Help me deal with my first accident (and getting my car back to spec)
September 25, 2019 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm 45 years old but have thankfully avoided car accidents my entire life. Until I got a car I love... Then, 3 months after buying it, I got broadsided. I'm trying to navigate this and get my car back to pre-broadside condition (including the CarFax). Details inside, but help needed from anyone who's been through this, or especially insurance agents and car dealers.

In May I bought my first new car, paying cash. It was a limited edition Iron Man Hyundai Kona. Only 1,500 were made worldwide. (From what the dealer told me, only 300 came to the US, the other 1,200 went to other countries).

Yes, I get it's a Hyundai, but I felt about this car the way Cameron's Dad felt about his Ferrari.

The car had matte paint (which is difficult/impossible to repair). Special lights. Special wheels and rims. I loved the car.

Then I got broadsided. Told about $7,000 in damage. Replacing the front door, the back door, the wheel, the tire, the back bumper, and needing to bend the part of the frame where the back door hinge is back into shape. Then they need to repaint half the car to blend the paints to try and match the original matte.

(I am mostly okay, some back pain after the wreck)

The insurance company of the person that hit me is taking 100% responsibility for the costs of my repair, rental car while it's fixed, etc.

But...I loved that car. And now I'm feeling it is forever diminished.

First: the car simply has less value now. If I did go to sell it, the Carfax would show this damage and the replaced parts. I was told by the dealer who sold it to me to ask for DIMINISHED VALUE, but I'm not sure how to find out how much and to get the insurance company to pay for it.

Second: this car is no longer all original parts, nor original paint. Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not usually a "car guy") but doesn't this reduce the overall collectability of the car?

If so...I actually want to sell my car and buy a new one. My Hyundai has only 5,000 miles on it. More, as dealers are clearing out the lot I have found the car for $5-$7k less than I paid for this one.

How can I get the best value for my current Hyundai and pay as little as possible to trade it for a new one off the lot? Would I be better off selling privately? Would a dealer possibly give me good trade-in if I'm trading for the same car?

(Or am I insane for wanting to do such a thing?)

Any and all advice is appreciated here.
posted by arniec to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total)
What was your plan for the car before the accident? Were you planning to sell it after a few years and use the money from that to defray the cost of a new car?

Or did you plan to drive that car for a decade or more, until it couldn't be repaired again?

If you loved that car as that car, it's still that car. The blue book value isn't what it's worth to you; it's what it would get on the open market. If anything, your knowing its driving history and the quality of the repairs means you'd have a better idea of its real value than someone going off the carfax report.

Now, if what you loved was having a new, pristine car, then that changes your incentives some.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:34 AM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


My plan was to drive it occasionally while we use my wife's car as our primary mode of transportation. Then to only drive it to events like comic shows, car shows, etc... So I'm treating it like a future-vintage car that I'd keep low miles on and keep in good shape.
posted by arniec at 8:41 AM on September 25, 2019

Oh Jesus God don't do that. It's a fuckin' car, drive it like a fuckin' car. Drive it hard and drive it long and use it the fuck up and sell its elderly body for not much more than scrap value. If you want to invest in something, just buy an index fund, for God's sake. Even the "success" stories about vintage cars still work out to a really shitty rate of return over the very long stretches you're looking at.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:45 AM on September 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

GCU - think of that as a hobby, not an investment.
posted by arniec at 8:48 AM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd split this into three parts:

1) The potential collectability of the car to to others at some indefinite point in the future if you intend to sell it. If it were me (and it is not), I'd ignore this one. It makes a lot of assumptions that are rarely true. The value of most cars is a steady march from the price you pay for it down to zero, and in rare cases a march down to near zero and then a climb back up as it becomes 'classic'. That's a long time to wait for an unlikely return, unless you have evidence otherwise as to future collectability. On preview - if it's a hobby not an investment, this is just another way of talking about the value of the car to you, below.

2) The value of the car to you. That's not something anyone but you can weigh in on; right now you feel it's diminished in some way and may always feel that way.

3) The insurance settlement and whether it's fair. I can't speak to this beyond what google gives for 'diminished value', but that seems like a reasonable thing to pursue. It might amount to a few thousand dollars at most. I think your best case for getting it is getting a price from the dealership on what they would pay for trade-in after the car is fixed, then asking them what value they would give as a trade-in pre-accident condition. The difference between those should be your diminished value claim. In a normal situation I wouldn't say to go to the dealership, but selling a just-in-an-accident car to a private party isn't likely to get you a better price.

I'd expect that the dealership would quote you ~15% less than a new car for the pre-accident trade in value, that's just the initial depreciation from buying a new car. Maybe as low as 10%, maybe as high as 20%. No matter what else happens with the diminished value claim you should expect to pay at least 10% or so out of pocket in order to replace your car with a new version - the diminished value claim could get you closer to the 10% but it's not likely to get better than that. Only you know whether that's worth it to you.
posted by true at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is not a collectible car. It is not a future-vintage car. I think the Iron Man Kona is a neat car - especially with the matte paint. However, the chance of this car increasing in value, even if undriven, is pretty close to zero. I'm saying this as a Hyundai fan and drive one myself. As a practical matter, there is currently no such thing as a collectible Hyundai. As another practical matter, on the off chance that it does become collectible, the value will be in an undriven car, not even a "lightly driven" car. A rough corollary I can think of here is a Pontiac Solstice (approximately the same number of copies). Indeed, with near-zero miles, you can find people that attempt to make a (small) amount of money off of them with near-zero miles. However, the moment the mileage exceeds even a couple thousand miles a year, the car has essentially lost all of its value.

