Maybe you got into an accident, or maybe you just haven’t had time to keep up with your car’s regular maintenance. Either way, there’s a lot to consider when you’re trying to decide whether you will repair or replace a damaged car.
This situation might seem a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. There are some simple guidelines that can help you make the right decision.
More Questions than Answers
If you’re just starting to approach this problem, you probably have a lot of questions running through your mind.
Can the damage be repaired? And if so, will the car still run the same after the repairs?
Will the car still be safe to drive after the repairs have been done? Will it be safe enough to use as a daily driver for your family?
Which is a better financial decision - repair or replace? Will the repairs cost more than the damaged car is actually worth? Would it be better to just spend the money buying a new car?
All of these questions are valid and important. Let’s look at a few important factors. It shouldn’t take long to come up with answers to all of these questions.
How Serious are the Repairs - Minor or Major?
First things first, how bad is the damage? If we’re talking about something small like chips or scratches to the paint, or minor dents, then you are in good shape. That can all easily be repaired by a mechanic.
Small parts of the car that are easily replaceable, for example, windows or broken headlights are also inexpensive to fix. Small parts like these are easy to order, and easy for a professional to fix.
Damage that compromises the functionality of the vehicle like the frame or anything under the hood will be more pricey and may not be worth repairing. The frame of your car is its spine. If the frame is damaged, repairs can cost up to $10,000 or more.
If your engine is damaged in any way, that can also be a very costly repair. Major engine repairs can range between $7,000-$10,000.
The Value of a Damaged Car Versus the Cost of Repairs
Even if you make every repair that is recommended by your mechanic, your car will probably still lose value as a result of the damages.
A vehicle history report will show if your car has been in a collision. Many mechanics will also report work they do on your damaged car to the VHR companies, even if it wasn’t in a wreck. So, even if the repairs are made perfectly, the value of your car will still take a hit.
Keep these facts in mind as you’re making a decision about whether to repair or replace your car. And don’t forget to check whether any of the repairs might be covered under your original warranty or an extended warranty.
Understanding What a Salvage Title Means
If your insurance company decides your vehicle is no longer safe to drive, they will assign it a salvage title. This usually happens when the cost of fixing the damaged car is greater than the value of the car itself.
When your title is designated as a salvage title, that designation will be reflected on your vehicle history report - making it much less desirable to potential buyers in the future.
Many people won’t consider buying a car with a salvage title, and many dealerships will not accept them as trade-ins. If your car has a salvage title, it’s probably best to just take the money from the insurance company and buy a new one.
Making a Final Decision - Repair or Replace
The right choice - to repair or replace - depends on the depth of damage. If you have a few small dings that can easily be fixed, then it is probably worth it to fix the damaged car. Especially if your insurance will cover the costs.
If there is significant damage to the frame, body, or engine, you should probably consider buying a new car.
If the damage is large enough that your insurance company doesn’t think that the car is worth the cost of the repairs, then it is usually best to take their advice rather than continuing to drive a salvage car.
The bottom line is that the decision to repair or replace is your to make. It’s often best to take the money from your insurance company and put it towards another car.