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Black Bumpers

Why do all new cars have painted bumpers. How halfbaked can you get?
 (+19, -1) [vote for, against]

The idea behind a bumper is to be able to bump into things when you are parallel parking, etc., without scratching the paint on your car. They are not really for safety. If they were, they would be built for more than 5 miles per hour, and yet all of the new cars have bumpers that are painted. So, you get the corners of your car all scratched up. Why don't we just bo back to the black rubber bumpers?
 — Vecini, Jan 13 2001

 Actually, part of the reason bumpers get so banged up is that they are built for safety. According to my physics teacher, cars used to be built with spring-steel bumpers; unfortunately, in a 35mph collision you'd end up with cars that were undamaged externally but had killed or seriously injured their occupants.

 Imagine you're in a car going 30mph and you encounter a brick wall. If the front of the car is elastic, this means the car will very soon be heading backward at about 20mph while you are still heading forward at 30mph. You will then hit the dashboard or seatbelt very painfully before you find the front of you traveling rearward at 20mph while your organs are still traveling forward at 30mph. Not good.

 Of course, it seems bumpers have undergone three transitions:

 -1- can come through a crash without damage, but don't protect well

 -2- get somewhat damaged in a crash, but no more so than necessary to protect the occupants of the car

 -3- designed to maximize damage in a crash, without enhancing protection at all compared with #2

Perhaps some automaker will tell me my assessment #3 is unfair. But I see no way that mounting lights on a bumper enhances the crash safety of a car, while it ensures that any damage will destroy the lights.

Not to mention the fact that most people don't need driving lights and nobody uses them correctly anyway...they're all aimed to blind people coming toward them.
 — StarChaser, Jan 14 2001

why does my black painted bumper always scratch white?
 — raisin, Jan 16 2001

I have a 1992 Renault 5 and it has black (now grey!) bumpers. I like the fact that I can 'bump park' knowing that only the more modern/expensive cars will be damaged and my trusty motor remains cool, calm and collected.
 — m_g_m_jones, Jan 17 2001

I have black bumpers on my Jeep and although I don't "bump park", I appreciate the fact that very few scratches show...mostly from shopping carts at the grocery. Also, I'm really hope that m_g_m_jones lives really far away..."bump park"!!! Where'd you learn to drive????
 — chili2k, Jan 17 2001

it would be really nice, too, if bumper hight were standardized so when you nudge someone at a stoplight it wouldn't do much damage...
 — Urania, Jan 19 2001

Speaking as a pedestrian, it doesn't really matter to me whether your bumper's painted or not. It still bloody hurts! Now if you all had comfy rubber cow-catchers on the front of your tin boxes, that would be a lot better.
 — DrBob, Jan 19 2001

supercat- I'll review your whole paragraph in a sentence: It's the difference between hitting a brick wall and a pillow
 — AfroAssault, Apr 07 2001

This is why we know have cars like the ford KA look awful but big bumpers taht can be replaced sectionaly.
 — lost_not_Found, May 30 2001

Half the answer to the bumper question is to have an SUV with its' spare tire attached to the back. Yesterday a small Mercedes rear-ended my Suzuki Grand Vitara at about 20 mph. All that happened to the SUV was that there's a small tear in the cover of the spare. The hood of the Mercedes, however, was badly smashed and it will probably cost him thousands to have it repaired. Now all I have to do is figure out a way to attach a spare to my front bumber.
 — Plehu, Jul 26 2001

Simple solution to this problem - use 'reactive' bumpers filled with high explosives. You bump into something - the bumpers explode - and the thing you bumped into is GONE. Hence - no in car injuries... you just keep driving... the obstacle is removed.
 — gorn_the_blastoid, Jul 26 2001

In my high school engineering class, we had to build cars that would contain an egg. The cars would then be dropped down a ramp in to the wall. One of my class mates rigged up a catapault system, so when the car hit the wall, the egg shot straight up in the air. I think now he is either working for either Ford or Bridgestone/Firestone.
 — EvoketheTiger, Jul 26 2001

 //she proposed they keep them painted for the auto mechanics to make money fixing them!//

 Exactly. Probably the same reason why they put lights on the bumper, as mentioned by supercat.

 //if the collision were elastic, you'd be going backwards at exactly the same speed as you were going forwards.//

Not in the real world where there's things like friction.
 — PotatoStew, Jul 26 2001

I was recently talking to a body-shop guy who told me that he was dealing with a Jaguar which had been rear-ended. There was slight, but un-mendable, damage to the bumper, so he replaced it at a cost of £1,200 for the part (that's about \$1,700 US) plus five hours labour.
 — angel, Jul 27 2001

Perhaps the real opportunity is to create "black rubber" paint. This would allow the option of converting our impractically painted bumpers. Easily touched-up and a thick coating could avoid the need for touch-up altogether.
 — jamesgiii, Nov 06 2001

I have just aquired a 1988 Renault 5 with the black bumpers turned white. I rubbed them with a 'scoth brite' dipped in kitchen oil and them buffed it off. They are now black. Try it. My renault has less than 15000 miles on the clock with full service record. acireland
 — acireland, Aug 02 2004

I was recently rear ended by one of them new F-250's or Chevy equivalent. it was only a 5 to 10 mph crash and the end result was that my all steel bumper was slightly bent (didn't even notice it until much later) while the new trucks front bumper had curled back so far it was rubbing on one of the front wheels! I think that while "crumple zones" have their uses, car manufactures use it as an excuse to build ever cheaper vehicles and that's not ok. As for the post my jalopy comes with a rubber strip that runs all the way around it to protect the chrome and paint, not that there is anything worth protecting to speak of but still nice to have that extra bit of protection.
 — Spaceman Spiff, Apr 25 2009

 Some 5 year old waiting at a crosswalk with a crossing-guard swung his foot into the air over the road and I hit the binders reflexively (got no qualms about that), causing the guy behind me to plow into me. The damage was:

 other car (1997 VW): driver's side front completely done in: fender, hood, headlights, bumper, turn signals on that side just turned into crumpled tinfoil.

my car (1982 Audi): scrape on the bumper which I rubbed out with a bit of spittle and my thumb at the Accident Reporting Centre, and another streak which I actually thought was real damage but turned out to be paint from the other car... which I removed with my fingernail.
 — FlyingToaster, Apr 25 2009

"way back when" they had "5mph bumpers" in front of the regular bumper: solid rubber blocks mounted through the bumper onto the pistons; these minimized car vs. car (mostly)cosmetic damage at parking lot speeds.
 — FlyingToaster, Apr 25 2009

...and could somebody note that [Brandon Mitchell] is a spammer ?
 — FlyingToaster, Feb 11 2011

[Brandon Mitchell] has provided an, admittedly evil, service in bringing some old ideas to the fore - which makes him a Black Bumper, I suppose. Nonetheless, I would favour the deletion of his account, or the publication of his home address, if someone can find it.
 — spidermother, Mar 10 2011

Where is [junta] when needed. This is getting way out of hand.
 — WcW, Mar 10 2011

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