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What does "totalled" really mean, anyway?

So, I have an older Volvo worth about $4500. Recently the engined kind of died and we’re told that it will cost $4,000 -5,000 to fix it. I find myself not sure what to do. If we don’t fix it, it would cost money to buy a new car. But does it make sense to fix it, when the value is the same as the damage?

Maybe. The “book value” represents what you could sell it for. It may or may not be worth more to you. A lot depends on its overall condition and how well it serves your needs.

Many years ago my Toyota pickup’s timing chain started making that “prepare yourself” clatter. The truck had 200,000 miles on it. Everone said “don’t bother, just sell it and get another”. I replaced the chain instead. The truck ran reliably (with an occasional component replacement) for another 138,000 miles, until it got totalled.

Well, “totalled” literally means that the cost of repair exceeds the value of the vehicle.

The trouble is the question of use value versus monetary value. Really if you’re keeping the car and like the car, what does it matter what the market value of the thing is? Similarly, though you could theoretically go out and buy the same car for the cost of repairs could you go out and buy the same car with a new engine and a known recent history?

The term “totalled” is used by insurance companies when the value of repairing the collison damage exceeds the book value of your car. In that case they pay you the market value or Blue Book value.

The wrecks are usually bought by parts yards or bodyshops who fix them up and sell them as used cars to unsuspecting buyers.

In your case, you have to decide what the car is worth to you in running condition. If the rest of the car is good, and you like it enough to keep driving it, there is nothing wrong with fixing it. Remember, another used car at that price is really a pig in a poke, and may require many repairs soon.

When I was in college, I bought a Chevy stovebolt 6 from a friend for $125. Over 4 years it provided reliable transportation, and I put $600 worth of repairs into it. After graduatioin I gave it to my younger brother who drove it for 2 more years. I don’t regret any of these repairs.

How old is “older?” What year is the vehicle? How many miles does it have on the odometer? Your answers to these questions will influence my answer.

When deciding about whether or not it is worth fixing an older car, it really depends on the overall condition of the vehicle and your financial alternatives.

It seems like the safer the car, the less reliable the engine. The opposite holds true as well. So if spending $4,000-5,000 will allow the car to last another 3-5 years, I think it is worth it. At best this will equate to a $66/month car payment. At worst it will amount to a $139/month car payment. In either scenario, you come out ahead compared to a $300/month car payment.

Total loss. The term applies when the cost to repair exceeds the value of the repaired car.

"Totalled’ means non-reparable more than the cost to replace the vehicle due to collision, not worn out.

It means “total loss” for the reason the other posters stated.

The wrecks are usually bought by parts yards or bodyshops who fix them up and sell them as used cars to unsuspecting buyers.

No disrepect intended but, anybody with a clue should know a vehicle for sale at a salvage yard or a body shop would have sustained some degreee of damage and had been repaired.