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Old 03-26-2012, 08:09 AM   #21
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I'd take the $800 from the scrap yard and replace the car.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:39 AM   #22
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Definitely get a second opinion. (Of course, that may be "And the car is ugly, too". )

I'm trying to think how the chassis/frame would even get bent, without an accident. If this is a consequence of an accident with poor repair, presumably the insurance company would want to know about that.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:47 AM   #23
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Leave the keys in the ignition and park it in a bad neighborhood.

After taking out full coverage insurance, of course.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:54 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
'when you face a repair that's half the book value of the car, it's time to get rid of it'
That's the basic rule of thumb insurance companies use when deciding to repair or "total" a car after an accident...
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:33 AM   #25
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I'm curious where T-Al weighed in on this.

For myself, I would prefer my kids have a fairly new vehicle that gives me some assurance that maintenance and safety issues will be minimal for as long as possible. That goes triple if they are more than a short drive away from home. It can be a real pain to deal with repairs, worry about getting taken on repairs, etc.

Not only would I suggest she replace it, but I'd suggest that she spend more than $6,000 on the replacement (it sounds like that won't be a major financial hurdle). Sure, one can buy a $6,000 car and get plenty of low-maint miles on it. But spend $10,000 and all things being equal, you'll get to keep that car longer, avoiding the whole shopping issue, and have less maintenance per year you drive it (on average, assuming maint goes up as a car ages). I'd bet the overall cost of ownership delta would be minimal. Plus, it will likely have better, more modern safety features than an older car in the same class.

The only way I'd put $3,000 into a car that would then be worth $3,300 would be:

1) I really could not afford a dollar more than $3,000 w/o considerable pain.
2) I was confident that after the repair, this (now) $3,300 would provide more function for me than if I applied up to $3,800 on a different car ($3,800 is the $3,000 you would have spent on the repair, plus the $800 from scrapping it). edit/add: And since the bent frame (uni-frame?) was unknown, there certainly could be other unknowns)

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Old 03-26-2012, 10:00 AM   #26
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I'm wondering what could possibly make someone even consider (2).
In a brainstorming way, I considered it (although it's not my decision). When it comes to a biggish economic decision, I like to think about things even though they are considered a slam-dunk.

Here's the thinking -- please see this as just thinking out loud:

If (big if) the repair can be made successfully, and that part of the car is as good as new, then she writes a check for $3,000 and is done. She doesn't have to spend any time and money shopping for a new car. The car (which she likes a lot) lasts another 100,000 miles.

If she buys a used car, she will spend at least $6,000 and maybe more. She would have to spend time researching cars, having them inspected, negotiating, doing paperwork, and visiting the DMV. The used car could have problems of its own.

So, economically, the repair option would possibly represent a savings of $2,200 and no additional investment of time. More risky, of course.

I also recommended a second opinion, but she trusts the body shop (they know that she probably wouldn't spend the money on this car), and a second opinion would involve towing.

She's reading this thread, and I'm sure she will get a new car.

Quote:
Too nebulous to comprehend. A "somewhat buckled frame part that makes it dangerous to drive"? What part? The last cars sold in the US that had frames were the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car. Unless she's driving an old Crown Vic cop car

So I have to assume that this was spoken of very generically... very. So what happened three years ago? And what happened now, that this was discovered? A roving band of gypsy body repairers crawling under cars in the grocery store lot (hey lady, I'll fix yer car for ya if ya gimme 3 grand, it's really bad, it'll kill ya the way it is!)
Right. I tried to include only the basic idea to keep it short and simple. Also, my info was third hand (mechanic to Jenny to me).

I called it a frame part just as a shorthand. I don't remember what part it was, but I understood that the safety issue was something about crumple zones.

She had had a minor accident that involved parts in that general area. She went to a junk yard and got the parts and delivered them to the body shop. The cost of the repair would have been $2,100. But then they noticed this buckled part. She saw it and it was clearly bent (plus rusted, indicating that it was there when she bought the car three years ago). So that fix added $900 to the bill.

I was there when she bought the car, and she had it inspected, but this damage was not detected, nor showed up on the carfax report. The car had been vandalized, and the hood replaced. It had been purchased at auction by the person from whom she bought the car.

Note that if these had been two separate incidents, the buy/replace decision would be different ("Do I spend $900 to fix a $3,300 car?").
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:10 AM   #27
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I think you have used the car for its useful life and it is time to acquire the best new (used) car that fits your desires. Or your daughter's desires.

Without doing the actual research, I would think there are plenty of decent cars in the $6000 price range that will be reliable, dependable and have most or all of the latest safety features. Better to spend the net $2200 and upgrade.

