Bumper Energy Absorbers, Crush Boxes, and Bumper Reinforcements

Let's go back to basics with the ever-popular what to do with bumper energy absorbers, crush boxes, and bumper reinforcements.

Bumper Energy Absorbers

First up is the bumper energy absorbers. In general, bumper energy absorbers are designed to absorb minor collision energy by crushing or collapsing, thus reducing physical damage to the vehicle structure. Bumper energy absorbers are typically designed for one-time use and must be replaced if damaged.

If you are thinking, wait a minute, doesn't GM say you can repair some of them? You're most likely thinking of the GM repair bulletin for polypropylene energy absorbers that involved using a specific hot-melt glue (not your average crafting type). However, in 2007 GM released an update to the original bulletin (63-20-02) making that repair no longer acceptable and indicated that the previous bulletin should be discarded. Per the updated GM bulletin #07-08-63-001: "Because the energy absorbers are relatively low in cost to replace, it is now more cost efficient to replace the energy absorbers whenever they are damaged."

Bumper Reinforcements

Let's move on to the bumper reinforcements. Bumper reinforcements are typically made from very strong materials such as UHSS or aluminum and their job is to distribute the collision energy and may affect SRS timing. Bumper reinforcements are replaced if damaged. Don't forget to inspect mounting points. Any cracking, tearing, or deformation of the bumper reinforcements, as well as any damage that may affect the crash characteristics of the vehicle, will require replacement of the part.

Here are a couple of OEM position statements that address bumper reinforcements:

Honda/Acura Unibody Repair Position Statement: "Because they are made of high strength steel, door and bumper reinforcements must not be repaired or straightened."

Nissan/INFINITI Fundamentals Manual: "Repair of door side impact beam and bumper reinforcement is prohibited."

Toyota/Lexus/Scion CRIB #161: "Damaged bumper reinforcements require replacement." Always refer to Toyota/Lexus service information for the most up-to-date CRIB information.

Crush Boxes

Last but not least, the crush boxes. Crush boxes are designed to be sacrificial parts and should be replaced if damaged. Do not straighten damaged crush boxes. Note that some bumper reinforcements are supplied with built-in crush boxes.

That wraps it up. Knowing what parts should not be straightened or repaired is important to help ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair.

Additional I-CAR Collision Repair News you may find helpful:

Related I-CAR Courses