• Jul 31, 2007

A study by AutoBild reveals that modern crumple zones can actually hide serious damage to a car's structural integrity because of the way they're designed. There are two issues: the first is that crumple zones don't just deform in the case of an accident, they are now constructed to bounce back into shape after the collision; the second is that crumple zones are now so large, by government mandate, that crumple zone deformation might extend to points quite distant from the actual impact. By returning, even partially, to a pre-accident state, it is claimed that inspectors and mechanics might not realize how much damage has actually been done, nor exactly where.

AutoBild used a laser to assess the integrity of a car that had been in an accident. Hidden underneath bodywork that was only mildly scuffed they discovered a buckled frame. According to the magazine, a visual inspection even by an experienced mechanic wouldn't discern the damage. In fact, unless a mechanic was using a specialized and expensive machine to ascertain the extent of the damage, it probably wouldn't be caught. It is akin to the issue with helmets, wherein an accident that only scratches the helmet can render it useless. However, it's much easier to replace a Shoei for a few hundred than an entire car because of a fender bender. .

[Source: Auto Express]



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  • 16 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just be sure to total the car and have comprehensive insurance.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Oh it's not as bad as i thought, that will buff right out. boy, i was scared there for a second, but we can laugh now"
      ...lol
      • 7 Years Ago
      It may all end up as "disposable" cars. NA may also mandate all cars over a certain age to be taken off the road. Japanese owners have such a rigid inspection after five years, they are better off to buy a new car. EPA is expecting a lot from cars and an accident may be termination.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Who's idea was it to use a picture of a Myvi? LOL
      • 7 Years Ago
      one more thing to worry about when purchasing a used car ;
        • 7 Years Ago
        Maybe if they just went back to solid lead bumpers...
      • 7 Years Ago
      This can't be true. I've been told countless times how stupid I am for not accepting that modern safety tech negates the actual mass of the vehicle. Today's little tin can wonders are so much safer than the old Chryslers I drove when gas prices weren't dictated by the enviro-socialists.

      I'm sure this applies to bigger vehicles as well but probably no where near the issue. But let's all blame the auto industry and forget all about the rediculous gov. mandated CAFE standards that have been imposed on them that enviromentalists love so much.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, Volvo has made great strides in safety. Safety tech is fine, deciding it makes a 40mpg tin can safe is not. A Honda Civic or a 1973 Chrysler? I think I'll take the whiplash, which would require a pretty good sized vehicle to do so. At least I walk away.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well, it seems to me that would be the main concern in any future accident if the integrity of the vehicle was in doubt. What about accidents caused by the failure of a compromised structure? Maybe I'm wrong but I'm assuming that was the point. I can't imagine what else could be more important.
        Greg A.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Where in this Autoblog item does it say anything about injuries received by passengers as a result of the crash?
      • 7 Years Ago
      People will only use this as an excuse to go buy big ladder frame SUVs that have zero crumple zones.

      Oh well, we can only hope natural selection will take its course.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hoping for "natural selection" on your fellow man, nice.

        Many folks choose to drive the econoboxes for the sake of gas prices (mandated by the gov. compliments of the environmental lobby) or the desire to wear the "look at me! I'm saving the environment!" halo. Either case they are the ones that are unfortunately in danger of "natural selection".
        • 7 Years Ago
        Geez, I didn't know Autoblog was big enough to get republican shrills in the discussions. Well done Autoblog.

        You forgot the third and fourth reasons why people drive econoboxes.

        3. People that actually give a damn about the environment and can see that humans are having an impact. Every little bit counts.

        And 4. They want to help make oil last that little bit longer into our future. The longer we can hold off the cessation of mass oil production, the longer the world's economy will be relatively stable. Oil demand is growing at an exponential rate, if buying econoboxes and halving your fuel use will help slow the demand growth, as I said before, every little bit counts. It also gives more time to those crazy do-good scientists to come up with fusion power.

        You seem to think that people only buy econoboxes because of financial situations or they are so vain to be seen to be doing something. Maybe those Hollywood types in the media are doing it for the wrong reasons, but the rest of us who actually care about our impact on the environment and don't get followed by paparazzi, the halo effect is not what we are after.
        • 7 Years Ago
        By the way, it is Craig, not Greg. It is not spelt how USians pronounce it.

        The CAFE standards mandate a fuel consumption figure that carmakers strive for. The fact that they build cars the wrong way round isn't the environmentalists fault.

        All the carmakers want to increase hp and size for every new model. To achieve the fuel consumption targets set by the crazy lobbyists, they have to make the car lighter in certain ways and spend heaps on engine tech to get fuel use down.

        The auto industry is a business, they are there to sell cars, they do the minimum possible to make as much money as possible. They have to balance legal requirements and marketing.

        Compare the sizes over time of some big selling cars:
        - Honda Civic
        - 3-series BMW
        - Honda Accord
        - Toyota Camry

        These models have consistently grown larger for every model iteration. If the carmakers really cared about CAFE standards and crash worthiness, they wouldn't be increasing the size of their cars every time they go to the drawing board.

        And the car-buying public doesn't escape blame either, they are the ones that are sucked into the marketing spiel. Buying a car that has 225 hp over one that has 200 hp or buying a car based on the car being bigger and feeling more important on the road even though they don't need a big car for 99% of the time.

        A massive shift is needed in the philosophy of car design and marketed. The public also needs to be wiser about the selections they make. In any business, if the consumers change their buying practices, the manufacturers have to follow.
      • 7 Years Ago
      And people wonder why I prefer cars that can take a shot from an M1A1 Abrams without even a scratch.
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