I have one of those $3300 cars (2000 Honda Civic) that I bought new 12 years ago and have maintained it very well mechanically (manufacturer recommended services all the way for the most part). Low mileage (under 100k). Just did the timing belt and related services. Never been damaged or been in a wreck. It is in perfect mechanical condition (to the best of my knowledge) and has been a great car.

But if I had to drop another $3000 to keep my car running, I would write it off, take it to a junk yard and get my $800, and look for cars probably in the $6000-8000 range (for me).
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:22 AM   #28
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I was there when she bought the car, and she had it inspected, but this damage was not detected, nor showed up on the carfax report. The car had been vandalized, and the hood replaced. It had been purchased at auction by the person from whom she bought the car.
I wonder if there is another question lurking in the back of your mind. Namely, "If this very vital almost-frame part could have been damaged when we bought the car used, and it was not detected, then who is to say that the same thing or worse won't be the case if we junk it and buy a $6000 used car?"

I don't know the answer to that. You could buy a new car, I suppose, but that would cost a lot more and may not be within your budget.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:31 AM   #29
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I was viewing this as a what would I do, but on review my answer probably doesn't fit. Cars have to be replaced eventually, and I would not put $3K in a $3.3K car. But I would replace it with a new or late model used car planning to keep it for 10 years or so, I wouldn't consider a $6K car for a replacement. You can probably replace even engines, transmissions and other major systems indefinitely cost effectively, people don't because it's a nuisance having your car out of commission for major work. Obviously there are 20, 30 yo and even older cars on the road all the time.

But when I get a replacement, I am expecting little if any maintenance cost for the first 100K miles or more. If you buy a $6K replacement, the risk of costly maintenance occurring sooner is probably real. Now that I force myself to live within the OP parameters, it's not so easy. If I couldn't find a way to manage a better replacement vehicle (presumably more than $6K), I couldn't rule out a $3K fix if I honestly believed the car had at least,several years of life left in it.

Way helpful huh? As you frame it, it's a roll of the dice either way, and you'll never know which choice would have been better...
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:54 AM   #30
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......I called it a frame part just as a shorthand. I don't remember what part it was, but I understood that the safety issue was something about crumple zones.

She had had a minor accident that involved parts in that general area. She went to a junk yard and got the parts and delivered them to the body shop. The cost of the repair would have been $2,100. But then they noticed this buckled part. She saw it and it was clearly bent (plus rusted, indicating that it was there when she bought the car three years ago). So that fix added $900 to the bill.

I was there when she bought the car, and she had it inspected, but this damage was not detected, nor showed up on the carfax report. The car had been vandalized, and the hood replaced. It had been purchased at auction by the person from whom she bought the car.

Note that if these had been two separate incidents, the buy/replace decision would be different ("Do I spend $900 to fix a $3,300 car?").
OK T-Al, that info brings a new light to it. I'd kiss the uncrumpled fender goodbye. Someday it'll come back as a fridg, or as parts of many made in China cheap consumer goods

Then on to the (fun?) task of selecting a replacement, and the assumption that the replacement will need something, if not immediately, then relatively soon. The trick is to divine that the "something" will not be really really big. But "big" can mean different things to different people, and their capability/incapability to work on things themselves, or the conditiuons that it will be used in.

JClarkSnakes - One of my kids has a C5, and I forgot about that. But I doubt T-Al's DD is thinking of one... unless Dear Dad would pay for it. "Don't ya love me, Dad?"

DonHeff - Yup, unibody. Also was called "Unitized Frame Construction" to make it more palatable. Just bend up sheet metal, put some spot welds here and there, and there ya go, a box. Yes, I have some too.

Travelover - That 1959 Chevy is probably the worst example of a frame ever produced. I think we had a conversation here in the last year on it. The "X Frame" fiasco. 1959 through 1964? full-size Chevy. After that, they went back to a more conventional frame.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:23 PM   #31
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To the detractors of the hypothetical $6000 car, and to T-Al and his daughter Jenny, here is some food for thought:

Top 10 Cars for Smart People | Mr. Money Mustache

Recent well written article outlining smart cars for frugal people. Plenty of options recommended in the $5-8k sweet spot. T-Al, I figure you would appreciate his reasoning, and I think you own a car from his list (toyota yaris or echo??).

Mr Money Mustache also had a good post on getting more space in your small car: Turning a Little Car Into a Big One | Mr. Money Mustache
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:32 PM   #32
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[QUOTE=Midpack;1177746] Cars have to be replaced eventually, and I would not put $3K in a $3.3K car. QUOTE]

Ditto
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:33 PM   #33
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I was wondering if this part that was wrecked before she bought it, and she drove with it that way, why is it undrivable now?
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:55 PM   #34
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I was wondering if this part that was wrecked before she bought it, and she drove with it that way, why is it undrivable now?
Not undrivable, but dangerous.

