Life happens. Your car is tough, but it isn’t invulnerable. Fortunately, your bumper protects much of your car’s vital mechanisms. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly prone to damage. If you’re driving around with a massive bumper hole, you should get it fixed.

How much damage is too much damage? Sure, your bumper can take a beating, but it should be checked out far before the problem becomes critical. Send your car in for a bumper inspection after the following events:

One: A Fender Bender

Even if the collision is small, your bumper might’ve suffered beneath the surface. Bumpers become weakened from minor collisions, and they can collapse if not paid attention to. Your bumper might look fine, but its backside may have been cracked.

Two: Lost Paint

Even if you haven’t collided with an obstacle, your vehicle can still take damage. If your bumper has missing paint, it’s probably faced blunt force at some point. Get it checked out, because missing paint can be evident of deeper structural issues.

Three: After Winter Months

Sure, your vehicle is weather resistant. If it faced a long, wet winter, however, it deserves a little examination. Bumpers exposed to long frigid periods can crack. Ice contracts surfaces, and your bumper, while a little flexible, can still be damaged from freezing, melting and refreezing ice.

Four: After a Damaged Bumper Cover

Your bumper’s bumper cover protects it from flying debris, high curbs and other obstacles. Unfortunately, bumper covers can be easily damaged. Moreover, their damage is often associated with deeper bumper damages. If your vehicle’s bumper cover isn’t looking so hot, its bumper might be damaged, too.

Five: During Every Check-Up

Your bumper’s adhesive and binding metal can wear down over time. In short: Vehicles age, and so do their parts. For this reason, it’s important to make your bumper an important factor of your vehicle inspection week. If you’re sending the car in, ask about its bumper’s overall health. It might sound stupid, off the bat, but it’s incredibly important.

Remember: Your vehicle’s bumper is responsible for its ability to deflect force. If you’re sporting a weak bumper, a collision is far more dangerous. Unfortunately, too many vehicle owners fail to give their bumpers proper attention. Don’t take chances, and always examine damaged areas before sending your vehicle into the shop. If anything is out of line, contact a professional auto service provider immediately. Your car’s overall health is important—and your safety, more so.