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How Important Are These Repairs?

Recently I ran over something that fell off of a truck in front of me. It caused quite a bit of damage to my gas tank and undercarriage including the exhaust pipe and cross member. There is also a small hole in the floor under the driver foot area. The rest are smaller issues like gaskets, etc. According to Toyota, parts would be $4000-5000 for a total of approximately $10,000 with labor. An option aside from just having the repairs done is to receive a check for the “difference between the worth and salvage” amounts (I don’t yet know this figure) and keep the car. A somewhat mechanical friend is encouraging me to go with that option and use some of the money to pay for only the most crucial repair which he says is the gas tank (I can’t fill it past half full without the pump shutting off). In that case, I might have some money leftover which would be very beneficial to me currently (lost my job last year). My mechanial knowledge is very limited so my questions are:

  1. How dangerous (if at all ) is it to have a damaged cross member, bent exhaust pipe, and hole in the floor?
  2. If those repairs aren’t NECESSARY and I just have the gas tank repaired, will that come back to haunt me on a Car Fax if I try to sell the car someday?
  3. Any idea what it might cost to have just the gas tank repaired?

Thanks in advance for your insight!

Too bad you didn’t get the license number of the truck. If you had you could have had the driver/owner of the truck pay for all the damages to the vehicle.

This is one of those situations where if you can’t see the damage you can’t form an opinion.


I am working with the other driver’s insurance. They are the ones who will pay for the repairs or give me the worth/salvage difference. Of course just having the repairs done is easiest, but I could really use the money from the other option - if I could get away with only having the gas tank repaired.

Yes but…
The answer to being able to make do with patch up repairs all lies in
– inspection –
of said damaged areas.
There are vast variables in being able to ; not fix…or fix up instead of replace…or must replace or die !..
new parts or used…straighten, hammer, glue…etc

The answers all lie in seeing and assessing each point.

Not an easy call without the car up on a rack and hands/eyes on.

What year is this Yaris and how many miles on it?


2008, 56000 miles

Is there any leak in the damaged exhaust pipes?
If so, I would definitely get that fixed.

I have not noticed leaking of any kind. Honestly, the only difference I have noticed is I can’t fill the gas tank; that’s what prompted me to take it to a mechanic. I know dealership mechanics can sometimes “exaggerate” the necessity of repairs, so I’m trying to figure out if a dented exhaust pipe or damaged cross member are must-have repairs…

Just as a wild guess ;
new …well, used gas tank. ( repairing is a lot of man-hours better spent replacing )
Exh pipe can go to an indy exhaust shop to assess. maybe cut and weld a replacement section.
Floor hole…plate steel/aluminum glued and riveted as a patch.
Cross member…? now we’re talkin’ '‘gotta see it.’'
which cross member ? how bent? what does it do/hold ?

Get rid of the car. If the underside of the vehicle was damaged to the point where the gas tank, floor, exhaust, and cross member? (engine craddle?) were damaged, it’s not worth taking a risk of a settlement. Get the money from other insurance company to go out and buy another used Yaris with as close of the same year and mileage. And everyone ends up happy.


I wish, Tester! Actually, the insurance company wants to call my car a “total loss” but I would likely only get around $8000 for it which would be applied to my loan first. Because I extended the loan last year, I currently owe about $7500 which would leave me with about $500 and no wheels. In a perfect world, I would use the $500 as a down payment on another car but due to my aforementioned job loss (and current unemployment), a new loan is out of the question. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

I suppose just letting Toyota do the repairs is the best bet.

Maybe you should get other estimates. Get at least 2 more. If the insurer will give you the money to repair the car, you can spend it at a less expensive place. The Toyota dealer is not the only body shop you can use. It might turn out that you already have the lowest estimate, but you don’t know until you shop for repairs. Ask everyone you know for a good and inexpensive body shop. Eventually, a few will show up a few times. Start there.

