Author Topic: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?  (Read 2717 times)

Partyof7

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Our 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan (169,800 miles) got bumped from behind. 
Since the repair estimate came out to more than 75% of the value, it's totaled. (South Carolina)
The other insurance company (State Farm) is paying.

$1852 repair estimate for new muffler and pipe and bumper cover.  Potential for additional hidden damage.  Need to have my husband look under there and see if the muffler looks "pushed up into the motor." We've been driving it. It's also possible we could find more affordable used parts.  This was only one estimate.

$1006 is the "good" condition estimate I found using kbb.
$3431 is how much they are willing to pay us for "totaling" the vehicle.  They keep it, we get a check.
$2926 is how much they would pay us, if we keep the vehicle with a salvage title.  This may have insurance consequences? Nationwide says they don't insure vehicles with a salvage title. So we'd need to find another insurance company.  Anyone have experience with insuring a salvage titled vehicle?
- $1852 repair cost
=$1074 remaining

We have 5 kids at home for another 1.5 years when our oldest leaves for college.
3.5 years until we have 3 kids at home. 
$10,000 is already set aside for minivan replacement.  And about $6000 for "truck fund" (Saturn replacement)   
We currently drive the minivan about 8,000 miles per year.  (I'm a stay at home mom, kids take the bus.)   
Maybe once/year or once every other year we take a longer trip.  This minivan has been from South Carolina to Nebraska to Arizona and back.  To Orlando several times.  And last summer we went to NYC and upstate NY. (We've owned it for 10+ years)
19mpg on the minivan. The transmission has 100,000 miles on it.  We've done some repairs.  But it does have a powersteering fluid leak to the tune of $5/month.

Our other car is a 1996 Saturn, with about 185,000 miles on it. 
28mpg. (We've owned it for 17+ years) Putting ~9500 miles/year on it. 

Since starting to read MMM, I've thought when the Saturn dies, to get something very small/efficient that holds 5 people, but would be a good "commuter car" for my husband.  He is 8.8 miles from work. x2/day x6 days/wk x48 weeks/year.  = 5067 miles/year.  (He's been wanting a small truck since we sold his 17 years ago when we had our first baby! But with all the remodeling we do, the minivan has been a great construction vehicle.  It's shocking how many building supplies we've hauled inside and on top of the minivan.)  My thought was to decide at that point if a small truck would work for our family size/ construction needs at that time, or if an old minivan would still work!)

What's an aspiring Mustachian to do?  Until I got these numbers, I thought we should just keep the minivan, pay to get it fixed, because it probably has more life left.  But now I'm unsure.  I would love any advice/thoughts/ideas.  What would MMM do?  (If he had 5 kids)

The risks and dilemnas of getting in a small accident, when your car is old and not worth much!

Thanks so much for any thoughts you can share!

« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 09:15:22 AM by Partyof7 »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 09:25:07 AM »
It looks like the rear-ended was driving something small that went a little underneath, right?

I get jumpy about the safety ratings of cars that old, so I'm not fully on the train of 20-year old cars here. (We have a 2013 Ford PHEV we bought used for $13k and buy gas twice a year.)

That said, it's hard to justify a new-to-you minivan if you planned to nit have a minivan in a few years.

But, better to have a minivan for longer than to commute in a truck! For your husbands commute he should get a used EV if the Saturn is getting replaced.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 09:36:35 AM »
Was the transmission replaced or rebuilt?  If rebuilt, I lean towards totaling.

Either way, there's not a lot of risk which ever direction you take this.

Partyof7

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 09:40:14 AM »
Yes, we were rear ended by a Subaru.  We braked, he swerved into the other lane, but someone was coming, so he hit our back right corner with his front left corner.  It was a very low speed accident.

Not sure WHEN we will replace the Saturn, just trying to share our whole car situation for reference.  The Saturn has been a great car. As you can tell we've been in the camp of buying and holding cars. 

