Author Topic: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick  (Read 4187 times)

tdg

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Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« on: September 28, 2013, 10:00:50 PM »
We hit a deer with our long-paid-for 2006 Pontiac Vibe this morning (~140k mi.). The police officer and the tow truck guy said it'll probably be totaled. We planned to have the car for a long time, but now have the hassle of having to get another car quickly. We live in a rural area (central Wisconsin) and have to drive significant distances to reach family, kids activities (age 3&5), etc..
We really liked the car so would like to replace it with another Vibe or Matrix. Or maybe a used Prius or a Focus. Wouldn't have considered the Focus without this: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/ The choice of replacement vehicle will depend somewhat on how much we get for the deer-struck Vibe.
We have a standard body pickup (paid-for 1995 Toyota T100 with ~240k mi) and many more bicycles than people (~2.5:1). We live biking distance (3mi.) from work and bike when we can, depending on delivering the kids to daycare or school. My wife sometimes has to use our car for work travel and gets reimbursed at the IRS rate of $0.565/mi.
Being in a rural area, there aren't many nearby options for vehicles we'd buy. Craigslist shows some possibilities, but none nearby. I'd like to buy some time so we can be selective, but don't know anyone with a vehicle they could loan to us or swap for our truck.
If you have experience with a totaled vehicle, was the insurance company ok to work with? Was the compensation offered to you reasonable? Is there a way to come out ahead in this? Any other comments or advice?

Jack

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 10:10:52 PM »
Why did you have full coverage on a paid-for car of that age/mileage? Although it worked out for you this time, on average it's not worth it.


Deano

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 10:24:26 PM »
There's no reason not to go with another Vibe really. I have one, amazing car so far (mine is a 2005). They're super cheap in the state for one with less than 100,000 kms on it (60k miles).

Having said that, the Elantra Touring is a nice ride, or Honda Fit. The Vibe beats them for room though, so it still gets my nod.


tdg

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2013, 06:06:37 AM »
Thanks for the comments. We want another Vibe / Matrix but the problem is finding one quickly with the right price, mileage, and condition. The higher seat made it a very comfortable car for me at 6'1", most passenger cars aren't nearly as comfy.

Any thoughts on a Ford Focus wagon? They're cheaper and more common in our area. We want lower mileage, but there are many for sale with >200,000 miles. I guess that's a little evidence that they can be pretty durable.

Regarding insurance - this is the third deer we hit since moving to Wisconsin four years ago. The first two were glancing strikes where the deer ran off and body damage to the vehicle was so minor you had to know just where to look to see anything. No repairs, insurance claims, or police reports required. Those incidents and the experience of many others in our area seemed to make it reasonable to maintain a pretty high level of insurance on our main vehicle. Insurance on the truck is the legal minimum.

Deano

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2013, 06:21:46 AM »
The Focus wagon does ok in the reviews, but I'm not sure about how comfy the seating is for someone over 6 feet....I'm 5'8 on a tall day. I think for domestic cars, the Focus wagon is at the top of the heat for small, reliable vehicles. Didn't MMM do a post on used cars? Might be worth a look, then shop according to that list, cross referenced with Edmunds.

lentilman

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2013, 07:09:35 AM »
If you need to buy time, there is always the possibility of a rental.

Will your insurance pick up the rental cost while they evaluate the damage?  Does the autobody/salvage place have a free loaner to use while your car sits there?  (We had a similar situation recently, and the shop let us use one of the company cars and we only had to pay for gas).

Daleth

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2013, 09:21:16 AM »
The Focus wagon does ok in the reviews, but I'm not sure about how comfy the seating is for someone over 6 feet....I'm 5'8 on a tall day. I think for domestic cars, the Focus wagon is at the top of the heat for small, reliable vehicles. Didn't MMM do a post on used cars? Might be worth a look, then shop according to that list, cross referenced with Edmunds.

A long-limbed 6-foot friend of mine had a Focus. No problem at all. It's definitely worth a look. He sold it a while back to another friend and it's still going strong at close to 200k miles.

ender

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2013, 10:48:40 AM »
The Focus wagon does ok in the reviews, but I'm not sure about how comfy the seating is for someone over 6 feet....I'm 5'8 on a tall day. I think for domestic cars, the Focus wagon is at the top of the heat for small, reliable vehicles. Didn't MMM do a post on used cars? Might be worth a look, then shop according to that list, cross referenced with Edmunds.

I'm 5'8 and drive a 2005 Focus wagon and have never felt cramped.

The back seats don't come with headrests, which is about my only complaint. Oh and it only gets 30-35 MPG. Be nice if it got more than 40 too. Be cool if it was free too but we can't have all things I guess.

I also frequently take advantage of the ability to fold the back seats down, many a large object has fit in their quite easily :) My roommate actually bought one too after seeing how useful it is to have a wagon. They are a great value, I paid $7500 for mine three years ago with only 44k miles on it.

StarryC

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2013, 01:11:37 PM »
Do some research on the value of your car prior to the accident and consider negotiating with the insurance company.  You might not get anything more, but for an hour of research and an hour of calls you might get an additional $500-$1000.  That research can, conveniently, be you looking for a similar mileage and condition car for sale. 

In my experience, you can rent a car for about $100 a week.  I think it is worth it to do so if it allows you to make a calmer/better choice on a new car.  It also might be worth it for you to travel to go get the right car.  Are you close enough to Minneapolis or Chicago to search their markets? 

tdg

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2013, 09:11:36 PM »
Thank you all for the ideas. We have a rental for the moment, but at $50/day it seems like a rip-off, even with insurance paying $20 of it. We hit the deer on our way to a big family event across the state so had to take what we could get for the weekend.

We want to try out the Focus and Prius. We're open to others if the price, mileage, and condition is right. We have three scenarios in mind:
1. Go cheap with a Focus. We really need to do a test drive, but they seem inexpensive compared to  2 & 3 below. Reliability looks pretty good and mileage is acceptable.
2. Get a similar Vibe / Matrix. I hope this would be close to cost-neutral, but that depends on  the insurance company.
3. Spend a little more for a Prius and make it back in improved gas mileage. Also really need a test drive.

If we can reduce our miles driven, option 1 is more attractive, but if we continue our high mileage ways, 3 looks better. I part-jokingly told my folks we're going on strike - no more visits there until after they drive the 2.5 hrs. to visit us a few times. We've realized that our frequent weekend travel to visit family in eastern WI or in the Twin Cities is one of our biggest expenses and makes life feel hectic.

This could also be an opportunity to up our badassity in the bicycle department. I have to repair my main bike ('85 Trek 400) - before it broke I was doing a bicycle train to drop off the kids at day care with a Burley trailer hooked up to the 1-wheeled tag-along hooked up to my bike. Since I've been on my backup bike (late 70's Raleigh Sprite 27) I'm down to hauling the Burley with just one kid. My wife's job makes it tougher for her to ride, but being carless for a little while may help us improve.

StarryC, thanks for the tips on working with the insurance company. We've been doing some of that research for a replacement and will start thinking of it as background info for negotiating. We can travel some for the right vehicle and have family in the Twin Cities, but having no way transport the kids makes that tough.

We visited a used car lot today to peek through the windows of a few models we're interested in. A spreadsheet is in the works to compare options 1-3.

Jack

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Re: Trusty Vibe totaled - have to get a car quick
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2013, 04:56:05 PM »
2. Get a similar Vibe / Matrix. I hope this would be close to cost-neutral, but that depends on  the insurance company.

Find a similar Vibe/Matrix for sale, then show it to the insurance company and say "this is what my car was actually worth, so this is what I expect to get from you."