Along with license plate lights, headlight and taillight requirements, having a bumper reflector is something that is required by law in all states. In 2001, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required all new passenger cars to have bumper reflectors. In 2007, these safety features became a requirement for light trucks and vans as well. Motor vehicle inspectors now require that a car must have at least two red reflectors on its rear bumper. Additionally, the Traffic Safety Administration mandated that these reflectors must be visible for 350 feet when illuminated by head lamps. If you are on the hunt for a quality bumper reflector, we have put together a quick guide to help you choose the right one for your car.
Why should you buy a bumper reflector?
Besides being required by the law, bumper reflectors also serve to keep you safe while you are driving, as well as when your car is parked. Bumper-mounted reflectors have been found to reduce rear-end collisions significantly. When you park your car on a dark road, or stop on the road shoulder at night, you are prone to unintentional collisions. A bumper reflector lowers this risk.
Some features to look for when buying a new bumper reflector are:
- Resistance to corrosion or vibration
- Easy installation
- Mounts on flat or curved surfaces
- Candlepower per square foot (this will tell you the amount of light it can reflect)
- Attractive finish
As the bumper reflector is constantly exposed to harsh elements like weather and road debris, it must be durable and must be resistant to crusting. If it's of the adhesive type, it must not lose adhesion too soon, especially if the bumper reflector is frequently exposed to water or rain. Most reflectors are colored red, and have prismatic designs that blend in nicely with most taillights that are similarly colored red.
Housed or self-adhesive?
Depending on your car's make and model, the bumper reflectors are either housed in the bumper or simply mounted using adhesive. Installation for adhesive reflectors is simple enough, and takes about 1-2 minutes to do. For housed reflectors, the process is not that simple-it will require removing the bumper and reaching for screws behind it-but is not very hard to go through. Make sure you buy the right type and size for your car, especially since the reflector should fit inside the housing inside the bumper.
A good bumper reflector can last up to 7 years with constant care. Even if it prevents only a small percentage of rear-end collisions, it is a cost-effective feature that promotes safety.