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Prius drivers that Labor Day weekend fender bender can cost you nearly $10,000

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According to Bloomberg News, “Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Prius hybrid passed Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Civic to become the best-selling vehicle line in California, the largest U.S. auto market, for the first time as higher fuel prices and new versions of the car drove up demand.” Some 60,688 Prius models are now being driven by Golden State car owners but here’s something they should know.

The Prius, in a field of 20 popular small car models, came in next to last based on total repair costs in a series of four test car crashes conducted in 2008 by the respected Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The organization recently assessed how well the bumpers of 20 small car models would protect the vehicles from damage in low-speed collisions. The worst performers are the Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Prius, and Volkswagen Rabbit, each sustaining about $4,000 damage or more in a single test. The Ford Focus performed the best, with about one-third that amount of damage in its worst test.

If you own a Prius Hybrid an are heading out on a Labor Day weekend road trip, when the traffic will be at its worse, drive carefully my friends, one little fender bender can set you back as much $9,875, which is what one Los Angeles resident was quoted for damage on the front end of his 2009 incurred during a slow speed (3 mph) fender bender.The impact was so light that the air bags didn’t even activate and there was just a few scratches on the car in front.

According to the Highway Safety agency’s report, “ Low-speed collisions happen every day in commuter traffic and parking lots. These "fender benders" end up costing car owners a lot of money and aggravation because the bumpers on many cars aren't designed to handle what should be a no-damage event.”

"Small cars are supposed to be economical, but there's nothing economical about three or four thousand dollars in repairs after a low-speed collision," says Institute senior vice president Joe Nolan. "Ford did the best job of putting bumpers on a small car that largely do what they're supposed to do. In 3 of the 4 tests, the bumpers on the Focus protected sheet metal and most other expensive parts from damage."

While the damage to his car was excessive, the Prius driver mentioned above, loves the car so much he is buying a replacement. Not sure if this is a good idea considering the circumstances.

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