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While shopping for a used Gen 1, I've come across 2 separate CA salvaged titled cars. Both were rear ended causing only body damage, no frame damage. I'm surprised (suspicious?) that only a rear bumper replacement would total out the car? Is this entirely possible with the TSX, or should I be wary of the seller hiding something else!

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Be sure to inspect or have someone else inspect for frame damage.
That said.... These days insurance companies (or their affiliated body shops by accident) total cars out pretty quickly. Especially cars over a decade old like ours. I was sideswiped a couple of years ago:
IMG_20161101_102506~2.jpg

The first estimate my insurance company received totaled out the car. I had some words with the body shop and suddenly they were able to do it for significantly less. I thought the second estimate was still ridiculous but my insurance company accepted it. I had the insurance company write me a check directly and I had the car fixed elsewhere, used the extra money to fix up my interior and a whole bunch of other little things.
Back to the point: the above pictured damage was pretty minor in my opinion. I was blown away my car was almost totaled for it. I have no idea how my headlight escaped the accident unscathed but I suspect if it had been damaged my car would have been totaled, adjusted estimate or not.
 

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Yes, if you're interested in the car despite its salvage title, find a body shop and mechanic you trust to do a thorough inspection. The label just means the insurance company won't pay out on the car's market value any more, as far as they're concerned it's worth more to junk and replace than to fix it... Which on a ~15 year old car, with a potential blue book value of around $5000 depending on the year and mileage, is not hard to get to if there are multiple panels and bumpers that would need replacing and repainting - once parts and labor get close to $5K that's going to be their call.

So it's quite likely it's purely cosmetic stuff and you could safely drive the car, fixing it up looks-wise over time as you can or care to do.

Hopefully you live in a state where water damage is specifically required to be noted on a salvage title. I believe CA is one. The worst cases are cars that were submerged in a flood - after drying out and having the mats replaced they may look very good cosmetically, but the electronics are damanged and prone to shorting out or being intermittent in a way that will drive you nuts. Salt water is even worse, if it was storm flood damage from a coastal area.

Check the VIN history to make sure the car wasn't brought in from out of state, too, from a state that doesn't require water damage indication.
 

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The first estimate my insurance company received totaled out the car. I had some words with the body shop and suddenly they were able to do it for significantly less. I thought the second estimate was still ridiculous but my insurance company accepted it. ...

Back to the point: the above pictured damage was pretty minor in my opinion. I was blown away my car was almost totaled for it.
You got both estimates from the exact same body shop and people? Hmm. My insurance company, GEICO, requires me to go to specific GEICO affliated shops, supposedly specifically to avoid this kind of scenario of "here are two prices, you can pocket the difference from the insurance company".

I'd wonder how the second quote was so much cheaper. It's usually because they'll use non-OEM parts or paint. I've done that maneuver when I was in my 20s, got an insurance payout figure from their official estimator, then took it to some independent shop who said they'd do it for far less. In every case I went that route, after about 4 years, 5 tops, it went to shit. The paint faded out and didn't match, parts squeaked and didn't align right.

I took it to a "real" shop to see what it would take to do a better job the second time (one of the GEICO affiliated ones, but not under insurance coverage, on my own dollar). They'd not used the right primer (or possibly not used primer at all?!), used only one coat of non-OEM paint, didn't clearcoat it right or well, and it the case of the rear panel work (I had gotten rear-ended), they had cut corners by using not just obviously (to them) used parts, but had repurposed from another make of car they probably just had lying around. And got to fit together with bondo.

I'm sure there are independent "we'll do it cheaper" shops that exist that will do a better job than that - maybe even the one I want to, as to be fair, I had specifically gone shopping across multiple shops that time looking for the lowest price to make the car "look OK", and I told them that, so it's possible had I said "I'll pay $500 more for better parts/work" they'd have done it.

The point is, when it comes to body work, I've found you usually get what you pay for.
 

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Yes both estimates came from the same shop. It was an affiliate shop and they weren't helping me to pocket any difference. Their second quote did involve switching to an aftermarket fender and paint, and I don't know what else, whatever it took to not total the car. That shop still didn't do the work for me, just provided the number for the check my insurance cut me. Even then it was a high mileage car and I am function over form. Spending $1000 on perfect paint blending for one fender made no sense since there were already rock chips all over the front end among other minor issues. I bought a fender and had a shop paint match it to the old one, I replaced it myself. Most of the other scuffs on the door and bumper just buffed out (well enough for condition of my paint anyway). I spent the rest of the money fixing up the interior, engine bay and wheels.
 
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