As for any of you talking about Dad buying the car, Jenny is 24, and makes a gazillion times more money that Dad.

Thanks for the link, Fuego.

It sounds like she's considering Honda Fits, Scions, some Honda hybrids, and Versas.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:57 PM   #35
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It sounds like she's considering Honda Fits, Scions, some Honda hybrids, and Versas.
Smart girl, all great options...
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:50 PM   #36
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Not undrivable, but dangerous.

As for any of you talking about Dad buying the car, Jenny is 24, and makes a gazillion times more money that Dad.

Thanks for the link, Fuego.

It sounds like she's considering Honda Fits, Scions, some Honda hybrids, and Versas.
In which case she can easily buy a good new car for less than $20,000 (Subaru Integra?) and improve her life and safety considerably. In spite of what the board may think, there are more important issues beyond penny-pinching, especially for young people with their whole lives ahead, and with more arrows in their quivers than we retirees have.

Ha
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:55 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post

It sounds like she's considering Honda Fits, Scions, some Honda hybrids, and Versas.
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In which case she can easily buy a good new car for less than $20,000 (Subaru Integra?) and improve her life and safety considerably. In spite of what the board may think, there are more important issues beyond penny-pinching, especially for young people with their whole lives ahead, and with more arrows in their quivers than we retirees have.

Ha
+1 to haha, I was in the process of typing that I prefer to have more metal around my loved ones. A car like the Fit does not have much mass, and will lose in any collision with a vehicle closer to the median weight class.

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Old 03-26-2012, 03:11 PM   #38
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+1 to haha, I was in the process of typing that I prefer to have more metal around my loved ones. A car like the Fit does not have much mass, and will lose in any collision with a vehicle closer to the median weight class.

-ERD50
Ditto. Not interested in econoboxes for me or my loved ones given all the 3 ton monsters rolling around the roads.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:14 PM   #39
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In which case she can easily buy a good new car for less than $20,000 (Subaru Integra?) and improve her life and safety considerably. In spite of what the board may think, there are more important issues beyond penny-pinching, especially for young people with their whole lives ahead, and with more arrows in their quivers than we retirees have.

Ha
Yes, but there's probably a happy medium position. She would be safest in a Hummer or Lincoln Navigator. She could hire a professional driver to transport her in a specially reinforced Mercedes. She could wear a crash helmet when driving down the block, and, as ERD50 has said, have the brakes inspected weekly.

You just have to decide where to draw the line between economy, bother, and safety.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:32 PM   #40
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Holy frame fraud batman! I had no idea cars don't have frames anymore. I assumed that after an accident you needed to check whether the frame was bent - happened to me in 67. What do they call the frame now or is that what "unibody" construction means?
Yes, that is what they mean by "unibody," or Toy-Tab construction. Remember paper toys that had to be assembled and they had tabs and slots? You had to put "Tab A" in "Slot A?" Well that is basically how they produce cars today without a Frame. They put the parts together and weld them. Here is the best page I found to show the difference:

Used Car Inspections - Frame Inspections

This page is also interesting in that it makes the observation that
Quote:
A unibody vehicle, with previous frame damage, will have [SIC] substantially weaken or compromise the structural safety of the vehicle. The only way to determine the structural safety of a repaired frame vehicle, is to wreck the vehicle again, and see if it protect the passenger compartment.
Quote:
there is a direct connection from vehicles with previous accident damage and chronic mechanical problems.
and

Quote:
"Farmers Insurance" estimated that 40% of all accident repairs are substandard.
and another tidbit I didn't know...

Quote:
A frame specialist will be able to tell the buyer if the frame is the same as when it came from the factory. Most automotive technicians have little or no experience in frame analysis or repair. There is big difference between a mechanical technician and a body technician. Rarely will you find a shop that has ASE Master Technicians and ASE Certified Body and Frame Technicians under one roof. Before purchasing, be sure to have the vehicle's frame professionally inspected by a ASE Certified Frame Specialist.
Emphasis Mine.

I have a 14 YO Daughter who will be driving within the month. If I bought her, or frankly anyone, a used car, it would be worth the $150 for a competent inspector to know if the car had been in an accident. If it had, I'm not sure I would trust any repair with unibody construction...you just don't know if it will protect the passenger.

Finally, I hope everyone knows not to trust CARFAX to give you a safe answer. There are too many situations that go on where CARFAX doesn't know that the car has been in an accident.

Be safe out there people!
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