On preview, you are mentioning keeping this as a hobby. If so, then accept the value that your car can and will change over time. Undriven or lightly driven cars actually have are a pain in the butt! Seals degrade over time - even gasoline degrades. Your battery will lose charge (and fail) and you'll have to consider things like battery minders to avoid replacing the battery constantly. Further, a driven car is something you can enjoy. The alternative just takes space.

Yes, this is all a pain. No, you shouldn't have to deal with it. However, none of it impacts you (since you are not planning on selling the car) unless you chose to have it impact you. So, don't make that choice. Enjoy your car as a car, rather than as an art piece.
posted by saeculorum at 8:52 AM on September 25, 2019 [12 favorites]

Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not usually a "car guy") but doesn't this reduce the overall collectability of the car?

It's a Hyundai. It has zero collectability. You can't treat this car as a ' future-vintage car' when it is impossible anyone but a few other people in the world will see it that way. It simply will not have the value you think it will. Need proof? This 'limited edition' car is ALREADY selling $5-7k below what you paid for it. It will not gain or stabilise in value.

It is just a car.

Don't waste time money and effort on trying to retain the cache YOU saw in the car once. If you love it, enjoy it. Drive it. You will lose more money selling this car and trying to buy a 'new pristine' version which is just as likely to get battered in traffic as this one was. Then what?

How can I get the best value for my current Hyundai
The absolute BEST value? Just drive it. Enjoy it, stop adding all this extra stuff to it. The car is safe after the repair, I assume, so you still have a repaired, good car that you love. Anything else is a distraction. Just keep it and enjoy it.

There is no financial gain here to factor. No future nest egg to consider so stop seeing it in that light.
posted by Brockles at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

(also, selling this car back to a dealership is an incredibly poor financial move. I'd be surprised if you could get anything more than 70% the price of a new car. Your car now has an accident on its history [even if it doesn't show up on CarFax, the dealership will be able to tell], and the dealership needs to make cover its expenses.)
posted by saeculorum at 8:56 AM on September 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

If it is a hobby (read: willing to lose some money on it), just get it repaired, try for diminished value and sell it to the highest bidder. Buy a new one.
posted by AugustWest at 9:00 AM on September 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


Would a dealer possibly give me good trade-in if I'm trading for the same car? No. Impossible. Trade in is ALWAYS teh worst way to extract value from a car because the dealer wants to sell it and make a profit. Besides, why on earth would they give you anything at all against the same car that HASN'T been crashed heavily? What's in it for them? They may even refuse.

(Or am I insane for wanting to do such a thing?) Yes. You are setting parameters for a decision that has no logical basis with this car. It's just a car that has some options, love it for what it is. How you are approaching this sounds like you may sink a ton of money into this (selling and rebuying the same car) for absolutely no extra value to you or to anyone else further down the line.
posted by Brockles at 9:01 AM on September 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Further motivation not to sell back to the dealership - based on the prices you're seeing, they aren't even selling these brand new. Why would they be excited to trade selling you a new one (generally easier to sell) for buying a used/previously damaged one (generally harder to sell)?
posted by saeculorum at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2019

Negotiate harder. Your car will have less value because of the frame straightening. You should be compensated for that. You can always ask your insurance company for advice, or call the insurance commission for your state, listed under the attorney general's office. Buying the same vehicle again is kind of nutty to me. It has less $$ value, but it's basically the same car. I would not count on it having collectible value to anyone but you. If it matters that much to you, get a better payout, maybe ask the insurance company to buy it from you, sell yours on craigslist/ marketplace, buy another one, etc., and be happy. Sorry this happened to you, but I'm glad you're okay.
posted by theora55 at 9:28 AM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

You people saying it's not very collectable as a car: I think it might be more correct to think about it in comic convention / Marvel / superhero collector terms. Also, while even in those terms, action figures unopened / never used are a kind of collector gold standard, the fact that this is a car -- and therefore more cool/useful/rare -- might make it interesting in even a different way.

So, the OPs concerns are reasonable, I believe.

So, generally, you get the best value in a one-on-one car sale. If you're connected to the Marvel fan community, you can probably find an enthusiastic buyer there. The car looks cool! You can at least try -- post a message or two in a forum where you're a member, see if anyone nibbles.

If you want a new one, and you think you can sell the old one, go for it.

