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Small Cars are Expensive to Repair from Low-speed Fender Benders

One of the top reasons for buying a mini- or micro-car is the inexpensive price. However, these cars can be extremely expensive to repair after a low-speed crash, as seen in recent IIHS findings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested seven mini- and micro-cars for low-speed crash repairs and rated only one acceptable and one marginal. The other five cars were rated as poor. The cars in question (from first to last in rankings) are: smart fortwo, Chevrolet Aveo, MINI Cooper, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, and Kia Rio.

To rate the cars’ bumpers, four tests were performed at parking lot speeds. The IIHS used front, front-corner, rear, and rear-corner tests and the cost to repair to determine the cars final rating. The Kia Rio, which costs a little over $12,000 to buy, racked up a total repair bill of around $9400 after the four tests were performed and had an average repair cost of $2705. The Smart ForTwo performed the best with a total repair bill of around $3300 with an average repair cost of $899.

The IIHS hopes that their new bumper rating system will help buyers make a more informed decision when buying a car as to possible repair costs if the owner does happen to get into an accident. IIHS Senior Vice President Joe Nolan says that bumpers can be designed so there will be no damage in accidents like this. Currently, the U.S. government mandates that bumpers be able to resist a 2.5 mph impact. The standard used to be 5 mph.

“Bumpers can be designed so there’s no damage in these low-speed impacts. At a minimum, repairs should cost less than the typical insurance deductible for a collision, which is $500. This is why we set the benchmark for a good rating at less than $500,” said Nolan. “Damage at this level may be only cosmetic, so consumer may choose not to bother with repairs…When you reach $1000 the bumper isn’t doing its job, and anything $1500 or higher is egregious.”

In addition to this small group of mini- and micro-cars, the IIHS has tested 54 other vehicles and rated another 38 of them as poor. The Smart Fortwo, Ford Focus, and Scion xB are the only cars to earn an acceptable rating and the Chevrolet Aveo is one of fifteen to earn a marginal rating.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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