Our 2005 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix “twin”) with 143,000 miles on is free of body panel rust, is in mechanically good condition and is a reliable runner. It got hit (other driver ran a stop sign), damaging the Vibe’s driver side rear door and quarter panel. My mechanic said the alignment is still straight, and the left rear wheel bearing seems fine. The car is driveable, but going over bumps some of the mashed metal in the rear wheel well hits the tire. The mechanic and a body shop both said the wheel well metal could be pounded so that it is clear of the tire.
The estimate to repair is $5600, and the car is worth about $4700 (retail), so the insurance company has offered us $4700, they take the car, or $3500 and we keep the car.
We’ve had the car since August 2018. As I mentioned it is reliable. Since we purchased it I had a motor mount and a brace replaced, new rotors and pads on the front, new battery, new tires, changed the plugs and fluids. Oh, and I also have a set of lightly used winter tires and rims for the car, too. We were expecting to use it for at least 2 or 3 more years (college student car). I just hate the thought of driving a body damaged vehicle.
A couple of people have said, just drive it, saying “Who cares how it looks?”. If you have been in this situation, how did you proceed? Is there anything to consider that I am overlooking?