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Keep wrecked car as salvaged or no?

My dad’s 2001 Toyota Camry was recently in an accident. The repairs are cosmetic but cost more than the car is worth. Dad wants to keep the car for another month or two so he can take his time finding a new one. I’m concerned that he’ll have a hard time getting rid of it. If he does go down this road, it’s hard to know what is fair from the insurance company as I don’t know how he gets rid of it once he’s ready to move on. Donate? Scrap? Hidden fees?

Any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks - Susan


Getting rid of it isn’t hard, once you’re done. You can take it to most parts yards, and they’ll take it off your hands. They may give you something for it if it’s in running condition (that is, the powertrain).

The car’s valued somewhere between 5000 and 8500, in fair to good condition. Obviously you won’t get anywhere near that.

Most insurance companies will total out a car, and write you a check. You may be able to buy it back for that same check, and call it a wash, but they won’t insure it unless it’s fixed. You may be able to find 3rd party insurance through someone else.

The hardest thing to do will be legally drive it. Consider how much those cosmetic repairs are going to cost to make it legal, and go from there. If they cost nothing, and the lights, horn, wipers, etc all work, everything is still mechanically sound, then you could go for it, but you’ll get nothing out of it if it’s not repaired. You may get scrap value if you trade it in on a new one, but they might just refuse to take it.

Do the math, and see what you come up with. Me, I’d just accelerate my shopping process and use that insurance check as a down payment.

If your dad wants to keep the car, have him tell the insurance company he wants to retain salvage of the car. The insurance company will then deduct about 10% from the settlement price of the claim. So your dad gets to keep the car and still gets a check. I’ve done this many times with my vehicles that were damaged from another drivers fault.

If the vehicle is still drivable it can’t be that badly damaged. So your dad could sell it on something like Craigs list as a repairable vehicle once he finds a replacement vehicle. And believe me, a 2001 Camry with minor body damage will sell. Hell! I’d even buy it!


My daughter bought a new 1992 Saturn, when they still made good ones. She drove it until, um, 2006 when her boy was born, and her husband said she was not driving that baby around in that little car. He got her an Odyssey.

Several years before that, it got hit from the back. You couldn’t even tell it had been hit, but the adjuster could. They totaled it, she took the discount to keep it, and it drove fine. As I said, you wouldn’t know it had been hit, it had plastic body panels, but the adjuster could, and as a 14 year old car, it wasn’t worth fixing. It was insured for liability, but of course they would not insure it for collision, since it was paid off once.

When they got the Odyssey, they donated it to the Rio Grande Bible Insitute, I think it was, which took bids. They got a paper which told them the sale price, a few hundred dollars, for tax deduction. It was sold as-is, disclosed as once totaled. It may have had a lot of miles left in it.

If the car is safe to drive, let him keep it. When he finds a car he wants he can sell the Camry with a listing in Craigslist, donate it, or perhaps get a few bucks trading it in. Are you worried he will find it difficult to get rid of the car? It is easy to get rid of it. Perhaps you are worried he will not want to get rid of it at all?

Thanks to each of you for your responses. I certainly sounds like getting rid of it later should not be a concern. Turns out the offer from the insurance company was quite reasonable and the buy back low. I’m not worried that he won’t ever sell it, just that it would be a hassle to get rid of.

My only other question - Now that he’s going to buy it back, does he need to take it to get a salvaged title? We are in Kansas and I’ve seen something about this on the KS DMV website, but I’m not sure if it applies. Anyone have any experience with this?

Thanks again for all the responses!