Dents and Paint Scratches on Century Buick '99

A couple of days ago, I borrowed my friend’s car and accidentally scraped against a concrete pole pulling it out of a parking lot. Flustered, I made a lot of mistakes that resulted in a pretty serious dent and paint scratches along two on the passenger side doors. I offered to pay him for the damages to get it fixed, but it is quoted to cost about $2000. It’s a 1999 Century Buick with more than 250k miles on it.

I personally don’t feel like it’s worth sinking that much money to fix it, especially when he’s going to be buying a new car in a couple of months… Paying for a new paint job is reasonable to prevent rust, but the rest is cosmetic. I would rather give him the money to put towards a new car that he’s planning on purchasing. What are your opinions on it?

I guess an insurance claim isn’t being submitted here for some reason. In that event, you owe him the cost of the repair. It’s his business if he chooses to fix it or keep the money.

Well, I know that it’s his business. I’m going to pay whatever the cost ends up when he does get it fixed. I just feel like if the damage cost is that high, I really would rather give him the money to put towards a new car instead of sinking it into a really old car…

If this is truly a friend and this friend is planning to trade in the car soon, then they should be willing to accept the lesser of either the diminished trade in value or the repair costs. If it just has standard equipment, then the trade in value in excellent condition was about $1300. It should be worth about $200 in its present condition.

Between the $2000 estimate to repair and the up to $1100 diminished value, there is some room for negotiation with your friend.

Try a paintless dent repair place for the dents, then a little touch up paint, the nail polish type, hopefully good enough. Those paintless dent repair places are great, I had a ding in the hood of a truck from a ladder falling on it, $1200 at the body shop, $75 at the paintless dent repair.

I think you two will have a better chance of maintaining a good friendship if you simply return the car to the condition you borrowed it. Pay what necessary to a good body shop to have the restoration work completed and be done with it. Only if your friend volentarily insists (without your urging) that you pay him in cash instead should that sol’n even be considered.

If you follow George’s advice, be sure to get three estimates from different body shops. You might get lucky if a body shop can find doors at a local junk yard that are the same color, then repair costs would be minimized if they don’t have to paint them.

The maximum you owe him is the value of the car before the accident minus the value now. No insurance company would pay $2000 for a $1300 car and neither should you.

I can’t agree w/you on this one oldtimer. In my way of thinking at least, the borrower has the responsibility to return the item in the same condition as when it was borrowed. Commonly applied insurance company policy is not relevant in this situation.

Insurance companies can do this not because it is their policy but because the law says you can’t recover more than your loss. Are you seriously saying that if you bought a $1000 dollar car and someone borrowed it and did $7000 collision damage to it you would expect them to fork over a $6000 profit to you? No, they owe you what you lost, a $1000 car.

as @keith said, finding used doors with the same color could save you some money.

My mom messed up a door and door post on her car a few years ago (trust me, the door was not worth repairing, and the door post was tweaked)

After not being able to find a matching color door in ANY of the local junkyards, I removed the door and brought the car to a reputable, local body shop and asked them what they could do for me.

The owner used his connections and found a same color door (complete, with glass, window regulator, switches, door panel, etc.) from several counties away. He straightened the door post and installed the door, all for $750 cash. I got paperwork, so it was all legal. I thought that was a pretty good deal. The complete door alone supposedly cost $300, and it looked great.

What the OP wants is his opinion, but not his choice. He borrowed a car and did serious damage. Repairing both drivers doors and paint a pretty big job, and the body repair quote seems reasonable. The cost of a repair is not age dependent on the car. The OP should just pay the money and try to ignore what the car owner does with it.

The trade in or resale value of a '99 with 250K miles is pretty much zilch either way. But the car is really a junker with that mileage and smashed in doors. A least in decent looking shape it is a $500-1000 clunker worth selling.

Lesson - don’t borrow anyone’s car. It is a great way to lose money or lose a friend.

What if for some reason OP’s friend keeps the car after all?

Because they fell on hard times

Because their child will now drive the car

Or maybe it would just be a good spare car to have around

In that case, the car definitely needs to be fixed.

If the car is truly worth $1300 in good condition then it’s plain and simple: The OP totaled the car. I agree with many here that the maximum he owes is the value of the car, not the repair cost.

The original post also sounds like both parties are being very reasonable there (the OP even being willing to pay $2000). His question was also not how much he should pay but what to do with the $2000. I think it would be downright stupid to make $2000 worth of cosmetic repairs to a $1300 car.

I once bought an '87 Buick Park Avenue that had been scratched by a tow truck. The lady I bought it from collected the insurance money and sold it to me for $500.

I continue to believe that when you borrow something, it is your responsibility to return it in the same condition as when you borrowed it. In the case cited by oldtimer – $7,000 repair fee to fix a $1,000 vehicle – the borrower would have the option (in my way of thinking) to buy another identical car in the same condition,. same mileage, etc … and return that to the car lender if they wanted, instead of doing the repair on the existing vehicle. But the burden would be on the the borrower then to do whatever is necessary to find the close-as-identical as possible replacement car and purchase it, placing the title in the car lender’s name. And the borrower would additionally be burdened to reimburse the car lender for a rental car in the meantime.

If the borrower doesn’t want this time consuming responsibility, then they shouldn’t borrow the car in the first place.

If the lender and borrower can reach other terms agreeable to both, that is a perfectly good option too.

It seems to me that the solution might be for the OP to buy the car from the current owner for market value before the accident. That might be as high as $1300. I’ve seen signs around me indicating that someone will buy any car for $600. If the OP could find that buyer or someone like him, the loss would be $700.

Thanks for everyone’s responses.

I doubt that I’m going to be losing a friendship (well, boyfriend) over the dents. He was just upset that I scratched his car as much as I did, since I could have just woken him up to fix my turn mistake instead of trying to fix it myself. (I learned that straightening the wheel is an awful idea.) He’s in a much better financial situation than I am, and me paying him is more of a responsibility thing than him not being able to afford it.

I didn’t total the car. It isn’t serious of enough of damage that it affects the performance of the car. It’s still completely drivable. Paying for a rental car just because of a couple of dents is kinda silly. He’s just more annoyed that the car has dents in it. It’s really just cosmetic damage that’s really expensive to fix. The bulk of the cost is labour. The parts is only $300, with the body shop quoting $1700 in labour cost.

What we worked out is that he’s going to pay to get it fixed, and I just repay him for the cost whenever I’m able since he’s in a way better financial situation than I am ($9k/mo internship vs. full-time student me). I know 100% that whatever money I give him will be towards repairs. I’m just a little frustrated that he’s even bothering to fix cosmetics when he’s planning on buying a new car in September…

I’ll look into if a paintless dent fix will work.

@oublie don’t bother calling paintless dent

They can’t fix deep gouges

If its just cosmetic he should forget it. Its an old junker anyway.