and I've yet to hear an explanation why.
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Bob
Bob

May 17th, 2010, 2:32 am #2

I agree that most car bumpers today are little more than decoration. I'm guessing that reduced cost for manufacturers and reduced weight (to help fuel mileage) are major considerations. I have had similar experiences where minor damage cost $1,000 or more to repair. I said, "$1,000! For what?!" A car that my son wrecked would have just been written off as a total loss by the insurance company, as the repairs cost more than the car was worth. Fortunately, a co-worker of mine repaired the car and it still runs . . 6 years later!

One time, I got a repair estimate from a body shop that does most of its business with Lexus dealerships. Suffice to say that their price estimate did nothing more than elicit a gasp from me!

I would think that one thing our move to a "green" world would entail is getting back to making products that are durable and can be repaired rather than always throw away. Tough bumpers would help, but I doubt we will go back to making car bodies heavy enough to sand and repaint. Paper-thin is here to stay.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 17th, 2010, 6:31 am #3

I would gladly pay a little more in gas to have bumpers that were once again functional! I'm sure they would save money in the long haul with reduce repair bills.

But so much of the way cars are built today makes even minor repairs complicated and expensive. Now a days you have to practically dissemble the dashboard to change a dial light.

I was sad to see my mechanic of some 15 years retire. He was one of the few I would trust to do a honest and competent repair. But he said that cars have just become too complicated and difficult to repair for a independent mechanic to survive these days.
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Cool beans boi
Cool beans boi

May 17th, 2010, 4:45 pm #4

A local TV station did a report on this topic. They tested a 1982 Escort against a new Ford Focus at a 5 MPH test. The old Escort was unscathed, tne new Focus sustained $1,200 worth of damage. It seems the new cars only are built for 3 MPH not 5 like the old ones were. Appartantly the old bumbers were too heavy and "too ugly". Well, I think a shattered bumber is much uglier than the old Escort's metal and shock absorber look!
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Bob
Bob

May 17th, 2010, 5:57 pm #5

I owned a 1982 Escort and remember it well -- the "World Car", they called it. I think the bumpers were at least adequate. The thing that stands out to me, looking back, is that the car didn't like starting in cold weather (I think the smaller Fords from that era all shared that characteristic). I would have to crank a few times to get it to start in cold weather 9say, 10-20 degrees F), and in really cold weather (0 and below), it might not start at all. Then, when it started, the idle was very shaky until a couple of minutes passed and the oil was circvlating good. Otherise, I liked the car. I would just have advised anyone to garage it during the winter months so that it would start OK.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 18th, 2010, 4:20 am #6

I agree that most car bumpers today are little more than decoration. I'm guessing that reduced cost for manufacturers and reduced weight (to help fuel mileage) are major considerations. I have had similar experiences where minor damage cost $1,000 or more to repair. I said, "$1,000! For what?!" A car that my son wrecked would have just been written off as a total loss by the insurance company, as the repairs cost more than the car was worth. Fortunately, a co-worker of mine repaired the car and it still runs . . 6 years later!

One time, I got a repair estimate from a body shop that does most of its business with Lexus dealerships. Suffice to say that their price estimate did nothing more than elicit a gasp from me!

I would think that one thing our move to a "green" world would entail is getting back to making products that are durable and can be repaired rather than always throw away. Tough bumpers would help, but I doubt we will go back to making car bodies heavy enough to sand and repaint. Paper-thin is here to stay.
Well if you study the evolution of car design you notice that they started out a purely practical- there was nothing fancy or decorative about the bumpers or the headlights or the fenders or anything else. Then over the years aesthetics became a ever bigger factor in car design. I think this reach ridiculous extremes in the late 1950s with the huge tail-fins, miles of chrome and rocket-shaped front-ends.

. . . . . . . .

As much as I'm nostalgic for this era even I have to admit that designers just got totally carried away.



Today I think we have gone to the other extreme with mostly bland unimaginative cars that are neither inspiring or especially practical.

Take headlights for example. I thought headlight design reach its pinnacle with the inexpensive easy to replace seal-beam headlight assembly. You could walk into any auto parts store and buy a replacement for a few dollars. There was only a few variations because headlights were then universal items and would fit many different models. And it took only a screwdriver and a few minutes to change one.

