Brand New XTerra, Frame Damaged - replace or?

My 2 month old 2015 XTerra was rear ended and the tow hitch was shoved into the frame thus bending my frame. The insurance offered me $14000 to have a new frame installed and the other damage fixed. Naturally, I have few questions:

  1. This offer doesn’t include anything to compensate for the cars diminished value after such an extensive repair. Should it?
  2. The bend seems to be isolated to between the rear axel and rear bumper. The car tracks straight with no pull. Aside from not being able to put a new trailer hitch on would it be bad to just leave the bent frame and fix the cosmetic damage? The door frame around the rear hatch is not bent and the hatch still closes properly.
  3. After such a lengthy repair will the car ever be right again? I.e., no short/broken circuits, no stuck linkages, no malfunctioning doors/windows, etc…
  4. Will the car wind up with a salvage title?
    Thanks in advance for any help.

Hmmm…thought the Xterra was a unibody…guess not…never mind.

If the frame is replaced in whole, then there should be no diminished value there (that’s why they’re offering to pay for it). The other damage will always diminish the value some, but the accuracy of the repair will play a big part in that.

There should not be a salvage title. Again, they’re trying to maintain the value of their vehicle (it’s not really yours until it’s paid off, right?). Of course, I’m assuming you still have a loan on a new vehicle.

You should go ahead and let them fix it. Even if it tracks correctly, the substructure of the vehicle has been compromised, and the safety of the vehicle as a whole is now in question. The repairs are designed to correct all that.

If you’re really concerned about it, consider trading it in - once the repairs are done - and let someone else deal with it. You’ll lose some, because of the accident, but that’s just the way it is once you DO have an accident.

A good body shop can repair it like new…but they have to know what they’re doing.

If they’re putting a new frame on…so it should be safe.

The only way you’d get a salvage title is if the insurance company totaled it. Since they didn’t total it…you’re OK.

As for reduced value. Maybe. But it really depends. If you’re like me who keeps their vehicles over 300k miles…then there the diminished value will be minimal. If you buy a new vehicle ever couple years…then yes you may loose some money.

Hmmm....thought the Xterra was a unibody....never mind.
The new Pathfinder is...but the XTerra is still body on frame like the old Pathfinder was.
The new Pathfinder is...but the XTerra is still body on frame like the old Pathfinder was.
Makes sense. Never being a Nissan fan, I didn't know what they'd done (or not done) to it.
Makes sense. Never being a Nissan fan, I didn't know what they'd done (or not done) to it.

I’m a big fan…owned two Pathfinders with a total of almost 800k miles.

Why would someone even consider not letting the insurance repair a vehicle properly and where do they get the idea they can’t have a new hitch? As for diminished value if not repaired completely it will have even more diminished value.

There will be diminished value because the wreck will show up on a title search, and even if the repair is 100% perfect and the car is indistinguishable from a car that’s never been in an accident, you will most likely not be able to sell it for the same amount as you could have otherwise.

But insurance companies generally don’t compensate for diminished value unless you kick up a fuss and insist on it.

One of the biggest issues with diminished value claims is that you don’t realize the loss until/if you sell. When you sell makes a huge difference as noted above. If you sell next year, maybe significant loss, whereas if you don’t sell for 10 years, not so big a deal. Getting compensated for what-ifs is tough. I’ve done it and so have some family members but be prepared for the above scenario. It’s not unlike the IRS, they don’t accept a loss claim until you actually have one :wink:

Have them replace the frame, if done correctly the truck should work fine, if not, they should fix it until it does. Not doing it is a BAD idea! As for diminished value, there might be some, ask them to compensate you for it.

I’d fix it fully and keep the car. Although you might end up with a minor follow-on issue before you’re done, I don’t think what you describe is the type of damage where the car is “never right” again.

If you don’t fix it, I suspect the car would be less safe in another rear-end collision, possibly significantly so.

@Randomiser, it looks like you are picky. Continue to be that way when the truck is returned. I expect it to come back right the first time, but if it isn’t, make them fix it. You will have a rental while your truck is in the shop, and you don’t have to be in a hurry to take the truck as soon as they say it’s ready.

