January 18, 2024

What Damage Can a Rear-End Collision Cause? 10 Common Effects

Rear-end accidents are a common occurrence—one minute you’re driving, and the next, bam! a distracted driver hits you from behind.

After regaining your composure, you examine what damage the rear-end collision has caused. The impact can vary, from noticeable dents and scratches to less visible problems like a misaligned frame. 

This guide will explore the different types of damage that can arise from rear-end collisions and how they impact the driving experience. Let’s take a closer look.


What Can Be Damaged in a Rear-End Collision?

1. Bumper Damage

What takes the biggest hit in a rear-end collision? Your bumpers! Depending on the collision’s force, they can get dented, cracked, or completely detached. 

Bumpers absorb shock and protect the car’s front and rear, but a forceful impact can result in significant damage. This damage is not just cosmetic—a collision can make the bumper less effective at protecting the vehicle. With this in mind, you should replace a damaged bumper promptly with the help of an auto body professional.

2. Trunk Damage

So, what can be damaged in a rear-end collision besides the bumpers? Let’s talk about the trunk. 

When another car hits you from behind, the impact can affect the appearance and functionality of the trunk. It can become bent out of shape or have trouble opening and closing. A broken trunk seal may cause water leakage, preventing you from carrying items like groceries or a spare tire. 

3. Rear Window Breakage

The force from a rear-end collision sends a shockwave to the rear window, possibly cracking, shattering, or loosening it. While this damage impacts the car’s appearance, it’s also a significant safety issue. 

Driving around with a damaged rear window could let in rain, snow, and debris or obstruct your view of the road and traffic behind you. Moreover, rear windows add some muscle to the car’s structure, especially the roof. In the event of a rollover, that rear window supports the frame and keeps the roof from collapsing in on you. 

4. Frame Damage

Let’s not forget the car frame when discussing what damage a rear-end collision can cause. A significant impact can bend or twist a frame—a critical concern for the vehicle’s structural integrity, performance, and safety. 

As the vehicle’s backbone, a frame misalignment leads to further mechanical issues like misfitting doors, car body gaps, or unusual creaks and squeaks while driving. Moreover, driving a car with structural damage can result in legal issues, including fines, as many states prohibit it. Frame damage also impacts the car’s resale value, making selling and trade-ins challenging. 

5. Taillight Damage

Now, let’s shine a light on taillights in rear-end collisions. When another car bumps into you from the back, the taillights are often in the line of fire. They can crack, break, or stop working altogether. 

A light collision impact under 6 miles per hour (10km/hr) might only call for a bulb replacement. However, more forceful collisions will likely require taillight replacement. Remember that taillights are an essential safety feature, letting other drivers know your next move on the road, so get them fixed quickly.

6. Exhaust System Damage

Your car’s exhaust system can suffer severe damage after being rear-ended, which isn’t something to take lightly. Damage to the exhaust system can lead to various issues. First, it can reduce the car’s fuel efficiency, meaning you’ll spend more at the pump. Even worse, a damaged exhaust can allow dangerous fumes to enter the vehicle, posing a serious health risk. 

Your car’s overall performance can take a hit with exhaust system damage; it might not run as smoothly or powerfully as it should. Also, consider the environmental impact—a damaged exhaust system can increase emissions. 

7. Suspension Problems

This damage can be a real pain, affecting the car’s handling. A damaged suspension could make your ride feel rougher and less stable, and you might even notice the vehicle pulling to one side. This issue also affects your control over the car, particularly during braking or turning. Your tires can also wear out unevenly, leading to more frequent replacements. If you’ve been in a rear-end collision, getting the suspension checked is smart. 

8. Transmission Issues

A faulty transmission is problematic, especially if your car is rear-wheel drive. The transmission is the car’s power distributor, and a rear-end accident can knock it out of order. You might start noticing symptoms like trouble shifting gears, strange noises when driving, or stalling. 

It’s not difficult to imagine the potentially grave consequences of a compromised transmission. It may unexpectedly shift gears at high speeds, resulting in a sudden and uncontrolled forward lurch. This malfunction could cause you to hit another vehicle or send you careening off the roadway.

9. Wheel and Tire Damage

In rear-end collisions, the car’s wheels and tires can take a severe hit, leading to several issues. The impact can knock wheels out of alignment, causing the vehicle to handle poorly or veer to one side. 

Misaligned wheels also lead to uneven tire wear, meaning your tires could wear out prematurely. Direct tire damage, like cuts or sidewall bulging, is typical and poses a serious safety risk, such as blowouts while driving. A collision can bend or damage the rims, affecting the tire’s fit and the vehicle’s overall balance. Such damage affects the driving experience and compromises safety, making it critical to inspect and repair these components after a rear-end collision.

10. Paint Scratches and Chips

Pay attention to paint and chip damage when pondering what damage a rear-end collision can cause. Chips and scratches may seem minor, but their impact is more than skin-deep. Paint chips—big or small—can leave your car vulnerable to the elements, setting the stage for rust and corrosion. Rust compromises the vehicle’s structural integrity and diminishes its aesthetic appeal and resale value.

The longer you ignore paint chip damage, the costlier the auto body restoration. It’s wise to take care of it quickly. Your car insurance policy may cover this and other auto damage, so check with your carrier.

Can a Car Be Totaled from a Rear-End Collision?

Drivers are also concerned with whether a car can be totaled from a rear-end collision. The answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no,” as it depends on several factors, like the following:

  • The Type and Condition of Your Car: For instance, a sturdy SUV might fare better than an older compact car. 
  • The Speed and Force of the Impact: A gentle bump could be no big deal, but a high-speed crash could result in a one-way ticket to the junkyard.
  • The Extent of the Damage: If the damage is so bad that repair costs exceed the car’s value, then yes, it can be considered totaled. 

While this is usually not the case, a rear-end collision can total a car, depending on the circumstances.


CARSTAR Can Restore Your Vehicle After a Rear-End Collision

If you’re still concerned about what damage a rear-end collision can cause, bring your vehicle to CARSTAR for a checkup and repairs. Our expert team specializes in restoring vehicles to their prime, no matter the damage. Swing by CARSTAR, and let us take the wheel in getting your car back on the road, looking and driving like new.
Trust CARSTAR’s expert technicians for auto collision repair at a body shop near you.