I haven't yet done math to know or understand if it makes sense to sell for a lower MPG.  As I've read the blog, I've seen situations where people are told to sell to get a better mpg.  "The true cost of commuting" blog post was great for the numbers.  This is the first time we've lived this far from work.  In the past he had a 2 mile commute (bus/bike) for 6 years, and a 4 mile commute for 6 years.  Reading this blog makes me HATE the length of the commute.  But we live within 2 miles of schools, church, shopping.  And we were able to get 2 acres in town.  So for us, this is an amazing location to have space to grow a large garden and trees.   But since we are no longer so close to campus, we probably need to do math and think about what makes sense for a commuting car.

My husband thinks our kids should drive the Saturn.  But I have NO desire to pay the insurance on 3 cars.

rubybeth

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 09:59:41 AM »
Similar thing recently happened to our oldest vehicle. We decided to keep it, but then it developed other issues that were costly so we got a newer vehicle. I'd have a mechanic look it over thoroughly for other damage or things that need to be fixed in the next year or so, and decide based on that. The slightly higher payout for letting them take it means you can go and buy a newer vehicle with a bit more cash in your pocket. If you get another minivan, you can always trade it in later for a vehicle that works better at that time. Just don't buy something brand new (doesn't seem like you're the type to do that, but for others reading this later).

mustachemountain

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 10:15:45 AM »
I'm sorry i don't have anything to add about insuring a salvage title, or any useful information about motorised transit at all.
but i will mildly chide you for the commute - you live in a place that doesn't get winter (not like some places get winter), and anything under 10 miles is an easy bike commute. eeeeeasy.
this is mmm, and i don't know why people are letting you off the hook for suggesting buying a pickup truck. for commuting.
i can't speak for anyone else, but I'm ready with the face punch!

Partyof7

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2018, 10:30:03 AM »
I think the transmission was rebuilt. 

I'm not the one that thinks that a small truck (such as Toyota Tacoma) is a good commuting vehicle. 
Perhaps you are offering to face punch my husband!  (Is it kosher to facepunch non-mustachians?)  I'm convinced he needs a commuting vehicle! And I'm proud of the last 10 years of construction projects done with a minivan to haul stuff.  Ever since I started reading this blog last May, I've slowly been working on him that when the Saturn dies he actually needs a commuting vehicle, not a little truck.

And I think he'd be somewhat open to biking.  The first 2 miles is crazy traffic, large ditches on side of the road.  But the rest of the bike ride could be done more easily.  He did bike commute for about 6 months on a crazy road 4 miles...
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 10:32:41 AM by Partyof7 »

Partyof7

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 10:31:15 AM »
Great advice about the mechanic!  Thank you.

Similar thing recently happened to our oldest vehicle. We decided to keep it, but then it developed other issues that were costly so we got a newer vehicle. I'd have a mechanic look it over thoroughly for other damage or things that need to be fixed in the next year or so, and decide based on that. The slightly higher payout for letting them take it means you can go and buy a newer vehicle with a bit more cash in your pocket. If you get another minivan, you can always trade it in later for a vehicle that works better at that time. Just don't buy something brand new (doesn't seem like you're the type to do that, but for others reading this later).


frugaliknowit

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 11:25:13 AM »
100,000 miles on a rebuilt tranny, the first one only lasted ~70,000; if it were me, I'd take the ~3400, add my 10K and buy "new to me".
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 11:26:51 AM by frugaliknowit »

Car Jack

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2018, 11:49:12 AM »
The difference between you giving it to the insurance company and keeping it is $500.  Keep it.  When it has any failure that you don't want to put the money into, call one of those guys who will pay you for scrap and tow away for $100 and buy something else.  I hope you're only carrying liability on that.

Rural

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2018, 08:24:10 PM »
Call your tag office/ check the state website and be sure you can register and tag a vehicle with a salvage title. In some states only dealers are allowed to.

MayDay

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2018, 11:50:02 AM »
I would keep it but not repair it.

As long as it lumps along fora few months it will have made up the 500$ difference, and it may limp along for years!