Update: a base Yaris with auto transmission and no options is worth about $8500 on a dealer’s lot. If you have options or an S with options, it is worth more. A loaded S with auto transmission is worth about $10,900. The only way you can get 10 grand out of them is if you have the S. Unless you were injured. I’m not suggesting you should go for millions, but if you were injured in the accident, it could be worth a few grand. You probably need to talk to a lawyer about that one.

Here’s some sage advice. If you have a chance to pay off a loan while unemployed do it.

With the way the economy is you don’t know when the the next job will come up. I’ve seen too many friends/aquaintances lose their vehicles because the next job would be just around the corner. Only to not keep up with the payments. So the vehicle gets reposessed.

So you end up with no wheels. But that’s what friends/relatives do. They let you borrow or drive you to the next job interview.

I know it sucks.


My vote is with Tester. I would not want that loan hanging over my head while unemployed. A repossession is not the final word if it ever came down to that. A repop could well be followed by a deficiency judgement and then it’s open season on any future paychecks, bank accounts, or other assets.

You could try playing a bit of hardball over the issue and maybe raise the ante to 8500-9000.
That could pay off the note and leave you with some car wiggle room on finding some kind of wheels anyway.

In case any previous commenters are curious, I thought I’d give an update (and beg for another bit of advice)…

After deeming it “totaled” the insurance eliminated the option of repairs. Because I’m not currently able to undertake a new loan, I had to keep my car and take the ‘value-minus-salvage’ amount which had to be applied directly to my loan. The mechanic said none of the damage would “put me at the side of the road;” that the torn crossmember wouldn’t get worse unless I hit something again, and the damaged exhaust pipe isn’t dangerous but can affect fuel efficiency or possibly affect the engine in time. The holes in the floor could eventually rust but pose no immediate problem. He never dropped the gas tank to investigate that because the insurance stopped him once the dollar amount got too high. My (somewhat mechanical) friend suggests I just drive the hell out of it while I can, and get into something else as soon as I’m able.

My newest dilemma: When I dropped my car at Toyota, it was very dirty (winter in Montana) so after I retrieved it I went through a (touchless) car wash. Yesterday, in the sunlight, I noticed several scratches (a couple quite deep) and scuffs that were not there before (this was my first brand new vehicle and I’ve taken excellent care of it and was aware of the 1 scratch and 2 dimples already present). I also noticed an area (about the size of my hand) down low behind the rear tire that looked like a splash of dried muddy water. However, it feels rough, with rubbery jagged edges, like the paint was scraped off. I can only assume these things were caused by whatever equipment Toyota used to lift my car. I can’t imagine why they would be so careless! I’m irate but my friend doesn’t think Toyota will do anything about it. I only want the scratches and scuffs buffed out, and the scrape repainted. I know these marks won’t affect the performance and it may seem petty of me, but the principal of the matter is that they caused this and should be accountable. Agree?

My question: Do you think Toyota will refuse to do anything? Why? Any advice on how to approach them without sounding like I’m out to take advantage of them? Again, thanks for any input.

I agree with your friend. Good luck on finding a job. Just a bit of job interview advice, the most important question you need to answer at the interview will probably not be asked. That is, what can you contribute to the bottom line.

Keith, I had to edit my last message to include my actual question. Any thoughts on that part…?

You have just had an insurance claim for a totaled car. I doubt that Toyota will take responsibility for this. It would be hard to prove that they did it unless you “caught them in the act”, or at least pointed it out to them when you picked up the car, but since you didn’t notice it until a while later, you can’t prove it was them.

BTW, even a touchless car wash can damage your car, though that is unlikely. Something would have to be broken and then all their customers would be seeing similar damage. It could also be road damage, bad luck. Check with your autoparts store to see if they carry the color match paint in a spray can that matches your vehicle, get a can and just spray over the damage. I do that a lot as I live in the country and get a lot of road damage like that.

It seems like bad luck comes in three’s, first the job loss, then the debris from the truck and now this. So you should be due for some good luck now.