During a safety inspection, your car has to meet or exceed a set of safety criteria. If your car's bumper has taken damage in a collision, you may not pass your inspection. Knowing what to expect during your inspection will help you decide if you need to repair or replace your bumper.
In terms of a safety inspection, scratches are damage that typically means you won't have to replace your bumper. Scratches are a cosmetic issue that doesn't directly impact the safety of your vehicle.
However, if any of these scratches extend to your lights, you may have to replace the light covers. A scratched lens can change how much light your lamps emit and possibly change the angle that the light is visible.
Dents are another issue that's considered mostly cosmetic during your safety inspection. Small dents mostly hurt the visual aesthetic of your car but don't cause structural damage.
Dents pose a problem when they affect lights housed in the bumper. Dented light lenses may not reflect light in the same way as intact ones. The accident that caused the dent could have damaged the electrical connection to the light — so it may not function. Dents that cause issues with lights could cause you to fail your safety inspection.
Your bumper's structural integrity is compromised when it's cracked. Some minor cracks are repairable, but in most cases, a cracked bumper is a liability in an accident and will need to be replaced.
Front bumpers are especially a concern because most accident impacts that are hard enough to crack the bumper are hard enough to deploy airbags. A significantly cracked front bumper is enough to fail a safety check in some states.
If your bumper houses any lights and any lenses are cracked on your bumper, this will call for replacement. Broken lights may show white light or not reflect light at the proper angle. If you can't replace the lenses alone, you'll have to replace the whole bumper.
Your Bumper's Hooks Are Gone
Hooks connect your bumper to your car's body. If your bumper is missing fasteners, that's a significant safety issue that could make you fail your inspection.
During a collision, these hooks could become damaged or break off. If these connectors are damaged, then your bumper won't be able to absorb impacts effectively. Your bumper could even fall off from hitting a pothole.
You should replace a bumper with missing fasteners as it's a safety issue — even if it otherwise looks fine.
If your bumper is damaged, reach out to an auto shop that specializes in inspections. They will advise you if your bumper will pass inspection or if it will require repairs.