A Used Bumper Guide For The Average Car Owner

It's not every day that you wander around the auto salvage yard looking for used parts (unless you're into that sort of thing, of course). But a minor fender-bender could just as easily land you amongst the metal in search of affordable replacement parts, especially when it comes to bumpers.

Finding a good-quality used bumper can help you save both time and lots of money on replacement and repair. However, it's crucial to know exactly what to look for in a worthy replacement. The following offers a few good tips on unearthing the perfect used bumper for your vehicle.

Why Look for a Used Bumper in the First Place?

Let's face it – brand-new parts cost money, especially when they're brand-new auto body components. According to Cost Helper, a replacement bumper for the average passenger car can cost up to $1,000 or more just for the bumper alone. On more expensive cars, the cost of a new bumper could easily reach $5,000.

Of course, there are aftermarket bumpers available for most vehicles. However, the margin of quality and safety can widely vary among manufacturers. A used OEM bumper can be significantly cheaper than aftermarket or brand-new bumpers. Not only are most used bumpers an exact fit (depending on model year), you'll also get the peace of mind of having an OEM bumper intended specifically for that vehicle's safety requirements.

What to Look For in a Used Bumper

There are several things you'd want to look out for when it comes to shopping for a used bumper.

  • Previous crash damage – If the bumper is already damaged due to a crash or even a minor shunt, chances are that bumper wouldn't be of any use. Look for non-wrecked versions of your vehicle to avoid any nasty surprises. The bumper itself should be as straight and free of any kinks or bent areas. For plastic bumpers, the underlying honeycomb structure must be intact and unaffected by any accident.
  • Cosmetic appearance – Kinks, creases, gouges and dents can all detract from a car's appearance, especially for newer vehicles with well-integrated fasciae. Be prepared to repaint the bumper, if necessary, in order to bring back its original appearance. Be wary of auto body shops and individuals who use plastic fillers to hide imperfections or accidents.
  • Signs of rust and/or corrosion – Rust and corrosion are a metal's worst nightmare. It can also be your worst nightmare if you've bought a bumper with significant signs of rust, especially on structurally important potions of the bumper such as the mounting brackets. Chrome plating can also pit and degrade over time, leading to a weathered and generally unattractive appearance.
  • Year-to-year changes – Two cars of the exact same size and shape can have completely different parts thanks to minor and semi-major vehicle revisions. It's crucial to get the exact parts number for your vehicle, as these changes can easily result in purchasing the wrong part for your vehicle.  

What You Can Do

Fortunately, it doesn't take much to find a used car bumper that's in excellent condition. Simply keep the following in mind as you look:

  • Only look for rust-free examples (if you're not comfortable with dealing with surface rust) or bumpers with a small amount of rust and/or corrosion. If you have the right tools, you can grind or sand away rust-prone areas for eventual repainting or re-chroming.
  • Check the outer and inner areas of the bumper for any cracks, dents or other types of damage. If there's very light damage on the bumper cover, then you can use touch-up paint to keep the flaw hidden from plain view.
  • Check the mounting points and make sure they're solid and rust-free. Make sure they're not bent or rusted through.
  • Always have the right part number on hand for your bumper. In many cases, you can trace this through the vehicle identification number (VIN)

With these tips, you can find the right bumper for your vehicle with relative ease. For more information, contact a local used auto parts company, like Bionic Auto Parts.