Like a real foot soldier, the bumper bravely faces the impact and absorbs much of the crash energy during a low-speed collision. Though badly disfigured or scratched, it is able to successfully minimize the damage that the hood or trunk and the rest of the vehicle could have suffered. It protects the grille, automotive lights, exhaust, fuel system, and even some parts of the engine.
The bumper not only gives the vehicle a more distinct look and tougher exterior. It also acts as a shield, another layer of defense. In doing so, it suffers the most damage. Fortunately, it can be easily repaired depending on the extent of the damaged or even replaced. The old one can be upgraded if you want better ground clearance, a sportier, more stylish look to your vehicle, enhanced aerodynamics, or sturdier front or rear exterior.
Bumpers come in different styles and designs. You also have to be familiar with the different materials used in bumpers to pick a perfect match to your car and to your needs and expectations.
Standard vs. custom bumper
Mass-market vehicles are outfitted with standard bumpers. These may come with a frame made of fiberglass or metal or may be painted or plastic-covered. As a safety feature, they come with an energy absorbing system. They may be designed with brackets or a foam cushioning material. Standard designs may change overtime due to evolving federal requirements and issues concerning overall car safety, fuel economy, production cost, and aerodynamics.
Custom bumpers, on the other hand, are modified for increased safety or improved styling. They may come with grilles, guards, and other accessories and may be equipped with integrated automotive lights like fog lamps. Some of these are manufactured for increased aerodynamics or reduced air drag. They can be custom painted according to the car owner's specifications. Other modifications may also be included.
Types of bumper in terms of material used
Bumpers not only come in different styles and design but also in different materials. Here's a short guide:
Plastic bumpers are the least expensive in the bunch, as they're easier to manufacture. Unfortunately, they may crack easily due to impact from collision.
The best thing about aluminum bumpers is that they're light. As such, they reduce overall vehicle weight, which can lead to better fuel economy.
Bumpers made of carbon fiber are known for their high resistance to impact. Although they're light, they're still durable. They're quite expensive, so they're often found in high-end vehicles. This material is also commonly used in custom bumpers.
Fiberglass is also light and durable. But unlike carbon fiber bumpers, fiberglass options aren't that pricey. They can be repaired and painted easily. However, it's not as flexible as plastic.
Steel bumpers are known for their strength. They can withstand impact better than other materials. Unfortunately, they can be very heavy.
Getting a new bumper
Shopping for a new bumper? Aside from the design and material, you have to pay attention to other important details like the fit and location (front or rear). Make sure that it will fit snugly into the vehicle, preferably without requiring modification. Also take note of the finish. Do you want it in chrome, in primered finish, or painted? Remember that the best deals not only come in a reasonable price but also with a good warranty.