What Are Car Bumpers Made Of?

by Ryan Grant
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Although the makeup of car bumpers has changed over the years, this vital component of your vehicle plays an integral role in modern transportation safety. Bumpers protect the vital components on your car by reducing collision damage.


Frederick Simms invented the car bumper in 1901. The first car bumpers were made of metal beams attached to both the front and rear of a car for the purpose of protecting a car in a low-speed collision.


Generally, car bumpers are made of a plastic cover reinforced by a bar made of steel, fiberglass composite, plastic or aluminum. In addition to crushable brackets and a bar, bumpers sometimes incorporate polypropylene foam or formed thermoplastic. These additional components act as spacers between the bumper and bar, not as energy absorbers.


Bumpers protect important equipment on your car such as headlights, taillights, hood and exhaust and cooling systems. These components are all expensive to replace, and a bumper can eliminate or reduce the costs of repairing them.


The attributes of a good car bumper include geometry, energy absorption and stability. These traits allow a bumper to line up flush with an opposing bumper in order to absorb any impact and maintain stability.


While most bumpers have a standard design to protect important components on a car, some are designed for style. This emphasis on style often reduces a bumper's, resulting in decreased effectiveness in resisting damage during a crash.

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