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Should I accept the insurance or keep the "totaled" car?

rooaddictrooaddict Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Toyota

Hello, I was recently hit by a car who slid into me during the ice storms. My 1997 Toyota 4Runner (280,000 miles) still runs perfectly fine, but the two left doors won't open and are smashed in. The car is extremely well taken care of and has never had any major mechanical problems, stalls, major replacements (other than last month paying $500 to replace a stolen catalytic converter), or anything of that nature. It's a great car.

The insurance company of the guy who hit me consider the car totaled because the price of the repairs exceeds the value of the car. They offered $5,700 if I give them the car and $3,500 if if I keep it. My question is, is it worth buying a used $6,000 car that I don't know will be reliable and might end up costing way more than $6,000 in the end, or keep a (thus far) very reliable car with 280,000 mi whose doors won't open (and I won't be able to repair), and keep the $3,500 for future car maintenance.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks.


  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,930

    That's a tough one for you, I'm sure. A couple of things to think about: Your insurance company might not insure a vehicle that's been totaled. Since you probably would only be looking at liability insurance, this may not be an issue, but worth checking. Also, you've got an 18-year-old vehicle with high mileage, and you've put little money into it. That is fantastic, but of course at some point it's going to have a major component failure. Do you really want to put $3500 into an 18-year-old, totaled vehicle?

    Sure, you're taking a chance if you buy another used vehicle, but since you've had such great luck with your current 4Runner, you might have a look around for another one of similar vintage that isn't totaled. Personally, I would count my lucky stars that I owned a vehicle for such a long time at low cost and move forward with another vehicle.

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  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,353

    You don't know your damaged car will be reliable any more than a replacement. At 280,000 miles, the insurance company is doing you a very wise settlement. Take it and move on.

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,930

    rooaddict, I had a look at craigslist listings in your area for a similar vehicle. Euphonium has experience with insurance, and his assessment is right - I saw many 4Runners of similar age, some newer and with fewer miles, and they were not priced anywhere near as high as $5700. That's a nice settlement.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 42,987
    edited March 2014

    Yeah, as much as I've enjoyed (appreciated?) my aging but mostly reliable '99 minivan with almost 200k, I'd jump at the insurance company offer. Take it and move on is good advice.

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,930

    A reporter would like to speak to someone who recently got into a car accident and was spared injury after the car's knee, hip, curtain and/or front airbags were deployed. If you believe a car's many airbags saved you from injury in a car accident, and you want to share your story, please send your daytime contact information to no later than Friday, May 9, 2014 at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,433

    You certainly don't want to drive a car with doors on the left side that you can't open in case of emergency.

    I'd take the money. The truck owes you nothing.

    My only complaint about the insurance company is that they are selling the car back to you at much too high a price. You shouldn't have to pay more than 10% -15% of the totaled value to get the car back if you want it. So they are playing games with you on that matter---which may not matter anyway, but it's not playing fair.

    If you could a) get your car back cheaper, let's say they give you your car and $5000 bucks, and b) if you could find two used doors and just do a 'bolt on' (this presumes no door jamb or frame damage), then maybe you could keep it. But unless both those "ifs" can happen, then let 'er go, is my advice.

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