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Is it possible to use impact damage on a car to identify the probably make(s)/model(s) of the other vehicle involved in the collision? For instance, say you have a car that has a pretty good imprint of another car, such as:

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Which seems to include a fairly clear outline of the bottom edge of the other vehicle's bumper:

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Given this contour and the height of the impact site(s), is it possible to work out which vehicles might have caused this damage and if so what are the most likely candidates?

  • Is this a hit and run case? Even if you get close, how'd you get their license plate? – Numair Aidroos Jul 13 '17 at 1:14
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    I've only seen that done on CSI. But I guess any thing is possible – cano Jul 13 '17 at 2:06
  • @NumairAidroos - Yes, hit and run. Someone rear-ended the wife's car and then drove off. That's not their plate, it's hers. – aroth Jul 13 '17 at 2:56
  • You will have to predict the deformation of your rear bumper to then work out the resulting profile and work from there, also consider that they were, hopefully braking so the suspension was compressed and the free height is greater. Extremely difficult, unless it was a Landrover Defender : solid straight bumper :) which it isn't. Best chance : report it to the police and say the location : you may be lucky with a camera catching it, Big Brother remember (but you may know about that :) ) – Solar Mike Jul 13 '17 at 4:16
  • What I mean is even if you get the make and model, how will you get that car's license plate number? – Numair Aidroos Jul 13 '17 at 6:22
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First off sorry to hear about it, that totally sucks! Your best bet is to call the police if you haven't already. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime.

Contour-wise it's theoretically possible to figure this out, but extremely difficult even if all the information is available. A 3D map of the damage would have to be created, and then run through some sort of computer based modeling software which would determine the possible shape of the offending car based on estimates of collision speed, direction and the deformation mechanics of your car's bumper materials. That would then produce an approximate 3D shape of the object that hit your car, which would then be matched to a database of car shapes to find candidate cars, presuming such a database exists. A method such as this could come up with many candidates, and would require a great deal of expertise in computer science - not to mention special equipment. It's unlikely anyone would do this for a simple hit and run with nobody hurt.

From a forensics perspective it's more likely something could be done with paint transfer, at least to get a color. That's not trivial exercise either, so again not something the police are likely to do.

More likely you'll have someone familiar with accident damage look and be able to rattle off the cars it was likely to have been. People whose job it is to analyze traffic accidents all day get a nose for these things.

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