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Damaged trunk

I was rear ended recently and the insurance company gave me two options for my '96 Corolla - let them keep it and they will pay me a certain amount, I keep it and they pay me a smaller amount.

My mechanic says it’s okay, apart from the torn sheet metal in the trunk. Should I repair or replace?

Have any pictures of the damage?
That will give us a better idea what you are talking about.


Sorry, no. The part of the trunk that is severely damaged is the floor part.

In case you and/or your mechanic are not aware of it, the “floor” of your trunk is actually a structural part of the unitized construction of this car, because of the reality that the car does not have a conventional frame.

Personally, I would not want to continue to drive a 15 year old car whose structural integrity has been compromised. If you feel comfortable driving a car that no longer has the original crash resistance/passenger protection that was designed into it, so be it, but I would drop this car like a bad habit.

I suggest that you take the “larger amount” and move on to a car built in the last decade.

So I can’t have that part replaced?

You can have the damaged section of the trunk floor cut out, and have new steel welded in. However, your car is not an old-fashioned “body on frame” design that readily allows for simply cutting-out and replacing structural steel.

Even though a '96 vehicle never had the amount of passenger protection designed into it that more modern cars have, the fact remains that the structure of that car was very carefully designed, using the technology of the time to provide maximum passenger protection in the event of a collision.

The questions that should be asked at this point include:

Is the new steel an alloy of the exact same composition as the original steel?
Has the new steel been formed in a huge hydraulic press in the exact shape of the original steel, whose conformation was specifically designed to provide a “crush zone”?
Will the body shop guarantee that the car’s structure will perform exactly like that of a '96 Corolla that was not repaired, in the event of a crash?

Trust me–if the body shop answers your questions HONESTLY, they would have to answer “no” to at least two of those questions, and probably all three of those questions. Or–better yet–ask them to give you their assurances in writing, on their company stationery.

Not to mention the rear end will never track correctly again.

According to the mechanic, the alignment is fine.

You need to take it to a body shop, not a mechanic, and get an estimate on how much $$ to fix. Only with that can you make a decision.

I did get a body shop estimate, it’s less than what the insurance company will give me. Of course, they could get into it and find out it costs more.

It’s 15 years old and has served you well for the time you’ve had it. Time to move on

Let the insurance company total it. If the car got rear ended and the floor is damaged then most likely the rear bumper, rear body panel and possibly the deck lid is damaged. Since the floor is buckled most likely the deck lid is not fitting properly therefore water and carbon monoxide will get inside. Even if the rear body panel is ok it will need to be removed to replace the floor, it will be ruined when removed.

Total the car

If its the floor of the trunk and not just the trunk lid, that would be mucho labor to fix it and not worth it. I would take the money and get something else. You have more pride than to drive around a car with the rear end all smashed in. If it was just the trunk lid, I’d say put a junk yard one on but structural damage is something else.