Your car bumper does more than complete your vehicle’s overall look and aesthetic. When installed correctly, your bumper should absorb shock and minimize damage to the rest of your car. During a low-speed collision, your bumper will protect your fuel, trunk, and exhaust system, saving you thousands of dollars in repairs.
But your bumper isn’t invincible.
Every dent, scratch, and ding weakens your bumper’s performance. When that fender bender or hit-and-run does occur, your bumper may lack the strength to withstand the impact.
While some damage may be inevitable, you can take precautionary steps that baby your bumper. The following tips can help you avoid potentially damaging situations while you navigate busy streets and parking lots.
1. Look for Empty Areas and Corner Spaces
A majority of bumper damage occurs when the car isn’t moving. Just because you’ve parked your car and left for the day doesn’t mean your vehicle will remain in the same shape you left it. Distracted drivers and poor visibility make parking lots a prime environment for dents and scratches.
For maximum protection, park as far away from other vehicles as you can. Although you may have to walk a few minutes more, fewer drivers will be willing to travel the same distance, so you can rest easy knowing that your vehicle is safe.
If the parking lot looks fairly full, try to pull into a space at the end of a row where the curb, plantings, or island provide some protection.
2. Learn to Parallel Park
When you want to avoid bumper damage, parallel parking may seem counterintuitive. If you reverse a few inches too far, you’ll undoubtedly hear that telltale crunch of your bumper crumbling. And if you pull too far forward, you can assume that the vehicle in front of you will leave its mark as well.
But surveys show that most drivers hate parallel parking, and nearly 15% of them will refuse to parallel park at all. Almost 47% of drivers would rather walk farther distances in an effort to avoid parallel parking.
With almost half of drivers avoiding parallel parking spaces, you significantly reduce your chances of suffering damage when you parallel park. Only the brave few will park near your vehicle, and these individuals are likely just as worried about bumper damage as you, so they’ll give you plenty of space if they can.
3. Avoid Cart Return Areas
When you shop for groceries or run errands near a mall, you may want to load and unload your newly purchased items as quickly as possible. If you park near a cart return, you only have to travel a few feet to drop off your cart and be on your way.
But shopping carts can inflict a great deal of damage, especially when careless shoppers are involved. Not everyone will take the time to carefully place their cart in the return slot, and many will simply shove the cart in that general direction and ignore the smashing results.
To save your bumper, choose spaces further away from cart returns, and try to find a place to park uphill. Many supermarket parking lots have a slight slope, and gravity can pull loose shopping carts toward your vehicle.
4. Invest in a Rear Camera
Your side and rearview mirrors can help you spot larger objects behind your vehicle. With a quick glance, you know if a tree, street lamp, or car blocks your path, and you can maneuver your car to avoid them.
But your mirrors don’t show you everything, and smaller objects (such as a child, pet, or toy) may find their way behind your vehicle without your knowledge. If you don’t check and double-check the back of your vehicle, you may accidentally run over a large curb, deep pothole, or sports bike.
A rear camera can give you the extra visibility you need to reverse your car with confidence. In fact, studies estimate that back-up cameras have helped approximately 57% of drivers avoid accidents and subsequent bumper damage to their vehicle.
Talk to a Mechanic About a Replacement Bumper
When you follow these tips, you can avoid a number of dents and scratches in your bumper. However, vandalism, accidents, and extreme weather can still leave your bumper in poor condition. If your bumper looks a little a little worse for wear, stop by your mechanic for repairs and replacement.