Picture this: you’ve just had an incredibly hectic day at work, picked the kids up from school, and dropped them off at their various activities. You have about 45 minutes to complete the week’s grocery shopping before grabbing the kids again and heading home to cook dinner.
Your stop at the grocery store doesn’t follow your timeline. You struggle to find even simple items on your list, and there’s a massive line at the check-out as you go to leave. You’re running late, but you have just enough time to pick up the children if you hurry.
Then, as you back from your parking spot, you hear the unmistakable sound of impact, and a jolt is sent through your vehicle. You’ve backed into another car, and not only are you now incredibly late, but you might have to replace your rear bumper.
Here’s a look at what your rear bumper replacement will cost, along with some information on variables that can influence it.
- About Your Bumper
- Is a Bumper Repair Possible?
- Where Do Bumper Replacement Expenses Come From?
- What a Rear Bumper Replacement Costs
- What if There’s Frame Damage?
- Will Insurance Cover Your Rear Bumper Replacement?
- Fixing the Damage Yourself
- Replacing the Bumper Yourself
- Final Thoughts
About Your Bumper
Due to its name, you might expect a bumper to be one of the most durable components on a car. There’s truth to that sentiment, as the bumper exists to protect your vehicle and its occupants in a low-speed collision.
In the past, bumpers had a metal construction, and some would also include chunks of rubber to protect the metal. If you’ve ever ridden in a bumper car at the carnival, you’re aware of how this rubber works.
However, modern vehicle bumpers feature a polycarbonate and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (plastic) cover with a layer of Styrofoam underneath. There are also mounts under the Styrofoam with plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, or steel construction.
There are some scientific reasons for the change, as this new bumper composition does a better job of absorbing the force of a minor collision. Metal bumpers would generally stay in one piece. Still, they would bend and wouldn’t absorb much, if any, energy from the crash.
The issue is that today’s bumpers crack and break with even a slight impact. So, if you back into someone in a parking lot, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking up rear bumper replacement cost information in the near future.
Is a Bumper Repair Possible?
Before all else, it’s a good idea to see if you can repair your bumper. However, it’s worth noting that since bumpers are safety features, you’ll want to make sure its structure isn’t compromised.
Aspects to consider when determining whether to repair or replace your bumper include:
Extent of Damage
When there’s minor damage, such as a scuff or scrape, you can probably just repaint the bumper and continue on your way. In situations where the bumper is cracked, repair might be possible, but you’ll have to sand it down, seal it, fix the damage with a plastic repair material, and then paint it.
The issue is that repairing cracked plastic takes a lot of effort and isn’t a do-it-yourself job for the novice car owner.
If your bumper has severe damage to the plastic, there’s also a good chance the Styrofoam and brackets have damage as well. It might end up costing you less to replace the entire assembly than to inspect and repair every part of your bumper.
In short, it’s possible to repair a bumper with a minor scrape, but other than that, replacement is highly recommended.
Type of Car
Are you driving a luxury, foreign, or otherwise obscure car? If so, you could have issues locating a new bumper and getting the supplies to your local repair shop.
In these situations, you might consider repairing the bumper, even if the damage is moderate, because of the time and expense of sourcing a new one.
You’ll have to speak with your mechanic about any challenges you might have when ordering a new bumper because that can influence the route you take.
The good news is that auto body shops usually have access to the parts for any vehicle that’s widely available in the United States.
Some paint colors, particularly pearl coats or metallic options, are hard to find and challenging to source. If your body shop can’t come up with an exact match, they might have to paint the bumper a slightly different color and then blend the rest of your car with it.
Of course, painting other panels on your car will add to the expense, and you might be better off buying a new bumper directly from the manufacturer if they have any that match the rest of the vehicle.
Outside of a few situations where repair is possible, replacing your bumper is probably your best bet for keeping your car safe and looking great.
Where Do Bumper Replacement Expenses Come From?
Once you determine that it’s in your best interests to replace your rear bumper entirely, it’s a good idea to learn a bit about what factors into the cost.
Buying the Parts
Whether you’re repairing or replacing your bumper, you’ll have to buy some parts.
Of course, the most considerable expense is usually the bumper itself, and because most auto body shops won’t have the exact bumper you require in stock, you’ll probably have to wait for delivery. The good news is that these shops usually have their logistics set up efficiently, so the hope is that you won’t be left waiting for long.
There could be more than the actual bumper involved with the bumper replacement, though, depending on the damage.
For example, in a moderate collision, the plastic bumper could be destroyed, along with the brackets that hold it in place. The Styrofoam could also be compromised, adding to the expense even further.
You might also have to pay for some paint to match the bumper to the rest of your vehicle. The paint will likely be a minor expense, but it’ll surely add to your cost.
Keep in mind that your rear bumper also has your taillights and trim and could have backup sensors and a rear-view camera that will influence the price of replacement. You could see your expenses skyrocket if you’re forced to replace all of those damaged items.
Paying for Labor
Labor is the other expense you’ll be responsible for when replacing your bumper. Any auto body shop you visit will have an hourly rate, and they could also have a minimum number of hours that they’ll charge you for any job.
So, even if you have a minor bumper repair that only takes the technician two hours to complete, the shop might charge you for four hours to make the work worth their while.
There could be a lot of work involved with repairing or replacing your bumper, too, although every job is different.
First, the technician will have to remove the existing bumper to closely inspect it for damage. This step also involves removing your backup camera, sensors, and trim pieces.
If a repair is possible, the job might involve filling and glazing the damage and then sanding it down and filling it with putty. It will then need a paint job, followed by blending the color in with the rest of the car.
