Author Topic: WWYD After a Car Accident  (Read 717 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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WWYD After a Car Accident
« on: February 01, 2019, 11:58:29 AM »
I have been perfectly happy with my moustachian 2004 Honda Civic with 127,000 miles, which gets 35/40 mpg and has never once given me an ounce of trouble. Unfortunately, I was in a fender bender last night, and the car in front of me had a trailer hitch. The good news is, no damage to the other cars or any of the humans involved (thank goodness!). The bad news is, the front of my car is pretty bashed in. It still drives like a charm and is not dripping from the radiator. I have solid insurance but the car likely isn't worth much--I assume it's totaled just due to body damage--but the collision centers and insurance always want to make your car look brand new, or talk you into selling them your car and buying a new one. This car does not need to look brand new. It was my first car in HS, so it's got some scrapes and dings, although I've been religious about scheduled maintenance. As a moustachian, I can afford to buy a new-to-me car, but I'd prefer not to (I don't drive on personal time but I do travel for work at the IRS reimbursement rate). Would you try to have a "cheaper" auto body shop open it up, make sure there's no engine damage, and then put a Pick N Pull or used hood/front bumper cover on the car and then paint it? Has anyone ever tried to put used bumpers on their car in an economical fashion? I love this car, and am distraught that it could be totaled for cosmetic damage when it still runs fine.

The real kicker is that I spent $470 last Saturday on brand new tires from Costco. I can't let this expense go (again, I can afford to, but this is torturing my frugal soul). Is it possible to sell tires used and swap on the buyers' tires before I total it (if I go that route)?

Time is not an issue here, frugality is (and not wasting a reliable car). Advice welcomed from car DIYers!


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: WWYD After a Car Accident
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2019, 12:15:00 PM »
Assuming it isn't totaled insurance will cut you a check for the estimated repair cost. Do the minimum to keep it driveable and pocket the rest. If it is totaled you may have the option of buying the car back after they pay you the estimated replacement value. Whether this makes sense depends on the numbers.


  • Stubble
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Re: WWYD After a Car Accident
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2019, 01:17:00 PM »
1. Make SURE car is safe to drive with a new bumper and maybe check alignment and suspension if you hit the person in front of you hard enough - even if the car initially seems to be handling fine.
2. Pocket insurance check
3. Live with cosmetic defects, especially on a well-loved and well-maintained machine

The insurance check may have to offset a rate hike coming your way if the accident was your fault.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: WWYD After a Car Accident
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 04:32:32 PM »
This was ~15 years ago, but a similar thing happened to me with respect to the tires.  Brand new tires only to total my car a week later.  I brought this up with the adjuster and they upped my reimbursement check by $200. 


  • Stubble
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Re: WWYD After a Car Accident
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 05:39:18 PM »
I once got two new tyres on my car, and blew the engine later on the very same day! Very annoying :(


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: WWYD After a Car Accident
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2019, 07:08:02 AM »
I have a 98 Honda Civic which is the generation before yours so it may not be exactly the same. But to change a front headlight assembly on the sixth generation, you have to remove the front bumper assembly which is surprisingly easy to do. Just a dozen or so screws to remove. Hoods as well are fairly easy to swap out with the help of a extra pair of hands.

So my suggestion would be what I do for my Civic which still runs like a top but occasionally needs replacement parts. Go to the local salvage yard which has dozens upon dozens of civics there and get replacement parts for pennies on the dollar. I usually call ahead and they will have them removed and waiting for me upon my arrival. I happen to have a black Civic which was a common color so I never have problems getting them in the same color. Swap the parts out at your leisure.

Car Jack

  • Pencil Stache
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Re: WWYD After a Car Accident
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2019, 09:12:28 AM »
A few comments.

In my state, driving a vehicle with a tow hitch where the receiver is in place with no trailer is illegal.  Not sure if that helps you.

Hondas are dead simple to repair.  From your description, replace the radiator (the junk yard will have 1000 that fit your car) and get the bumper cover.  The cover bolts into place mostly with plastic clips....some bolts.  If hood/fenders are bent, that's where a couple hammers work well (one outside, one inside and just straighten enough to fit ok).  If the insurance company totals the car, do a buy back.  Arrange this ahead of time and you may not need to do anything else.  Drop your insurance to liability only and enjoy a zero cost car.