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Small Cars Rack Up Big Repair Bills

I can already hear the groans from fans of micro cars and the chortling from those who think the public is nuts to be excited over sub-compact cars. Either way, the latest results on fender bender damage costs to these pint-size cars is one that makes you sit up and take notice.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put 7 micro-cars through 4 crash tests at 3 and 6 miles per hour. The results (see below) drive home an often overlooked aspect of buying a micro-car at a substantially lower price than small, mid-size, or full-size sedans. Even fender benders can be costly,..very costly.

The IIHS rating system:

"Good" Less than $500

"Acceptable" Less than $1,000

"Marginal" Less than $1,500

"Poor" Over $1,500

The Microcar Bumper Crash Test Results:

Car Weight Avg. Damage Cost IIHS Rating

Smart Fortwo $899 Acceptable

Chevy Aveo $1,155 Marginal

Mini Cooper $1,637 Poor

Toyota Yaris $1,951 Poor

Honda Fit $1,960 Poor

Hyundai Accent $2,123 Poor

Kia Rio $2,705 Poor

What do the results tell us?

This is not an indictment against the usefulness or appeal of sub compact or microcars. These cars have become more popular due to the spike in gas prices last year and a desire by many Americans to drive a substantially smaller vehicle.

I certainly understand those feelings. I also do not think these microcars are a fad. There is a market for these cars, especially in big cities, and that is not going to change.

At the same time, these results point out these pint-size cars, which sell at a price far lower than mid-size cars, can be costly to repair following a low speed collision. Look at the IIHS estimated cost of a full frontal accident for the Kia Rio ($3,701).

According to the IIHS the repair cost is 30 percent of the purchase price. Are the people who buy these cars because they are less expensive or to save money on gas, aware that they could be in line for a costly repair bill from a fender bender?

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