Greetings, denizens of our fair online city,
Our dear 2002 Honda Civic (120,000 miles, spotless maintenance and repair record) was recently declared totaled by our insurance company (valued at $6500) following an accident.
We are now faced with a decision: do we A) re-purchase the car as salvage and repair it, or B) buy another car?
Considerations regarding A: we own the car in full, but our insurance settlement would have the salvage value and “post-assessment re-assembly labor” subtracted from it in addition to the deductible; we live in Washington DC, and so would not have to have the car re-titled and re-inspected (i.e., we could drive it right back onto the road after the repairs were finished); the trustworthy repair shop we would likely take the car to is on the same block as the shop where it’s currently parked – both of which are in our neighborhood; the re-sale value of the car doesn’t matter to us, as we had assumed we would keep it for the length of its reasonably drivable life before the accident, BUT insurance-wise the value of the salvaged and repaired car would be considerably lower than its value before the accident (so if someone were to rear-end us driving out of the repair lot, the car would be totaled again and we’d get a lot less money).
Considerations regarding B: while we could afford it without a lot of trouble, this would be more expensive (we would replace our car with a newer vehicle); we would have to go through the rituals of car purchase (travel to dealer, dealing with dealer, test drive, pre-purchase inspection) and inspection and registration (the Washington DC DMV is somewhere around the 6th or 7th Circle in Dante’s Inferno); we had not wanted to buy another car for a few/several more years, BUT there would be no worries about damage that went undetected by the insurance adjuster AND the insurance value of the new car would be equal to its value for us.
We’re not concerned about safety issues for either option, as the insurance company’s estimate has included a structural examination of the car (new frame rails and impact bar are needed, though the air bag did not deploy; in addition, one of the mechanics at the insurance company’s shop has already offered to purchase the car from us at above salvage value – possibly so that he could fix it up for one of his kids, which makes me think that if the needed repairs were completed, the car would be fine.)
While we do have affection for this car, we want to do what is most likely to be most cost-effective for us in the long term. What thoughts do folks have – should we salvage and repair, or buy a newer car?