I'm the owner of a 2002 Toyota Corolla which just hit 107,000 miles. On June 9th while I was at work, my car got hammered by some pretty large hail. The damage was enough that my insurance (Progressive) declared it a total loss. My frugal heart couldn't bear to have them tow away a perfectly drivable car, so I took the lesser payout (just under $5000) and kept it. Now what?
Some pics can be seen here
, although I had a lot of trouble getting the dents to show up well, and it looks worse in person. There are some cracks in the paint starting to show up near the front fender dent and on the trunk, so PDR won't work in those areas. The windshield was a safety issue, and has already been fixed.
I'm rather confused about getting a salvage title. The guy at the shop where I replaced my windshield said I didn't need to get one, and from my reading of this Kansas statute
cosmetic stuff like hail damage is exempt. However, the lady at the titles office in Topeka said yes, I needed to get one, and an insurance agent from another agency confirmed this. I'm hoping to move by the end of the year, so how would a Kansas salvage title affect trying to register the car in another state?
I've already started to put some money into an account for the next car, and my original plan was to bank almost all of the insurance money, and continue to put a small amount in each month. In 2-3 years, the account would be in the 5 figure range and I could get a fairly nice used car for cash.
However, I've started to second guess myself. The insurance agent I talked to above seemed to assume I'd get it fully fixed, as he told me to keep the receipts in case I have to file a claim again with my insurance. There are many "hail specialist" tents around town, and they probably could fix at least a few of the bigger dents for less than my original estimate. Or is this throwing good money after bad?
If I do continue driving it as a dented up car (with a probable salvage title), how much money should I put into it in the future? Obviously, I'd want to keep it road worthy with oil changes and other maintenance, but what about the minor annoyances? For instance, my brake pads that I got replaced last August are squeaking, despite being in for adjustments several times already. Is it worth the time and money to try and get rid of the squeak?
Thanks, and sorry this was so long.