Swapping a frame is not as impossible a task as you might imagine. Car manufacturers do it regularly when designing and developing new cars. Body shops do it occasionally when trucks come in bent up from wrecks.

Unbolt and unplug, remove and replace. Easier to say than do, that’s why it costs $14K. Better to do it right and get it completely fixed than leave it. If done right it will be as good as if not better than new. Consider it took minutes for the assembly line to do what the body shop will spend a hours to get back square. They can spend the time to get it closer to perfect than the manufacturer can.

One thing you can expect later on if you try to sell or trade the car is somebody having a very jaundiced view of it if they discover it took 14k to fix.

Even if the assumption is made that the car is near assembly line new after the repair it may be very difficult to convince someone of that. If I were contemplating buying a car that took 14 grand to repair I’d either expect a substantial discount after a thorough checkout or I’d back clean away from it.

When you sell makes a huge difference as noted above

While this is true, it’s immaterial. Take a different example: Someone spills gasoline on your lunch. When you ask them to buy you a new lunch, they say “Well, I don’t think there’s any diminished value there because it’s possible you might choose not to eat it until next week, at which point it will be spoiled and worthless, so I don’t owe you anything.”

The guy who hit your car has no clue when or if you intend to sell your vehicle. And it’s not your responsibility to wait around until you would ordinarily have sold it and then try to get diminished value out of the guy who hit you.

My car is worth X right now. If you hit it, it is now worth less than X right now. You owe me for the difference.

That seems reasonable @shadowfax, but the diminished value even on a new car might be difficult to collect without going to court. I’m sure it is too much for small claims court, and it is probably too little to pay a lawyer to take it to court. Unless the OP can collect the diminished value from the offender’s auto insurer, it might not be worth it to go for it. I’m not an expert, but this part of the issue puzzles me.

Really…repair everything but the frame?
Repair it all! No sense in having a 2month old truck that still has major damage.

If it is repairable there will be no salvage title. Only on certain total losses.

Some insurance companies do not do diminished value.

Where will they get the frame? OEM from the manufacturer? Or from another wrecked Xterra?

If it is a new OEM frame direct from the car’s manufacturer, once installed that should leave you whole again. I wouldn’t worry much about that, provided the shop who does it has the necessary experience. Suggest to use the shop your insurance company recommends for this job.

After the repair, first turn the key to “on” but don’t start the engine. The check engine light should be on, as well as some other dash lights, probably for the alternator and brakes. (Suggest you do this experiment before you give the car to the shop for the repair, so you know exactly which dash lights should be on in this condition.) Now start the engine. If the check engine light remains on, don’t accept it. Return the car immediately to the shop. Don’t accept it until they’d debugged the check engine light.

Next, take it for a long drive and make sure it doesn’t pull one way or the other, no unusual sounds, all the interior and exterior lights work, sound system works, electric doors and windows work if applicable, and no check engine or any other dash light is on. At all, even if they only flicker. After you’ve driven it for a few weeks, have the diagnostic codes read out from the computer memory, to insure there’s no pending trouble brewing. (Good idea to read out the codes now too, before giving the car to the shop, so you have something to compare to.)

Sorry your new car got whacked, but that’s the risks of the road I guess. It is a frustrating thing to deal with. Presumably there’s no injuries to man nor beast, so that’s what’s most important. Best of luck.

First off, if someone damaged my lunch but I decided not to eat a free lunch on them THAT day, I wouldn’t be expecting them to give me cash to eat a different meal later in the week. Even so let’s extend your example to capital gains/losses. Why won’t the IRS let you claim a loss on stocks trading for less than you bought them if you haven’t sold them? You have the same ficticious loss as the car. Why not? Because it hasn’t been realized.

Remember, I have fought and won in court. Playing devils advocate here. Curious how others approach the issue. If the lunch example is your argument, I think it will get holes punched through it by the defendants ins lawyer…

The lunch example was just that - an example, for here. I find it… Odd that you would interpret it as a legal argument.

I’ve also fought and won in court, including diminished value and personal injury sufficient to fund a new, much nicer car than the one that got hit, if such things matter.