As for whether the car is "diminished" somehow -- that may be only psychological. If you can get the car fixed quickly, then you can just drive it a little and see how you feel. You and this car went through an experience together (much like Tony Stark and his suit). It may be that that history makes you feel closer to the car, and makes it more personal to you. Give it a chance. If you end up feeling that the car isn't right for you anymore, you can make a decision based on that knowledge.
posted by amtho at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

As for whether the car is "diminished" somehow -- that may be only psychological

"Diminished value" is a specific term used to denote the fact that a car that has been in an accident is worth less than one that hasn't, and there are specific guidelines for determining it. Some years ago a co-worker successfully initiated a class-action suit against his insurance company for not paying diminished value as part of their claims process. I had filed a claim a couple of years before with the same company and consequently got a check for a couple of hundred dollars. Not a huge amount, but it is a real thing.
posted by TedW at 12:19 PM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

As for whether the car is "diminished" somehow-- that may be only psychological.

That is not true at all. If the frame was damaged you absolutely should be compensated for the diminished value of the car. Get a quote from a few dealers of Carmax and see what they'd pay for it. It might not even really be sale-able with frame damage. Also check your insurance won't go up and make sure it's still insurable with other companies with the frame damage. That's a big deal on modern cars, the days of straightening your truck frame out between two trees and she's good as new are long long gone.

I'd also ask this questions on a car forum, you are getting a lot of questionable input here, imho.
posted by fshgrl at 12:59 PM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

The OP is using 'diminished' in two senses. Yes, in the sense of "diminished value" - that's understood. But OP also says:

"And now I'm feeling it is forever diminished."

That's the thing I am saying might be mainly psychological. For the OP, the value is in the coolness of the car, maybe -- and the car might, in a sense, be cooler for having survived battle. Or maybe not -- that's up to OP.
posted by amtho at 1:30 PM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

As a non-car person, it feels to me like maybe you are trying to wish away the collision. I can't give you car advice, but I can say: it really really sucks that this happened to you. It sounds like it was traumatic. I hope your back pain resolves and that you are able to make peace with the car, and with the fact that this happened at all. Traffic is scary.
posted by eirias at 3:43 PM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

This car won't have resale value but geeks will appreciate it whether it has been in a wreck or not.

(As an aside, your wife is amazing for letting you drive her car so you can nurse this collectible dream you have. Please thank her for that generosity as that is unusually generous unless the spouse shares the geekdom interest.)

Maybe look into Buddhist philosophy to help you cope with this. The more we put into an idea or object being static and enduring, the more we suffer when it inevitably isn't. Things change, and the more we resist that, the more pain we will feel. The more we cling to what was, the more we suffer. Let go of what was and embrace what is and you'll find a lot more peace around this situation.
posted by crunchy potato at 4:33 PM on September 25, 2019

Something similar happened to me a couple of years ago, except the at-fault driver who hit me was uninsured. I had uninsured motorist coverage, so my insurance company paid the $7k repair bill, but refused to compensate for diminished value. So now I'm involved in a slow-burn lawsuit with my own insurance company, which my lawyer feels we will win due to some favorable precedents already on the books in my state.

Consult with a lawyer who specializes in this. Ideally, before repairs, because they will want to get an independent appraisal.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:16 PM on September 25, 2019

While I think there's good advice on the car end, really I think this is a question about psychology and emotion. I'm very familiar with the Special Thing dynamic, having grown up with hoarders/collectors and having those tendencies myself.

You can go a few ways here. One is, you wanted a pristine Iron Man car and you don't want one that has frame damage as well as a questionable paint job. If you have the money and you can source another car that meets your requirements, I say, why not? You've even learned you'll get the new car for less. To maximize your profit if your car is saleable, sell it privately. To maximize your time, do a trade-in. If your car can't be sold, negotiate a write-off.

Two is, you wanted your car to have value to others. I think a bit you wanted to be The Guy With The Cool Car. Unfortunately, with frame damage, your car now doesn't have that value. What's more, if dealers have already lowered their prices that much, you know that your car is not holding its value and currently does not have that extra Iron Man value to other people. This is probably the hardest emotional spot for people who have things they valued highly originally and wanted to spend a long time valuing and then have other people care for. My parents have literally tonnes of things in this category, and they had an appraiser through their house, and once he left they were minus a few things and had earned...$750. I mean, they thought they were sitting on piles of 'classic' toys and things. In this case, I think you will have to come to terms with the idea that car collecting and Marvel merchandise collecting is a bit of a crapshoot and Hyundai may not have met the bar here where value to others comes in. I'm not optimistic that the car will gain value over time, especially as the Iron Man movies are kinda done. However, you really are still The Guy With The Cool Car because that car does look pretty cool.

Third is, you were in a car accident and got frame damage and that sucks! Ironically, the first new car I ever bought myself (or have bought since) was a little Hyundai Elantra. 3 months after I bought it, I was parked at the side of the road with my child in the car and I was hit by an unlicensed 15 yr old driver who had taken his uncle's car for a joyride during the first snowfall of winter. Frame damage etc. I drove that car for 12 years afterwards but I never felt the same about it. However, it got me where I needed to go all the time.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:14 AM on September 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I say this in insurance-related posts all the time. Your state has an insurance commission; they will be under the Attorney General's Office/ website. They should be able to answer technical questions, at the very least.
posted by theora55 at 10:26 AM on September 26, 2019

« Older social security   |   Really compact insulated bag for groceries and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.