-we have a 2004 sienna with 200k miles that is dramatically limping along. Hoping it gives us another 2 years maybe!

GuitarBrian

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2018, 11:57:53 AM »
For the $500 difference... Keep it. If it is driving OK now, I wouldn't fix it. Just drive it until something major breaks. Obviously for insurance, liability only is the way to go for something like this.
You could very well get years out of it.

Zamboni

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 12:14:06 PM »
Did you look to see what is on the market that you can buy as a replacement right now? It seems like you need that information.

Progressive will insure salvage title cars in some states.

It least you don't have to worry about passing inspection in SC.

If the kbb value is only $1000 and they are offering you $3500, and if you can replace it with a similar van in better shape for a modest amount, then it might be worth taking the money to get something without damage. You really need quite a bit more information here, including what is currently available on the local market.

Nice stickers, btw. Live long and prosper.

Gin1984

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2018, 01:55:17 PM »
If you are a stay home mom and the kids take the bus, do you really need a vehicle right now?  Could you take the money and sit on it until you found the best deal?

soccerluvof4

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2018, 04:42:38 AM »
I side with those that say keep it and see how long it will go. Might surprise you.

Classical_Liberal

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2018, 05:32:39 AM »
Another vote for keep it!

I had a similar situation about 2.5 years ago.  I had purchased a Scion Tc for $4500 of off CL, then proceeded to get slow speed rear-ended by a big ass SUV a couple months later.  Bumper and trunk damage, totaled out. 

I think my offer was something like $5200 and they take it or about 4K and I keep it.  I took the 4K, paid a body shop a few hundred bucks to pound out the damage as best they could.  The trunk doesn't quite seal correctly, but other than that its virtually unnoticeable. 

I've gotten 2.5 years and about 40K of work travel/road trip miles out of that vehicle and its still going strong!  It's turned out to be the cheapest per mile rate on a vehicle I've ever owned.

I remember taking the remaining 3.5K and buying some VTI with it; that investment is probably worth around 5k today, so I get another similar value car when this one dies, essentially for free. 

Edit:  No problem getting car insurance for me.  As long as driving a salvage title vehicle is legal in your state (most allow it for late models), you should be golden.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 05:40:23 AM by Classical_Liberal »

Partyof7

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2018, 01:58:05 PM »
Sorry for the late reply, I stopped getting email notifications somehow.
Thanks to everyone for sharing your ideas and thoughts, I appreciate it very much.

We decided to take the check.

Not repairing it wasn't an option for me, because the muffler was pushed up in there, potentially causing other problems.  A good family friend had that sort of situation, with a small car accident muffler damage and ended up dying of Co2 poisoning while taking a nap in the camper on the way back from a hunting trip.  Maybe the damage is different, and not potentially deadly.  But anyhow, I feel that I'd certainly repair it.

The salvage title thing concerned me.  But good to know Progressive was a possibility for insurance.

I could get by without a car for awhile if I didn't have to take my 3 year old to speech therapy 3 times per week.  Maybe I should see if my husband wants a bike!  The tow truck will be here any minute.

The fuzzy math reason we decided to take the check: 
We paid about $10,400 for this car - the check =cost of purchase ~7000. over 10 years 3 months of ownership.
=$683/year of ownership.

To get to that number per year, after the repairs, we'd have to hang onto it for 3.4 more years.  And of course, cars this age/miles don't last another 3.4 years without some repair costs.

By our thinking, we decided getting this check was a good option for us to get something out of the vehicle, rather than trying to keep it another 3.4 years...

Looking on the used market, I have found some great options that will work for our family.  It's amazing how much value the Toyota's hold. 

We hope to buy something in the $5000 range to meet our needs over the next 4-5 years, and might even be able to sell it for $1000 or $2000 if all goes well at the point we downsize to something that seats 5 and has a better mpg than 19!

Thanks again everyone!

rubybeth

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Re: Minivan "totaled"! Take the payout OR keep it with salvage title?
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2018, 01:14:11 PM »
Glad it worked out! Wishing you best of luck in finding a good replacement.