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Sell/Trade-In and Buy New or Keep - Advice Needed

Firstly, I know I’ve made several mistakes already, and admittedly I feel limited in my ability to do sound calculations on my own, for an accurate assessment of my situation and what is the best decision overall when considering the financial and other aspects of Decision A vs Decision B. That said, I hope that I can get some helpful feedback rather than flames for my foolishness, so that I can make the best decision in the here and now.

Here are the details:

Bought a 2013 Civic LX new for $19,200 OTD after TTL. Kept for about 4 months and traded it in for a 2014 Subaru OB Premium after the Civic was rear ended on freeway and it was fixed under insurance. I got the OB for about $5k off MSRP, which was around $22,xxx plus TTL. I wanted a higher sitting car at the time, one with more interior room to hold bikes and what not. I also liked the solid feel and tracking of the AWD and the 4-wheel disc brakes. The OB was recently in a freeway collision where other party was found at fault. Repair under insurance was about $9200. There was some minor frame damage (between 2-10mm bend that was straightened on parts of the frame but crumple zones were reportedly uncompromised), upper left body damage including hood, radiator, water tank… so all of those were replaced w/ OEM parts since the car is less than 2 yrs old and has only 21.6k miles on it.

Due to diminished value, I not only no longer qualify for Subaru’s GTP (Gauranteed Trade-In Program) anymore, due to the moderate accident, I also have lost selling power,and cannot sell it for the same amount I could have the day before the accident. Last GTP quote in July/August was about $21000 if has a max of $15k miles, otherwise there is a deduction of X cents per additional mile. Carmax quoted me about $21000 last April when it had like 11k miles on it or so. After the recent accident, Carmax has quoted me $17,000. KBB for dealer trade-in based on “Fair” to “Good” condition (mainly because of the body work and minor frame repair) is $18,557 (fair condition) to $18,998 (good condition). $20,648 is “Good” condition sale to private party. There was no option for “fair” condition sale to private party, so I could not determine that value. So I would guess that Carmax is offering me below what KBB says I could trade in the car for, by about $1500, and below what KBB says I could sell to a private party for, by about $2600.

Because of:

  1. my general feeling that I don’t know if the body shop caught all issues or if there may be additional issues undiscovered, and due to the slight frame bend that needed straightening, I am not 100% confident in the car’s safety in another collision. The airbags did not deploy, but I was told it is because they only deploy on specific types of impacts at certain speeds, and the censors nowadays are pretty advanced.

  2. my commute being about 70 miles per day roundtrip, M-F, and the OB being 26.5mpg on average.

  3. my hardly really taking advantage of the AWD since it hardly snows and I don’t get up to the snowy mountains as much as I thought I would.

  4. the rear cargo area not really being tall enough for my bikes w/o taking off front wheels and lowering seats. (I didn’t do the measurements pre-purchase).

  5. my desire to help reverse some of the financial loss I have incurred due to bad purchase decisions by making it up thru a more fuel efficient vehicle.

I have been looking at one or more of the following options:

a) pursue a claim w/ at-fault insurance company for diminished value. I would say it is at least $2000 in value lost.

b) trade in the OB at dealership for something like a Prius C (50mpg average) and recoup some of my losses due to depreciation thru savings in fuel over the next 4-5 years at least. My OB has about $14500 loan balance remaining.

c) Keep the OB and pay it off, then sell it after it is 5 years old (another 3 yrs, 8 mos), for perhaps $12-14k (or whatever will be the going rate for the car at that time), then get a new car and have the cash from the OB sale to fund significant % of the total loan paymens on the new car. I probably wouldn’t put down all that money since I usually get at least 0.9% financing, and would instead invest it or put it in some account to gain interest, while making monthly payments on the new car.

d) keep the OB for another 10 years and then maybe sell it for $1500-2k.

I’d be saving about $736 a year on gas for 15,000k miles a year by going with Prius C over OB. That would be nearly $3000 in 4 years.

The only issue with the Prius C is it is so small, the build is not of the same quality as the OB (which feels much more substantial inside and out), and the interior materials feel comparatively cheap. Then there’s also the weaker engine and the struggling it will face going up hills. In my area, there aren’t many hills, but sometimes on weekends I may go somewhere that requires going up a hill and over a mountain, and can imagine it being a frustrating experiencing going up it in a Prius C. Its handling in rain/windy conditions may also be less solid than the OB.

I was wondering if I could get some constructive feedback and advice from the good folks here on what might be the most prudent and financially sound course of action.

Thanks in advance.

As long as it meets your needs, I’d keep the OB for another 3-4 years, and see how you feel about it then. You may decide based on its repair needs to keep it another 5, making a total of 10 in your possession.

This is one of those questions where my stock answer is: Just do what ever lets you sleep at night.

If you’re concerned about your safety, I think it’s sensible to take the Outback to another body shop, pay them for some labor time, and ask them to thoroughly examine the repairs and answer your questions about future crashes.

Assuming the Outback checks out okay, I think keeping it for a while it is the better idea at this point. Suffering in a cheap car for four or five years in order to make up only part of your depreciation loss doesn’t sound like fun to me.

Is a roof rack or some other exterior rack for the Outback not something you’re considering?

Keep the car, and get a carrier for the bikes. Or,

Sell it and buy a used Honda Element.

Keep the car and use a bike rack!

You have a salvage or damage disclosed title now. How can it have anything close to previous value? And you have bad car karma since you have had 2 major accidents.

