Car stolen, bummer time to be in the used car market. What to do?
March 7, 2022 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Hi! My car was stolen. I'm trying to figure out what to do about getting a new vehicle in a pretty epic used vehicle market. Also, new to having a vehicle stolen, so general advice is much appreciated as well.

Details about my vehicle: It was a 2008 Gen 2 Prius, 120k miles, brand new tires and suspension. Kelley Blue Book puts it at $4,700 trade-in and $6,900 private-party. Equivalent vehicles in my local used vehicle market are for sale at $7,500 to $12,000. My guess is that after everything settles out with insurance, I'll get my car loan paid and have another $1,000 to $2,000 on top of that. I was looking forward to a nice life over the next decade with this car.

Details about me: I'm not a person with money. I have a reasonably good salary, some retirement savings, decent cost of housing, and otherwise have been paying off student loans and various unanticipated expenditures for the last 20 years. My financial position reflects this. My only major requirements for a vehicle are that it be used and that it should fit a bicycle inside it.

Here are my questions:

1. Can I effectively wrangle with the insurance company about the payout on the vehicle, given I've recently done about $3,000 of work on it?

2. In my position, what would you do? Would you just buy a 2008 Prius for whatever the market asks? Would you become the owner of a 1990 Isuzu Trooper and wait out the wave of gas prices and inflation and supply chain issues? Buy in a market outside mine (Los Angeles)? Get a $20,000 loan and get a lower mileage vehicle? Move to New York City and never get behind the wheel of a vehicle again?

3. Is there anything I should be doing now to limit my liability and generalized misery to come from having a stolen vehicle? As of now I've filed a police report and my insurance company also knows. I have a rental.


any advice too

4700 trade in
6900 private party value
posted by kensington314 to Shopping (10 answers total)
Are you 100% certain it was stolen? I once thought my car was stolen, but learned, after much research, that it was towed by an overly enthusiastic tow-truck driver who couldn't, for some reason, recognize that my car was parked 100% legally. I tracked it down in the City of Minneapolis impound lot. It was such a major screw-up that I got a letter of apology from the DMV manager (or whoever it was).
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:57 AM on March 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh!

I should definitely address the obvious question here by presumed #1 Dan-fan Dr. Wu. I called two impound lots in my area three times each, no vehicle. I also asked some construction workers on my block if they saw a tow, and they said they hadn't. Police have also canvassed tow lots in city and nothing turns up so far. I also had a friend drive me around the neighborhood and didn't find it.

Because yeah, I was definitely confused about this, I sort of thought you couldn't really steal a Prius without moving in a crane and a flatbed.
posted by kensington314 at 11:07 AM on March 7, 2022

Best answer: You can absolutely negotiate with your insurance co. If they come back with a lower price than comparable Priuses sell for in your market. You should be "made whole" minus any deductable you have. Unfortunately, with the car missing it's a bit hard to document what kind of condition it was in unless you have recent photos.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 11:20 AM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

We totaled a car shortly after putting several thousand dollars of work into it. We were able to convince the insurance company to increase their payout & reimburse us for part of those costs. We had to provide receipts from the mechanic.

I'm sorry about your car & hope your hunt for a replacement is as painless as possible.
posted by belladonna at 12:52 PM on March 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

How long has it been since the car was stolen? At least where I live, stolen cars often are found abandoned a few days after the theft. It's possible your car will be found.
posted by ShooBoo at 1:14 PM on March 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

How long ago was it stolen? Mine was stolen from in front of my house a few years ago and the officer who took my report recommended waiting at least a full week before starting the purchase process because the rate of recovering stolen vehicles is actually fairly high. Mine was spotted two days later while it was being driven around, they were pulled over, and I picked it up from the impound a day later. I couldn't believe it but they said it's not uncommon.
posted by anderjen at 1:16 PM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yojr insurance company will make you take it back if it isn't totalled, if it comes in before 30 days. (Sumpin' like that.)
posted by Oyéah at 1:53 PM on March 7, 2022

Best answer: My car was stolen a few years ago. Check if there are deadlines for claims. We were able to wait 30 days to see if the car was found, and it was, on day 28. Unfortunately it had been in an accident and needed a new door and fender. The person who stole it also jammed holes in the dash to open the glove box (maps and owners manual only) so it also needed a new dashboard. The repairs would have cost more than the worth of the paid-off car, roughly 6 years old, so we accepted the totaled amount and found another car. We were able to negotiate on a credit for the brand new tires, but we still came out behind and with a car loan. Good luck. It's a terrible time to be car shopping and the rising fuel prices make hybrids even more desirable.
posted by citygirl at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You have comprehensive insurance, right? They have to pay replacement value less deductible. If they lowball you, find comparable cars for sale and push back. Be cheery and polite about their responsibility to compensate you.

It's a huge drag, cars are hella expensive right now. Tell friends, family & co-workers you need help finding a reasonable used car. I've known friends who got deals that way when somebody was happy to give them the trade-in price.
posted by theora55 at 2:41 PM on March 7, 2022

Best answer: Would you become the owner of a 1990 Isuzu Trooper and wait out the wave of gas prices and inflation and supply chain issues?

As the former owner of a 1989 Isuzu Trooper, I advise against this specific course of action. YMM literally V, but mine had chronic mechanical needs that ultimately resulted in it being compassionately cubed.
posted by mumkin at 10:39 PM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

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