Does this "damage" sound reasonable?

Yesterday, a BMW minivan stopped short in front of my Chevy here in Red Sox Nation and due to some snow/ice on the road I slid a little and couldn't quite stop in time so my car tapped the BMW's rear bumper,
leaving a very slight mark which looks like it could just be buffed out.
I exchanged data with the other driver and when we were ready to depart his BMW wouldn't start. He had it towed to the dealer he purchased it from.
Later in the day the other fellow called me and said that my car hitting the BMW's bumper damaged some electronic system and that the repairs would require installing a new electronic module (costing about $900) plus labor for a total cost of about $1,900.00.
The owner didn't know the specific name of what component had been damaged and I told him to try and get me more data. He offered the suggestion that perhaps I'd want to consider paying him directly to avoid injuring my record with my insurer and asked how much I'd be willing to pay.
I've reported the incident to my auto insurer, but I'm suspicious about whether or not such a slight tap to the BMW's rear bumper could cause that much damage to some electronic system in the car. Does it sound plausible and reasonable to folks on this newsgroup?
Thanks guys,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
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Let YOUR insurance company handle this. You hit somebody, you are at fault. File the claim and let your insurance carrier carry the ball from here.
If the BMW has Back-up Sensors, then you could easily have done $1900 in damage. I'm not sure this would cause the BMW to fail to start though...
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Cars these days are filled with millions of electronic modules which are critical to their normal functioning. These modules are interconnected with many, many cables and connectors and what is inside them is not documented.
This means that the most minor of electronics failures can result in a vast bill, owing to the difficulty of diagnosing problems (made worse by mechanics randomly swapping parts in hopes of finding the bad one), and the lack of component-level repair meaning a cold solder joint results in replacing a $900 module.
Whatever failed in the guy's car... it could have been ready to fail and would have failed even if you hadn't hit his bumper. On the other hand, maybe it DID fail with only a slight shock. On the gripping hand, maybe it had been intermittent for months and the guy finds this a convenient way to get someone else to pay for a known problem.
So, let your insurance company deal with it. It's their job. --scott
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"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Around four years ago a learner on a moped ran into the back of my [stationary] 735i whilst he was watching a distant fire engine, probably only about 20mph at the moment of impact and both he and his bike were quite light..
Fortunately he was unhurt, although his bike looked a write off.
Damage on mine appeared trivial until it was in for some other work about three weeks later and the mechanic pointed out that the bumper had been pushed well in and the ends were sticking into the wheel arches.
Replacing the trashed absorbent bumper mountings cost ~?600 ($1,000), about two thirds labour.
The bumper was undamaged.
The main electronics in the bumper is the park distance control (also undamaged in my case, but very vulnerable in an impact), but replacing this could easily double the cost above.
So IME the cost sounds reasonable.
I let my insurers sort it out, but using the legal fees bit to claim off the rider rather than a formal claim.

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Am I the only person thinking that's a stupid design, to make the bumper so fragile and expensive to repair?
"Park distance control". Who needs it?
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In the old days, bumpers worked because they were heavy and solid. Today bumpers work because they are fragile and crushable.
BUT... fragile should not mean expensive to repair. And it's not just BMW either: replacing the crushable bumpers on a late-model Nissan will put you back more than a thousand. That seems ludicrous to me.

People who drive cars with poor visibility. Remember Lincolns with curb feelers? --scott
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On 2013-12-22 22:39:47 +0100, dizzy said:

saved the back of my car twice, and may be also the legs of the person who came quick on a supermarket parking with his full caddy I did not see the person, but I heard the bips... does not need often, but when you really need it they are here.
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wrote:

The bumpers aren't fragile - the mountings are designed to deform and absorb the energy of an impact.
It is a lot cheaper to replace the bumper mounting than to beat out a bent boot etc.

It is a useful, but not essential feature. It is not a feature I would buy a car for. OTOH ABS was the primary reason I bought my first BMW in 1985 (IIRC only 7 series and Ford Granadas had it as standard and it was not even an option on most cars).
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This is true.

But the sad part is that this isn't true. I know it's supposed to be true, but when you actually have to do it you find out that it isn't. --scott
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wrote:

This may depend on how many panels you bend, replacing light clusters etc. etc.
In the case I cited the moped had a smashed fairing, twisted forks, and bent frame plus probably the front wheel was buckled as well. Even though it was fairly new, my reckoning was that it was a write off for more than the eventual cost of the damage to my car.

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wrote:

The idea is that the bumper actually absorbs the forces of an impact instead of transmit those forces into the passenger compartment, where the occupants then absorb the forces.
Nobody cares about the cost of sheet metal and plastic, they care about the occupants.
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There's several feet of crush-space to absorb energy in a crash. The bumper was put there to protect the car, as far as I know.
Although I'm sure it's all part of the safety system, these days.
Along with the 10 airbags that also cost more than they are worth.

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