A layman who doesn’t know much about vehicles would probably find it confusing when they encounter the term “bumper cover.” Is it different from a bumper? What is it used for?
It can be hard for people to differentiate between bumpers versus bumper covers. However, not knowing the difference can lead you to purchase the wrong part—so once and for all, let’s clear up the confusion by covering the nuances between these two vehicle components.
What is a Bumper?
Decades ago, a bumper was a solid metal component affixed to the front of a vehicle. But nowadays, that’s not usually the case. While most people assume the bumper is the visible, front fascia of a modern car, it’s actually a hidden structure behind the bumper cover. Only a few applications, such as heavy-duty pickup trucks, still employ a visible bumper.
Bumpers of all varieties are designed to absorb some impact in a collision, which means they act as a barrier between your vehicle and the other vehicle (or object) involved in the accident. This ensures that some of the more important components under the hood receive less of the impact, thereby mitigating your repair costs.
Modern bumpers, in particular, are designed to absorb minor dings and low-speed impacts. Behind the bumper (also known as a bumper reinforcement), you’ll find energy absorbers.
What is a Bumper Cover?
On the other hand, the bumper cover (also known as the front fascia) is a visible, molded body component that’s typically made out of either plastic or fiberglass. This is the part of the front end that people often misidentify as the bumper itself.
The bumper cover sits in front of the actual bumper. Basically, the bumper cover is there to provide a kind of aesthetic appeal that is unobtrusive. Bumper covers also enhance aerodynamics and, thereby, improve fuel efficiency.
The Differences Between a Bumper Cover and a Bumper
|Functionality||The bumper is a structural|
component designed to absorb
impact in the case of a front-end
|The bumper cover is the soft (usually modeled plastic) portion of your car |
designed to add aesthetic appeal and enhance aerodynamics.
|Protection||As mentioned above, these offer |
decent protection against impact, as well as a contribution to your car’s
|Covers are just that—covers. They’re |
aesthetic fittings that offer little to no protection on their own.
|Materials||Metal or special grade alloys.||Can range from high-density plastic |
materials, fiberglass, and rubber to
synthetic and genuine leathers.
|Availability||This will depend on your car’s year, |
make, and model, as you will have to purchase one that fits your car
|Same as bumpers|
*The crumple zone is a vehicle safety feature that easily deforms and collapses in case of a collision, absorbing some of the energy of the impact and preventing it from being transmitted to the passenger cabin and everyone inside it.
When Should You Get a Bumper Cover?
It’s usually up to your discretion on whether to get either your front bumper cover or rear bumper cover replaced. However, if you need further justification, here are some reasons why you may need a new bumper cover:
- “The paint was chipping away” – The paint job of your car, however resilient, may get damaged by the elements over time. When this happens, the paint either dries up due to the heat or creates air bubbles due to the humidity. If you see your bumper cover showing signs of damage, it might be time to purchase a new one.
- “That old bumper was deteriorating” – Deterioration can mean a lot of things. An object can physically deteriorate, but what you may say here is that it’s “aesthetically deteriorated” or, in simpler terms, you find that a change in appearance is needed for your car.
- “It had a lot of dents already anyway” – While dents don’t always equate to relevant damage, they can be visually displeasing. If you’re tired of looking at your dented bumper cover, this reasoning would be justification enough to get that shiny new bumper cover that you’ve been eyeing.
When Should You Get a Bumper?
Bumpers, on the other hand, are much easier to justify purchasing. This is due to the fact that while bumper covers may be replaced for aesthetic purposes, bumpers are really there to help minimize damage (and as a result, passenger injury) after a nasty accident or collision.
Hence, the only consideration in purchasing a bumper is whether or not it is still functional after a collision. What you have to know is that if your bumper is damaged from an accident, you’ll need to replace it as soon as you can, and chances are, some other parts of your car may require replacement as well.
Before you purchase either a replacement bumper cover or bumper, it’s important to check if either one is Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) certified. In doing so, you’re ensuring that the bumper you’ve just bought, or are thinking about buying, passed the crash test safety requirement.