Fleet News

Repair bills 'inflated' by £2 billion a year

Vehicle repair bills are being bumped up by more than £2 billion a year, according to Thatcham.

New research has revealed that the price of repairs is rocketing because of the poor design of many car bumpers, which can result in a 6mph impact writing off a vehicle.

Ten top selling brand new cars were crash tested at the front and rear to assess their bumper performance.

Of the 20 bumpers tested only one was deemed to be “good”, one was “acceptable”, seven were rated “marginal” and 11 “poor”.

The tests found that minor impact could cost over £2,500 to repair among the worst performing vehicles, whereas sturdier vehicles can be fixed for a few hundred pounds.

On the Suzuki Swift, the combined front and rear repair costs following the six mile per hour crashes reached £4,600 worth of damage and would have written the car off.

Other poor performers, with front and rear repairs in excess of £1,350, included the Honda CR-V and Citroen C4 Picasso.

A repair cost of less than £350 was considered “good” and the best tested cars were the Ford S-Max, which rated as ‘good’, and the front of the Toyota Auris which achieved an ‘acceptable’ rating.

Matthew Avery, research manager at Thatcham’s Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, said: “If only motorists could see for themselves the limited protection that some bumper systems are giving their vehicles, they might not buy them in the first place.

“Some designs don’t have a bumper beam at all - just a flimsy plastic covering that looks like a bumper.”

The lack of agreed international design and production protocols mean that bumpers are set at different heights and widths, often leading to a vehicle’s bumper going over or under the other car’s bumper during a collision.

“It is time manufacturers addressed this issue and fitted vehicles with bumpers that bump,” Mr Avery said.

Concerns over the impact of strong bumpers on pedestrians were disproved in the tests, as the best frontal performer, the Auris, has also achieved a top score in the Euro NCAP pedestrian safety tests.

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