Have you had a hefty repair bill or estimate from a newer model car crash lately? If you’re involved in an accident with a relatively new car, get ready for a shock when you see the repair estimate. It’s not as easy to cut out or remove a body part and replace it as it used to be — not that it was ever cheap. Increasing complexity and added technologies in newer vehicles are hiking up the repair time and cost, according to AutoCar.
The British website reported that repairs for new cars involved in crashes between March 2015 and February 2016 cost insurers an average of 2,050 pounds ($2,714). Autocar quoted that cost from Accident Exchange, which said that the places on a car most vulnerable to crashes, such as bumpers and fenders, are often loaded with newer tech in the form of ultrasonic sensors, radar, and cameras. The tech pieces are also attached to or embedded in an increasingly wide range of vehicle body materials, often chosen or designed to trim weight while maintaining strength, which further adds to the cost of repairs.
It is becoming so expensive to repair or replace damaged parts of cars in crashes that insurance companies are concerned that a car’s life cycle “tipping point” — when it’s a write-off — is coming sooner. Indeed the report showed the almost 10 percent of new cars that had crashes in the U.K. had to be written off.
“Given how technology-laden and potentially expensive to repair cars have become, it doesn’t always require a huge impact to cause considerable damage,” says Accident Exchange’s director of operations Scott Hamilton-Cooper.
“You can’t just chop out damaged panels on a modern car, because you might cut through a sensor or its wires,” said Malcolm Neil from Inter-est claims management. “For example, to replace the front wing on the current BMW 5 Series takes three times longer than on its predecessor, because first you’ve got to strip out the whole bootlid and disconnect all sorts of ECUs and batteries in it.”
“Years ago, cars were all of similar construction, but not any more,” Neil continued.
One of Neil’s colleagues, Andrew Higson raised another issue, “You can no longer patch up a bumper after a light impact, because the extra layers of paint and filler will affect the calibrations or performance of the sensors fitted to it,” Higson said. “You have to buy a new one, and they aren’t cheap.”