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  • Writer's pictureCorrie Enyart

Did You Know? - Even Minor Rear End Collisions Can Cause Damage

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of auto crashes every year in the U.S., representing roughly one-third of all accidents.  And although over 1,700 drivers die and more than 500,000 are injured in front-to-rear crashes annually, most rear-end accidents happen at slower speeds and cause minor structural damage. Keep in mind, even when your vehicle gets dinged up just slightly it can cause hidden damage that may place your safety at risk later on.  

What Causes Rear-End Car Collisions?    

According to traffic safety experts, rear-end collisions in the U.S. happen over 2 million times per year.  Furthermore, over 80% of those crashes could be avoided simply if the trailing driver had one extra second of warning time. These are the main causes of rear-end collisions:

  • Speeding

  • Traffic congestion

  • Distracted driving

  • Mechanical failure

  • Aggressive or reckless driving

  • Driving while fatigued

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

What You Can’t See Matters When It Comes to Car Damage  

Although the cosmetic damage to your vehicle may seem negligible, the dirty little secret about rear-end collisions lies beneath the surface. When you’ve been involved in a minor front-to-rear accident, these are some of the hidden problems it could cause:


Even a minor impact can loosen wires for your battery, brake lights, taillights or starter. In addition to the fact, a loose engine wire could leave you stranded, those disconnected brake lights will keep you from alerting drivers behind you that you’re stopping. 


A rear-end collision not only affects your car’s body, but it can also harm mechanical parts. All-wheel-drive (AWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles have transmission components located near the rear that can get damaged even during a low-impact crash. If the transmission isn’t checked out immediately after an accident, your car could start shifting roughly, leaking transmission fluid or experience poor acceleration. 


A small impact to the back of your car can mess up the trunk’s locking mechanism and seal. Left unaddressed, you could have trouble opening the trunk, water could leak into the storage compartment, or the trunk lid may even pop open while you’re cruising down the highway. 


Most bumpers are only painted plastic that doesn’t protect the metal components directly underneath. Even minor fender benders can slightly bend your car’s frame and lead to future safety problems, like an onboard driver warning system malfunction or weakened frame that doesn’t protect you during a subsequent collision.


Hitting a pothole can knock your car out of alignment, so what makes you think to sustain a front-to-rear impact won’t? If your ride starts pulling to one side of the road, vibrates strangely or there’s a shimmy in the steering wheel, your alignment may be off. A misaligned vehicle can cause premature wear and tear to your tires, brakes, suspension and other parts that result in poor handling issues. 

How to Avoid Rear-End Car Crashes

The best ways to avoid rear-end collisions include:

  • Maintain a safe following distance based on weather conditions and speed.

  • Obey all posted speed limits, especially in construction zones.

  • Don’t drive while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or cold remedies. 

  • Never text while driving.

  • Pullover and take a break if you’re feeling tired, or switch drivers. 

  • Get your vehicle inspected by a mechanic several times a year.

  • Buy a vehicle with an accident-avoidance system. 


When your ride’s been involved in a minor rear-end collision, don’t just pocket the insurance check and gamble on your safety. Golden Hammer Collision's I-CAR and ASE-certified shop managers and technicians will give your car the “once over” to make sure it’s safe to drive.

Information provided by CarWise


  1. NHTSA: 28% of Crashes Are Rear-End Collisions; 9/14/2012

  2. News Release from the National Transportation Safety Board dated 6/18/2015: NTSB Calls for Immediate Action on Collision Avoidance Systems for Vehicles; Cites Slow Progress as Major Safety Issue 

  3. National Safety Commission report: The Road Can Be a Hazardous Place: Common Types of Traffic Accidents; 10/4/2013

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