Another vote for keep the Outback and get a bike rack.

The financial damage has already been done, and changing horses once again isn’t going to help much. May as well drive the OB and get as much mileage out of it as you can.

UncleTurbo Senior Grease Monkey
Keep the car, and get a carrier for the bikes. Or,

Sell it and buy a used Honda Element.

Yeah I was looking at Elements. They are one of the few that actually can hold a bike complete, standing upright… other options are like Ridgeline’s, Tundras and expensive luxury SUVs… none of which are viable options for me except the Element… I may take the advice of most here and just keep the OB and drive at least until it’s paid off in 3yrs 8 mos, and then decide what to do from there… maybe Honda will bring back the Element…

As for using a bike rack, I just wanted to avoid exposing the bikes to outside elements or risk damage/theft/vandalism. But I guess I’ll figure out ways to make do and make things work.

I would certainly recommend that you pursue the diminished value claim. That’s a legitimate loss that you incurred through the fault of the insured, and you are due compensation for it.

Beyond that, I would say keep the car.

I agree with @shadowfax. Keep it and pursue the claim. What sort of help are you getting from your insurer? Surely they can at least coach you on the diminished value issue.

It requires removing the front wheel, but we have something like these to transport our 2 bikes inside our outback. They fit because the handle bars are at different heights & I think we also have to remove the seatposts to make the bikes fit (haven’t used it since we got the roof rack).

or as a DIY, you can attach a couple of forkmounts to a 2x6.

I agree with @shadowfax. Keep it and pursue the claim. What sort of help are you getting from >your insurer? Surely they can at least coach you on the diminished value issue.

I have a poor adjuster… she didn’t really keep in touch or let me know the process…so i didn’t feel much assurance from her that i was being taken care of… this is AAA… the first bad experience i’ve had with them… i think she cares more about what AAA is liable for than in making sure i’m ok and taken care of…

she just said that AAA doesn’t do diminished value claims and said i may want to get a lawyer and would have to go after Mercury Insurance (at fault party’s company, which i hear can be the worst to deal with) for any diminished value… she said i’ll just have to trust the body shop did good work when i expressed concerns about future safety in the vehicle… that they won’t cover to have another party like Subaru specialist examine the work for added assurance. She said my policy also doesn’t cover ambulance/ER and instead of giving me some guidance, just said the hospital bill will likely be expensive and they’ll want me to pay up in full and on time otherwise they may charge late fees.

so i’m getting no help from insurer… the only thing she said was she’s looking into refunding my $500 deductible but didn’t provide a date.

She also suggested it’s good if i talk to the at-fault’s insurance company because they called me to get a statement… even though i’ve provided one to her and to the CHP and it’s in the police report… i don’t feel she had my back as a AAA customer at all… she referred to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster by first name and is possibly friendly with him… she was also showing bias by telling me you’d be surprised what insurance claim submitters try to pull… rather than keeping neutral and seeing that there’s two sides to it and there are also decent claim submitters that just want justice done.

I think I would keep it for 2 or 3 years to get caught up then trade. You will be putting on 20K+ a year so you want to trade at 60-80K to take the least hit. Seems to me the longer you have it the less the diminished value will be an effect, but you don’t want to get so many miles on it that the value is zip. The other option is to put a couple hundred K on it but who wants to do that? It really doesn’t matter though since you owe less than what you will get so its just a wash if you trade. With your accident history though, I think I’d want to be in a bigger vehicle.

Unless there is significant damage that wasn’t repaired properly, your Subie is still likely to be safer in an accident than a Prius C. Sure, have someone else check the work that was done on your car, as it can’t hurt and may turn up something, but don’t get your hopes too high. Your car is probably fine. The Prius C has not been very well received by reviewers. Even Consumer Reports, which loves the ‘real’ Prius, strongly dislikes the Prius C. It’s based on the Yaris, so cheaply made, rides and handles badly, is slow and loud, and isn’t very comfortable. Its only virtue is the gas mileage, which isn’t high enough for the sacrifices this car demands. The regular Prius is just as efficient, quicker, roomier, and nicer. Also more expensive, but this is one of those cases where you get what you pay for.

The diminished value claim may be worth pursuing, but again, don’t get your hopes too high as you probably won’t get much, if anything. Insurers do try to get away with paying as little as they realistically can, but those numbers you cited don’t sound grossly out of line to me. Your car is still at a point where it’s depreciating significantly every year. Your car should be worth quite a bit less a year later with more miles on it, even with no accident.

I’d just stay with the Subaru for now. You’re likely to find the Prius C unsatisfactory in comparison and the suffering won’t be adequately repaid by the lower costs. You have a nice car already that meets your needs fairly well, if not as well as you expected. At least it’s comfortable and roomy, if not very economical.

Do you want comfort or MPG?
You do realize that even if you trade your current ride in, you’ll still owe money on it, which will roll over into the new loan. Since the car appears to have a salvage title to it, don’t expect anywhere near KBB trade in value, and a lot of places/people won’t want the car because of it, either.

OP did not mention the car getting a salvage title

Why do you guys think it has one now?

In fact, the amount of damage wasn’t even close to approaching the car’s value

Personally, I think OP’s car still has a clean title

The way they talked about diminished value of the car.

I don’t think the car’s value diminished enough to require a salvage title

In fact, numbers-wise, it sounds like it’s not even close

that’s how I see it