Repair or scrap - 1998 Nissan Maxima

My heart is broken. I have a 1998 Nissan Maxima. Not a problem with the car. back in 2002 someone ran into my car and I had to have the front end repaired. In 2005 I had to have the front end rebuilt as the rods were not replaced in the 2002 accident. The car runs great and has 140,000 miles on it. Does not burn oil. Runs as great as the day it was purchased. Paint and interior like new. It was always garaged. My wife ran into the back end of another car. The insurance company is telling me that it is totaled. The front end is smashed. Hood crinkled and left front fender too. The radiator was not cracked and the car is drivable. I told the insurance company that I’d like to see it repaired. They tell me that the car will be labeled as a “salvage vehicle” and worthless. It may be to them but I know the car and although I can buy a used car for the money on the damages, what will I get. My dilemma is do I get the car repaired and pay extra for it and have a great running, great looking car or do I take the money ($4,000) and get a used car? Who knows what that will be. Also, the Maxima is sporting brand new tires. The Maxima is driven very little. It is used essentially as a 2nd car when my car is in the shop or when my wife has to run to the doctors office while I am at work. Any advice?

First get a second opinion on your Maxima. Have a good independent mechanic inspect your Maxima and see if it’s worth repairing. Insurance companies routinely “total” vehicles because of monetary factors without regard to the condition of the vehicle. A “salvaged title” vehicle is worthless for resale but if the vehicle is safe and you want to keep it…that’s another matter entirely. Having said all this…a 98’ Nissan Maxima will not usually bring $4K when sold so you might want to take the money and buy another vehicle. The ball is in your court on that decision.

We have a friend who went through this twice. She had a 1996 Ford Taurus wagon and a 1990 Honda Civic which she inherited from her mother’s estate. Her brother came to town to visit a couple of years back and someone hit the right front side of the Honda. The insurance company called it a total loss. For reasons I don’t understand, she bought it back from the insurance company and found a body shop that would do the repairs. Then this past March, someone backed into the left side of the Ford Taurus. The car was drivable and the doors did open and close. She decided she wanted a new car (good decision, she takes trips and a 1996 Taurus wagon is too old for a single woman to be driving on 1500 mile trips). She bought a brand new Honda Civic, but also bought the Ford Taurus wagon back from the insurance company and her service station knew a body man who could fix it up. The Honda dealer where she bought the new Honda gave her $500 for the 1990 after she made the deal. The reason for keeping the Taurus wagon is that it is useful for hauling things around (she does a lot of gardening).
At any rate, if the car is drivable, you can probably find someone to do some bodywork and get some use from it. At this point, you really don’t care what kind of title it has.
The big decision you have to make is whether or not you can get a suitable replacement for $4000.

It’s hard enough rebuilding a front-end once, let alone twice…Your car has no frame, just a sheet-metal structure that buckles and bends in a collision…“Pulling it out” and installing salvage yard body parts (you are not going to find new parts for a 15 year old car) is loves labor lost…Time to move on…

missleman and Triedaq, excellent comments. At this point I am getting an estimate on a repair. The big question is to keep it or replace it. Thank you for your suggestions. They are quite good.

Thanks Caddyman, your comment makes sense. It won’t cost me to get an estimate on repair. I’ve had the car over 14 years. Before I shoot old paint, let me see what it costs. Thank you again!

@tonymaxima keep driving the car.

Fix the turn signal

Make sure the hood opens and closes

If the car doesn’t pull or make ominous noises from the accident, so much the better