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How An Accident Will Affect Your Car’s Value

You’re driving down the street in a car you’ve had for 20 years and it’s clearly about to bite the dust. You’re ready to sell, in fact you might be on your way to the dealership to see how much you could get for a trade-in. Suddenly, another car bashes into you. Your door is caved in, the glass is smashed, your wheel is bent but all you see when you get out of your car to assess the damage is a ton of dollar signs. You’re not wrong, this will be expensive, not only to repair the car but also to the value of the car. Stay informed, and know how accidents can negatively affect your car’s value before you sell it, so you won’t be surprised and can face the selling process with more confidence.

Accidents negatively affect a car’s value. How much it’s affected depends on how bad the accident is. If it’s totaled, then it becomes a salvage title vehicle. Salvage titles are dependent entirely on the cost it would take to get the car in running order. In other words, your damaged car can receive a salvage title because the repair costs outweigh how much the car is worth. To a buyer, having a salvage title means that there’s something horrendously wrong with the car that is either extremely difficult, expensive or impossible to fix. So naturally they won’t want to pay as much for a car in that condition.

If the car is not totaled then it might not receive a salvage title, in which case it could be in bad shape and need fixing in order to sell. If the car is fixed to where the accident is of no consequence, then the value shouldn’t budge because as long as the car is no longer affected by the damage, it will no longer have a negative impact on the car. If it’s been a long time since the accident you have better chances of getting more money and the accident becoming even more inconsequential. In contrast if you try to sell the car right after the accident potential buyers might be more apprehensive about buying the car, because why would you be selling it right after an accident if something weren’t horribly wrong with the car?

If your car has been in an accident and you are trying to sell it after it’s been repaired, have the work done by a reputable shop and keep the report. Tell prospective buyers about the accident, and show them the report from the mechanic to ensure full transparency. The buyer will be more comfortable with you and as a result, they will be more comfortable with the car.

In your ad mention that you’d be willing to cover the first $100 of inspections by mechanics of the prospective buyer’s choice. This will show people that you’re serious about the condition of your car. A pre-sale inspection is something that you as a seller shouldn’t ever refuse. It looks suspicious if you decide against letting a prospective buyer get a pre-sale inspection. They could walk away from the transaction without considering even negotiating with you.

Something like frame damage is either very difficult and expensive to fix or near impossible, and would permanently lower the car’s value since it would not be fixable. Since passenger cars are built on unibody frames it’s much more difficult than simply repairing a ladder frame. The reason being that a unibody is more complicated. It’s an integrated frame with body panels, so there is more to repair.

If your airbag deploys, don’t worry too much about the car’s value unless the car is very old. The going rate for fixing airbags can go as high as around $6,000, and naturally if your car is worth less than that it would have to be totaled out which means a salvage title. If you’ve got a new car though, chances are your car is worth more than $6,000 so it shouldn’t strike you as too worrying. You’d need to get it repaired, but also it would be a good idea to let the new buyer know about the airbag deploying just in case. It’s good practice to have airbags

If you decide to inform your insurance company of an accident, it’s important to be aware of how they evaluate a car’s value after damages have been done. Insurance companies tend to use what’s called Formula 17C which is a standardized formula which is not totally accurate to every vehicle and can be very generic. You do not have to have an insurance company look at the value, as you can go get your own appraisal which is recommended.

If you’re involved in an accident where your car is damaged severely or otherwise, don’t panic. Talk to a lot of mechanics and get estimates for how much the repairs are going to cost. Every shop does things differently, and depending on which ones you talk to, you may be able to negotiate. If it’s not repairable damage, or far outside of your budget, you can try to sell the car for scrap or to a junkyard. This is a more complicated option, but there are multiple facets to it that can be explored. No matter what happens, after an accident you are not out of options.

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