Collision Repair: How Much Damage Is Too Much?

From minor bumps to high-speed crashes, most car accidents result in damages that require the expertise of an auto body repair shop. Collision repair isn’t always simple. Even minor accidents can cause auto body damage that is expensive and timely to repair. The type of impact and the style of the damaged car both play a role in determining how much damage has occurred.

Determining a Total Loss

Many drivers think that there’s no hope if their insurance company says that their car is ‘totaled.’ A car that is totaled is not necessarily unrepairable though. The extent of the damage has very little to do with whether or not an insurance company declares a total loss. Instead, the decision is based on the costof the collision repair in comparison to the fair market value of the car. If repairing the auto body damage will cost more than the car is worth, it is said to be totaled.

Structural Damage

Correcting damage to a vehicle’s frame is one of the most expensive types of collision repair, but undoing structural damage is not impossible. A knowledgeable auto body repair shop will generally inspect a wrecked vehicle for misalignment before anything else. If the car doesn’t meet the exact measurements of the manufacturer, advanced machines are used to pull the frame back to its original specifications.

Rear End Collisions

Depending on the speed, a car that is rear ended can suffer quite a bit of damage. Structural damage is not uncommon after a powerful rear collision. The amount of damage will also depend on the car. In a recent IIHS study, a low-speed rear end collision in a compact car with a poorly designed bumper can result in more than $3,500 in auto body damage. On the other hand, a car with dent-resistant plastic body panels can often be repaired for less than $200.

Frontal Impacts

Front-end collision repair is often more extensive than rear end damage. At higher speeds, a head-on collision can cause damage to the front bumper, the hood, the windshield, and the quarter panels. If the damage is minor, the auto body technician may choose to repair the panels rather than replace them. Unless the parts are pre-painted, the body shop will also have to match the paint color and re-spray each panel before reassembling the car.

Rollovers

A car that rolls over generally has much more auto body damage than a vehicle involved in a frontal or rear end crash. Damage to the frame is usually inevitable in a rollover. There is a possibility that every piece of the car has suffered at least minor body damage. The decision to repair a vehicle that has rolled over should be made carefully. Extensive damage like this could require additional mechanical work, as well.

Whether auto body damage appears to be major or minor, an experienced collision repair specialist should examine the car for unseen damage. Accidents can cause cosmetic damage that is fairly easy to repair, as well as frame damage or mechanical troubles that are much more costly to fix. Almost any type of collision damage can be repaired, but sometimes it is more cost efficient to scrap the vehicle.

It’s Spring, There Is a Hail Storm – Hail Damage Repair Information

Luckily for car owners without garages, most hail storms do not cause body damage to cars until the hail is larger than ½ inch in diameter. Even then, it takes bigger hail than that to cause significant damage. The first thing that happens after a hail storm is car dealers offer Hail Sales and hail repair outfits pop up like mushrooms after a rain.

  1. Hail Sales offer damaged cars at prices well below book value. However, the real result is that car dealers simply make bigger commissions and sell more cars. Any car sold with unrepaired damage means that the damage was either too severe or too expensive to be worth fixing. Every car that a dealer can fix before sale with Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) will have been fixed already.
  2. Repainting a car after PDR or other hail damage removal adds extra costs. PDR works well for small dents where the dent has no cracked paint within the dent.
  3. Dents to large for PDR to repair must be handled at a conventional auto shop and the repairs will need to be painted and finished.
  4. Large or deep dents or those where the metal is very stretched or even cracked require a body shop repair job. Deep dents that break the paint will result in rust to the metal body of the car if left unrepaired.
  5. Some insurance companies pay car owners the amount on its estimate, regardless of whether the owner gets the repairs done or not. Keeping the insurance money without fixing it is legal but choosing to leave damage unrepaired can impact your ability to get full-coverage insurance on the car. It can also affect the amount you get for future repairs or similar damage since future occurrences will be excluded from the coverage.
  6. Having a car’s hail damage repaired using insurance money does result in the repair being listed on the CarFax vehicle report from that point onward. This helps insurance companies avoid bogus damage claims and also is used by car buyers to know the damage and repair history of their potential vehicle.
  7. Owners who choose to leave it unrepaired may find the cost of the hail damage deducted from damage claims later in the life of the car. Document any repairs to hail damage to ensure future claims are paid in full.
  8. If you own your car outright, you need to decide how long you plan to own the car and how important the repair is to you. If you have a car that has little value and plan to drive it until it dies, there is not much point in repairing hail damage.
  9. If you have an active loan on your car, your lien holder will probably require verification that the damage was fixed. In some cases, they might allow you to apply the hail damage repair check to the balance of your car loan.
  10. Get damage estimates and compare that with the claim payout offer minus your deductible before making a decision about filing an insurance claim.
  11. The insurance company may “total out” an older car with only relatively minor hail damage simply because the vehicle has less useful life remaining. Motorcycles can handle very little hail damage before insurance companies consider them a total loss.

When checking for hail damage or getting an insurance estimate, make sure to check windshields for cracks and chips. If glass is involved, get that repaired and make sure the permanent seals along windshield and rear window edges are properly repaired and set, too.