Some repairs require a torch to heat and then manually push or pull the dent back into place.
Generally, a bumper repair takes about three days. While the repairperson won’t be working on the car eight hours a day for all three days, there’s probably between six and eight hours of work involved with a bumper repair.
A bumper replacement takes about the same amount of time because it involves removing your bumper, cameras, and sensors. It’s possible to save some money, though, if the new bumper doesn’t require a paint job.
What a Rear Bumper Replacement Costs
Now that you know what you’re paying for, you probably want to know how much your new bumper will cost. The make and model of your vehicle and your location are the main variables that influence your final price.
Cost of Parts
First, you’ll have to consider the price of a new bumper. The good news is that if you drive a newer domestic or widely available imported vehicle, you can find a bumper for a relatively reasonable rate.
The actual plastic bumper cover could cost you somewhere in the $100-400 range. For example, a bumper cover for a 2019 Ford Escape will cost you $250 for a vehicle without park assist and $300 if your SUV has park assist sensors.
In addition to the cover, you’ll have to pick up some new Styrofoam, which is about $150, and new brackets, which could cost you $25 or so.
As a result, if you write off the rear bumper of your 2019 Ford Escape, expect the replacement bumper to cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 when all is said and done.
However, that number is just for the actual bumper. Lights, sensors, cameras, and trim will cost you more on top of that amount. Those devices vary significantly in price, as a new taillight assembly could cost you $250-350 per side, while a new parking sensor could cost about $100.
Remember that foreign or rare vehicles will have far higher replacement part costs, and you could end up waiting for a long time for your components to arrive. It’s also worth noting that your auto body shop might only work with a particular parts dealer, which could influence the prices in either direction.
Of course, that number is only for the parts, as you’ll also be on the hook for the labor expenses.
How Much Labor Costs
If you’ve ever taken your car into the shop, you know that it isn’t cheap. Mechanics and auto body technicians have a lot of overhead, and they pass these expenses to their customers.
We mentioned that your rear bumper replacement would take between four and six hours. Your local auto body shop likely charges between $50 and $100 per hour, so the middle ground would be about $375 in labor costs to replace your bumper.
After adding the cost of the parts to the equation, you’re looking at something in the neighborhood of $875 for a new bumper.
If you need new taillight assemblies, sensors, or backup cameras, though, the price could easily reach $2,000 for your rear bumper replacement.
It could also cost you far less if your auto body shop has a $50 hourly rate, and all you need is a plastic bumper cover.
In the end, the amount of damage and the typical shop rate in your part of the country will determine how much you’ll pay for your new bumper.
What if There’s Frame Damage?
Another aspect that could affect the cost of your rear bumper repair is frame damage. A bent frame is a significant issue that could reduce the value of your car moving forward. It might also make the vehicle undrivable if the damage is substantial enough.
The gist is that bumpers are developed with the purpose of absorbing the energy from low-speed collisions. If you end up in a high-speed crash, there’s a good chance it will destroy the bumper and damage other vehicle components.
Damaging the frame could reduce the car’s value by as much as 70% and might even put you in the market for a new car.
The frame is a structural component, so if it’s significantly bent, the car is no longer safe to operate, and you’ll have to replace the entire vehicle.
Will Insurance Cover Your Rear Bumper Replacement?
Since your rear bumper replacement could cost you $2,000 or more, you’ll want to figure out if your insurance will cover the expense.
The good news is that you’re usually covered as long as you have collision insurance. However, your deductible amount will influence whether you use your policy to cover the damage or pay for it out of pocket.
When you have an insurance policy with a low deductible, like somewhere in the $500 range, you’re probably better off using your insurance coverage. If your deductible is $1,000 or more, you might find yourself paying for the damage yourself.
It’s also important to remember that if the collision was your fault and you use your insurance policy to cover the damages, your premiums will likely increase in the coming years. You’ll probably see your premiums increase by 10-40% for your first at-fault claim, while they could go up by as much as 150% after your second one. You could also lose any no claims discounts or bonuses by going this route.
As a result, you won’t want to automatically use your insurance policy to pay for your rear bumper replacement. Instead, crunch the numbers and come up with a solution that best suits your needs.
Fixing the Damage Yourself
You can repair your rear bumper yourself in some situations when the damage is minor.
First, using a small amount of dry ice in a shallow dent could pop it back into place. The temperature change alters the plastic just enough to get it to regain its shape. A hairdryer can have a similar effect on your bumper, but remember that overheating the plastic can cause the clear coat to melt.
There are repair kits available at many auto parts stores, too, that you can use to fix minor damage. These kits generally sell for about $100 and use suction or glue to attach to the dent in your bumper, allowing you to pull it out.
These methods won’t work in every situation but are worth a try if you’re trying to save on an $800 repair bill.
Replacing the Bumper Yourself
Car owners with extensive auto body experience could attempt to replace the bumper themselves, too. You must know what you’re doing, though, because there are so many components involved, and incorrectly attaching a bracket or the entire bumper is not only dangerous but could also do further damage to your car.
If you go this route, you’ll have to thoroughly inspect the damage before you begin so you know exactly which parts to order.
Naturally, you never want to end up in a collision because there’s always the chance of injury, and your car will undoubtedly end up with some damage. Fortunately, your vehicle has a bumper that will absorb a lot of the energy from a low-speed collision, helping keep you safe.
After damaging your bumper, there’s an excellent chance you’ll have to replace the entire thing because these components have a thin plastic construction. It isn’t the end of the world, though, because the cost is relatively affordable as long as there isn’t any frame damage, and your insurance policy will likely cover it.
Go over your options and make the best decision based on the car’s damage and your budget.