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The importance of crash testing

Tests found a poorly designed bumper can cause more damage to both vehicles.

A simple fender bender could cost you more than $7000 to repair.

That's part of the findings of new research carried out by motoring organisation the RACV.

Nine small cars were tested in the study using a new crash apparatus that has never been used in the southern hemisphere before.

It is the first in a year-long program to test various cars for sale within Australia.

The testing simulated a 10km/h impact, one of the most common forms of accidents. The RACV then priced repairs for the collision.

The findings highlighted the huge variety in repair costs across the small-car segment. The Toyota Corolla was the star with an estimated repair cost of just over $1000, or 4.4 per cent of the car's recommended retail cost.

That was offset by the high costs to repair the Honda Civic and Suzuki Swift. The Honda's repair bill was more than $7000 and the Suzuki's $5547, a whopping 34.7 per cent of the car's price.

“The results show a vast difference in repair costs across the range of vehicles tested because a poorly designed bumper can slide under other bumpers on impact, causing more damage to both vehicles,” RACV Insurance general manager Susan Allen says.

Aside from the repair costs, poor-performing cars can lead to further insurance increases.

“We are urging consumers to consider repair costs as an important factor when buying a new car because this can have a significant impact on their insurance premium,” Allen says.

The testing is done in conjunction with six countries around the world and is designed to highlight deficiencies to help carmakers improve their vehicles.

RACV's chief vehicle engineer, Michael Case, praised Toyota's efforts with the Corolla for collisions with other cars and pedestrians.

“The Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic scored similar leg-protection results in the EURO NCAP pedestrian-safety program, yet the repair costs of these vehicles differ dramatically,” Case says.

“This proves manufacturers can design vehicles that can perform well in pedestrian safety and vehicle protection.”

The RACV's results come in the wake of similar testing done by NRMA Insurance.

Each year the New South Wales company conducts two low-speed accident tests of more than 46 of the country's biggest sellers. The first simulates a 15km/h impact with a solid barrier and the second a rear crash at 30km/h.

That data is used to calculate the repair costs for such accidents and, according to NRMA Insurance chief Rick Jackson, some of the results are shocking.

“Though design enhancements may largely go unnoticed by vehicle owners, they can have a sizeable impact on the cost of insurance,” Jackson says. “Design improvements by carmakers are helping to reduce collision costs in some makes and models, but there is still a need for improvement."

“A startling fact that has come out of this year's low-speed crash test is Australia's three biggest-selling family sedans — the Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry and Ford Falcon — have all increased in repair cost. The Falcon by a staggering 26 per cent.

“However, proving that new-car technology doesn't have to become more expensive, the cost of repairing the Mazda6 has dropped 36 per cent since last year.”

Such data is used by the insurance company to help set rate premiums, meaning choosing the right car could save you money.

“Motorists should consider the cost of repairing a vehicle before they make their purchase because a bargain in the showroom may not be such a good deal when taking the cost of insurance and repairs into account,” Jackson says.


Crash test results

Estimated Repair cost repair cost as a % of rrp

1 Toyota Corolla $1018 4.4%

2 Ford Focus $2357 10.7%

3 Holden Astra $2626 10.9%

4 Mazda3 $2886 12.6%

5 Toyota Yaris $4016 22.1%

6 Hyundai Getz $3363 22.4%

7 Mitsubishi Lancer $5467 23.5%

8 Honda Civic $7385 31.4%

9 Suzuki Swift $5547 34.7%


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