Tips For Novice Car Buyers: How To Tell If A Used Car Has Major Bumper Damage

Automotive Articles

Although most used vehicles have some mechanical issues to fix due to age or wear and tear, you don't want to buy a used car with major structural damage to its bumper. Frame damage in the bumper can cause serious mechanical problems in the engine of a car. In addition, this type of damage isn't always easy to spot, especially if the bumper has a plastic or rubber covering over it that bounces back after another vehicle runs into it. But there are some things you can look or listen out for as a novice car buyer to keep from purchasing a car with bumper damage.

How Does a Bumper Receive Hidden Damage?

A bumper is the metal piece in the back of a car that protects the frame from damages and backseat passengers from injuries. It absorbs the impact caused by rear-end accidents. Most cars have a plastic or rubber piece placed over the bumper. This piece acts as a shock absorber during vehicular impacts to help reduce damages to the cars' bumper. In a number of cases, the plastic or rubber housing can "bounce" back into place after an accident.

If the car you want to buy has a damaged bumper, there are some common engine problems you can spot right away. For example, if the car has an oil leak from a rear-end accident, it might rattle or shake when it runs. If the car has transmission problems, the car might shift or skip gears when you put it into drive. However, there are some engine problems you may not notice upfront because they lie deep within the engine itself.

These problems may include:

A Misplaced Engine

When an engine moves out of place, it can eventually affect the performance of the car. The engine usually moves or shifts out of place when another vehicle rams into the bumper and causes the car to lurch forward and back violently.

A Leak Around the Head Gasket

The head gasket is the part of the car that makes sure oil and coolant stay separated in the engine. It also makes sure fuel reaches the engine's pistons, which basically fire up the car to help it run. A bad or blown head gasket won't seal in or out fluids, nor will it help cool the car.

An Oil Leak Inside the Engine

Any type of oil leak can be very dangerous – especially if it happens inside an engine without holes. The confined oil can cause a fire inside the engine if it becomes too hot during certain conditions. For instance, the confined fluids may cause the engine to get extremely hot during the summer. Oil should stay cool enough to lubricate and protect the engine, but if you drive in very hot conditions, the heat can place stress on the engine and make the oil work harder to keep it cool. Because the hot oil can't leave the engine or receive air to cool it down, it may catch fire.

To avoid any of the above problems, you can look out for some things that may save you money and headaches.

What Should You Look Out For?

A car that has silent engine problems due to a damaged bumper might:

  • Be slow to accelerate when you drive on the road: A car that has transmission problems due to a bad engine can take its time accelerating when you want to go faster on the road.
  • Look uneven in the rear: One side of the car may look lower or higher than the other side. This can happen when another vehicle pushes the metal bumper piece up or down during an accident.
  • Vibrate: This sign may be barely noticeable until you drive the car on long distance trips, such as an interstate or highway. The faster you go, the more violently the car vibrates.

The best way to note these types of problems is to keep the vehicle's radio and air conditioner off when you test-drive it on a highway or interstate. The music and blowing air can distract you from hearing or feeling changes in the car as it accelerates, slows down or stops.

If you really want to buy the car, you should have an auto body technician remove the plastic covering from the bumper and examine it. He or she can tell you if the bumper has experienced a major dent or hit in the metal. If the damage is minor, your technician can easily repair or replace the bumper.

Visit to learn more about auto body damage and repairs. 


17 November 2014