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I recently rear-ended another car at about 15mph in my 1992 Saturn SL2.

There is some minor damage that I repaired easily: broken plastic on the horn, non-functioning light, cracks in plastic bumper, broken plastic fasteners.

The more substantial damage is a bent radiator (not leaking) and a bent internal metal bumper. The metal bumper behind the plastic and foam was bent enough that it is cracked halfway through.

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Other than providing protection for collisions, it doesn't seem to be a structural part of the chassis. Is it? What are the consequences of leaving this unrepaired, or a simple repair, like a steel plate over the cracked portion?

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Yes this is a structural part of the vehicle and an integral part of the collision management. It's there for your protection and can significantly change the crash characteristics of the vehicle causing you or your passengers bodily injury. Also not replacing this can effect air bag timing, setting it off on too minor of a collision or not setting it off when it should.

With that being said you should replace it, it may be a bolt on part, if so it's an easy swap and you can get one from a salvage yard or aftermarket collision supplier.

  • Thanks. It seems though I was correct in "Other than providing protection for collisions, it doesn't seem to be a structural part of the chassis." Though I of course understand that collision behavior is no small thing. And FYI, there is no air bag. – Paul Draper Jul 20 '15 at 3:20

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