Nearly Totaled-to fix or not to fix?

I own a 2001 Chevy Malibu with 100k miles on it. Someone hit the front and rear driver side doors, and the body shops estimate are approximately $3000 to fix it. The frame damage is minimal, if at all. My question is, given the Kelly bluebook value of around $3300 Trade-In value, should I fix the damage, or take the insurance money and save it for another repair in the future? I want to drive the car until it dies. Any advice?!

Unless you are really attached to this vehicle, I would take the money and buy something newer. The 2001 Malibu was hardly a sterling vehicle; expect premature problems with engine, cooling system, climate control, exhaust, paint and body hardware, if you keep and repair it.

If it’s safe to drive, it’s really more of a lifestyle decision on your part as to whether you can stand to drive it like that. As a purely psychological point, I’d say that a few years down the road, faced with a costly repair you are probably more likely to junk the car if it still has the bashed in doors, even if you still have your $3000 repair fund. Another possiblilty is, if the damage isn’t too bad, to sell it as is and use the procedes along with your insurance windfall to buy a different car-- if you get, say, a thousand bucks for it, you could probably buy something comperable with no major damage and maybe even be able to trade up a bit.

Another option, if you are not fussy, is to buy the 2 doors from a wrecker (try to get a color match), and install them youself. If you ca’t match the color, buy some spray paint. Assumption here is that only the doors are damaged. Insurance companies would pay for new or rebuilt doors and a perfect color match, hence the high price.

I agree with this option. Or, if you buy the doors a shop should be willing to hang them for you for a nominal fee. Besides, it’s virtually impossible to perfectly match a 6 year old paint job anyway due to fading and changes in surface characteristics. A shop would do a spectral scan, mix custom, and blend, but it’s still not perfect.

I’m not sure that this helps the OP. Insurers usually pay for work done, and don’t cut a check for what they think it ought to cost. Buying doors and installing them himself will just mean that the insurer pays him less. They may not even accept the work and reject the claim.

kdeacon, check with your insurer before you do any work yourself to see if you will be reimbursed.

Also, I’m not sure that you can get the $3000 from them unless they total it. You probably have to accept the repair. If you want to add $300 or more to the cost, insist on new Genuine GM parts for your Malibu. They’ll cost a lot more than the aftermarket parts the shop would otherwise use.

In every situation I’ve dealt with, the insurance cuts a check based on an estimate and gives it to you with no obligation to actually have the repairs done. The insurance company could care less whether you actually fix your car or not. The only time you would be under any obligation to actually have the repairs performed would be if the car wasn’t paid off, which I’m assuming it is here.

Insurance companies reimburse you for your economic loss. Typically, this is the cost of repairing the damage. If the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the undamaged vehicle, they only pay the latter amount. There is no requirement that you use the money for repairs. However, if you don’t and the same part of the vehicle is damaged again, they won’t pay again. Their argument is that you did not suffer a loss the second time because the unrepaired parts were worth nothing.

In the OP’s shoes, if the other driver was at fault, I would ask the other driver’s insurance company for the retail value of the car, not the trade in value. His real loss is what it will cost him to buy a comparable replacement.

Here in OK you present the insurance company with at least 2 estimates and they cut you a check for the lowest one. After that you can do what you want.
If it were me I would take the 3 grand and hit the salvage yard up for a pair of doors; preferably the same color. You could get out of this deal with a repaired car and a chunk of money to boot.
If the local yards don’t have doors, especially matching colors, ask them to use their parts locator to see if they come up with something. Most yards are on something like the Eden Parts Locator and they will have access to a thousand yards.

When my son was in college someone backed into his Camaro and caved the right side door in pretty badly. The other driver’s insurance paid him about 1300 dollars on the repair (about 5-6 years ago).
We hit the Oklahoma City Camaro/Firebird salvage up and they just happened to have a door in the same color for 80 bucks. Couple of hours swapping it out, changing the door panel, etc. and voila; almost 1200 dollars left over to be applied to higher ed.

And actually matching colors at the junkyard is easier. I once inherited a car for free with after an accident. I found the same color car in the junkyard and since both of them were the same age the colors matched so well no one could tell the bumper and the door was changed.

I’m not sure that this helps the OP. Insurers usually pay for work done, and don’t cut a check for what they think it ought to cost. Buying doors and installing them himself will just mean that the insurer pays him less. They may not even accept the work and reject the claim.

WRONG…Insurers can not…by LAW pay for just work done. It may be a deal you yourself has worked out with them…If you have a accident with a estimate of $3000…then they MUST BY LAW pay you $3000 minus any deductable. You can fix the car or not…it’s your choice. Many insurance companies also have PREFERED repair shops that will work out deals with the repairs…which you do NOT have to use. You can use ANY repair shop you want.