Today- headlights come in a multitude of different designs which are integral to the body. Changing them is complicated as you have to replace the bulb inside and the replacement bulb is expensive and fragile and must be handled carefully (just getting fingerprints on them will cause them to fail prematurely). Such is "progress".

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Marseil
Marseil

May 18th, 2010, 9:28 am #7

A local TV station did a report on this topic. They tested a 1982 Escort against a new Ford Focus at a 5 MPH test. The old Escort was unscathed, tne new Focus sustained $1,200 worth of damage. It seems the new cars only are built for 3 MPH not 5 like the old ones were. Appartantly the old bumbers were too heavy and "too ugly". Well, I think a shattered bumber is much uglier than the old Escort's metal and shock absorber look!
I understand the theory about car security totally changed over time.

A few decades ago, the idea was to make big bumpers in the hope they'd protect car occupants in case of shock. Then it has been demonstrated that the bumpers were more resistant than the car structure itself, thus passengers were crashed behind undamaged bumpers.

Now, vehicle safety is seen as a whole, the front and back parts of the cars (including bumpers) are deformable, and the car interior, where occupants sit, is as undeformable as possible.

More info here:http://www.euroncap.com/home.aspx

I'm really not concerned by car looks, but more by arriving safely at destination.

Marseil.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 18th, 2010, 1:29 pm #8

Yes, this is true, but this doesn't prevent using decent bumpers to provide some car-body protection in the event of low-speed impacts.
Low-speed (below 10 mph) is all bumpers were ever intended to handle. Furthermore, bumpers can be designed to be energy-absorbing as well- mounted on springs or fluid shock-absorbers.

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Joined: May 9th, 2005, 12:05 pm

May 19th, 2010, 12:14 pm #9

Well if you study the evolution of car design you notice that they started out a purely practical- there was nothing fancy or decorative about the bumpers or the headlights or the fenders or anything else. Then over the years aesthetics became a ever bigger factor in car design. I think this reach ridiculous extremes in the late 1950s with the huge tail-fins, miles of chrome and rocket-shaped front-ends.

. . . . . . . .

As much as I'm nostalgic for this era even I have to admit that designers just got totally carried away.



Today I think we have gone to the other extreme with mostly bland unimaginative cars that are neither inspiring or especially practical.

Take headlights for example. I thought headlight design reach its pinnacle with the inexpensive easy to replace seal-beam headlight assembly. You could walk into any auto parts store and buy a replacement for a few dollars. There was only a few variations because headlights were then universal items and would fit many different models. And it took only a screwdriver and a few minutes to change one.

Today- headlights come in a multitude of different designs which are integral to the body. Changing them is complicated as you have to replace the bulb inside and the replacement bulb is expensive and fragile and must be handled carefully (just getting fingerprints on them will cause them to fail prematurely). Such is "progress".
That's a good point about the headlights. On my car, I was attempting to change the headlamp and the little clip that holds it in place was very difficult to get back on. A little too much pressure and something snapped. A $200 repair bill. I'm more careful now. But there still isn't much room for your hand.

I'm please to see people saying good things about the Ford Escort. I think writers have been biased against American cars. A good thing on a Japanese car is somehow a bad thing on an American car. Did you ever read praise from an automobile writer about the Escort? Mine almost made it to 200,000 miles before someone driving a Lexus rammed into it while it was parked in the driveway in front of the house. And everything you say about the bumpers was true. It was tested three times and was virtually undamaged. The plastic you see was not the bumper.

But even the old Volvos were not perfect. We had our first Volvo Wagon, bought new, for 18 years. Yet we went through about a dozen mufflers. We have two more wagons now and the one I drive to work I've had for only four years, so I imagine it's the last car I'll ever own.
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Bob
Bob

May 19th, 2010, 5:35 pm #10

I've owned two Volvos -- a 1984 240 and a 1989 740. I still own the latter car . . 205 thousand miles and (as noted) my son wrecked it twice. I like Volvos. The worst part is the repair costs. The parts are very high cost and then there is the labor. But really, most any car is expensive to repair these days. I used to say that you couldn't see a mechinic without it costing $500. Now I say that you can't see a mechanic without it costing $800-$1000!
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