How Much Damage Can a Fender Bender Cause?

There are around 6 million vehicle collisions per year in the United States alone with more than 50% of those being fender benders. Because of this fact and previously accumulated data over the years, it is estimated that every driver is statistically likely to be involved in at least one road traffic accident in their driving lifetime.

While a fender bender is commonly acknowledged as a relatively harmless collision, they are no less hazardous, serious, or frightening than most other collisions. The vehicle and the driver can be affected in various ways.

Some of the most common damage that occurs affects the following:

  • Body damage
  • Engine/internal damage
  • External factors

The most obvious damage is to the body of a car where the impact was made but this can also extend to a vehicle’s engine and internal components while such things as insurance premiums, licenses, criminal records, and psychological issues can all be affected by a fender bender.

Scrapes, Bumps and Breakages

First and foremost, when a fender bender occurs you will usually (but not always) be unharmed and more interested in the state of your car than anything else. The obvious result from even the smallest fender bender is the noticeable damage that it will do to your vehicle. 

Depending on such things as the angle of impact and the speed of each vehicle, the damage can vary from minor paintwork scrapes and bumper damage to hood mangling and broken lights which any collision repair shop should be able to rectify. However, any of these, while minor, can be expensive to repair, especially if you own a luxury or classic car.

Serious Internal Problems

Perhaps not as obvious is the amount of damage to the engine and internal components that can occur as a result of a minor collision. A common issue from a collision is tire damage over time that results from the misalignment of a vehicle following a forceful impact. The unbalanced nature of a misaligned car can cause it to drift while driving, a potentially hazardous defect when traveling at speed.  

For all or rear-wheeled vehicles, it is also easy for the transmission to become easily damaged following a fender bender or small collision. This has an obvious impact on how your car will perform and is noticeable by poor acceleration, jerks, and loud noises when shifting gears and can result in gear components coming loose and entering other systems. If left unacknowledged, this can become an expensive repair.

Personal Issues that Might Arise

Not all the damage done as a result of a fender bender will concern your vehicle and could include insurance issues, expensive liability bills, criminal records, or psychological issues. In short, the damage goes beyond just that of the damage to your bumpers or transmission. While the costs vary by state, the average premium increase following a minor collision is $2,000, something which many people may not be able to afford but can result in legal fees if you are found liable and are taken to court.

Beyond this and even if you have done nothing wrong, the shock of such an experience could result in PTSD that can cause hallucinatory flashbacks, anxiety, and phobias such as not wanting to leave the home or get into a car. This is clearly a more severe issue that can happen and there are many charities and organizations that can help with this.


Fender benders are common and account for half of the vehicle crashes on American roads, resulting in obvious issues to the vehicles involved such as body damage, paintwork scrapes, broken headlights, and a damaged hood but internal issues can also arise.

Impact-related misalignment and a faulty transmission can occur following a collision and these should be appropriately repaired otherwise a serious incident could happen. In addition, your insurance premium may increase with court costs and criminal prosecution if found liable as well as possible PTSD from a particularly traumatic incident.

Modern vehicles are becoming safer through the use of collision detection technologies but not accounting for intoxication, road safety can also be increased with common-sense practices such as not driving when tired or using cell phones while driving. Stay alert and keep your eyes on the road – otherwise, don’t drive.

Chris Turn

Chris Turn