Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Car Runneth Me Over

My 2013 Toyota Camry got hit by two different vehicles on two different days (not my fault!), one on each side of the bumper cover, but both were, relatively, aesthetic in nature, except that each had caused the bumper cover (what people think of as the bumper) to pop out a little bit from the respective side of the the car.

When I examined it more closely, I was stunned at how cheaply the bumper cover is connected to the car! The slightest contact can break the edges/rims of the holes (in the old days, we called them "ears"), where the chintzy plastic screws - - similar to light-duty, plastic, hollow wall, anchors - - go through, so, that, basically, you either have to mend it with Bondo or similar fiberglass repair kit, and/or use a washer and a good wood screw to keep it tight. Even after re-installing the bumper cover with heavy-duty, metal, wood screws or bolts, the bumper still pops out from under the headlight lens at the slightest touch, because of unbelievably thin "tabs" that are completely worthless, like a dovetail joint that barely protrudes from the edge; I can't even get them into the grill, and, even if they did, there'd be NOTHING to hold them, securely! My only recourse is to drill additional holes through someplace that can't be seen on the inner/back of the bumper, and attach it via screws, or chain, or rope, or airplane tape, etc; I'm not even sure that it CAN be done!!!

My '99 Crown Victoria was in similar accidents (not my fault!), and both had far worse damage: one cracked and pushed back the header panel, such that I have to use a screwdriver to open the hood! But, at no time was the bumper at risk of breaking off from the car, even when new, while driving, which can happen with the Toyota, quite easily, if you happen to hit a nasty pothole. Why? Because the Vic was built with plenty of intelligent design and parts. Kick the tires of a new car? Uh-uh. See if you can pull the bumper or grill out with your bare hands (try it! I did it at a couple of non-Toyota dealerships, and they were stunned! They yelled at me like crazy, but, I, quite calmly, said, "Why don't you call the cops, and I'll call the NHTSA!" After venting for a few more moments, I was asked to leave. No cops).

BTW, Honda and other imports are just as flimsy. I'm not saying that it's just foreign cars that have this issue, but, of all the cars I've seen on the road with this problem, it's always the foreign ones. It's a travesty that the US gov't allows such on the roads (if someone screams, "IT'S FOR SAFETY REASONS!" (read: "We did it to save money at the occupants' expense and safety!"), I'd like to know what possible safety one can get from a bumper cover that flies under the car, potentially, piercing the tires and ripping out the exhaust system, or, possibly, flying up and over the hood, and, in either case, potentially, flying into oncoming traffic or vehicles behind it). On the other hand, I'll bet it keeps autobody shops rolling in dough (a friend's similar repair cost over $750; I told her, before she went, that I could fix it in a few hours for about $10; she didn't listen to me; she now wishes she did).

Here's an exploded diagram showing how the bumper of the 2013 Toyota Camry is connected, mostly from the top, and all with small, chintzy, plastic, screws. What do the first three letters of Toyota spell?