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To Total or To Fix? Inspecting the Crash Damage on our HTSpecCivicX

  • Posted: 01-18-2018 11:35 PM
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If there is something positive to come with a checkered youth flush with wrecked CRXs, it's that I've been through the crash-tow-inspect-total process a few times. That's typically open and shut with a $3000 car. I've even bought back totaled cars for their parts value. Naturally, the question of the outcome in this case is on everyone's mind. With a relatively high value car, the case is harder to close.

With the #HTSpecCivicX safe and sound in the Heeltoe garage, I was able to take a nice look over it. The other driver had Farmers Insurance and they are paying for the fix, but we also had our State Farm guy come out for a comparative quote.  The insurance adjusters from both agencies came out to inspect the damage and we were able to see some stuff with them that the untrained eye might miss. Speaking with both was a fantastic experience. Folks, it pays to have good insurance. We know this is the meat and potatoes you've been waiting for so without further ado let's dive in!

A replacement C-pillar and quarter panel normally splices above the door, where I am pointing. Cutting here results in separation of the roof seam which really can ratchet up labor. Amazingly, the door frame appears intact forward of the quarter window, with damage being localized at the C-pillar. This area is notorious for getting wrinkled, preventing doors from sealing and opening correctly. Here, the impact is in a manageable place.

 The trailing edge of the quarter panel is touching the door itself, which I personally believe is the only reason this door isn't opening. Still, the latch area could well be misaligned but since it moved all together it could be functioning fine. It's just hard to know until it gets torn into.You can see that the door was pushed up a bit in the impact though, as the B-pillar sash gap is pretty tight and the rear edge of the door doesn't align well with anything. Word is out on if the door itself is ok.

Moving rearward it is very obvious that the outer quarter panel and inner body panels need complete replacement. The taillamp is completely destroyed with little or nothing remaining aside from the base and a small area of reflector.


I posted on Instagram on the side of the freeway that the trunk, amazingly, still opens and closes without much irregular effort. But even though the trunk still opens and closes the whole panel is shifted to the right and lifted off the seal. Further examination reveals that this area isn't without disruption. The striker is bent…this whole area needs to be replaced for sure. We figure the hinges very probably bent.

Looking at the underside of the rear bumper, it should come as no surprise that the bumper beam needs to be replaced. The rear frame rail is wrinkled as well, meaning there is the very minimum needed to call out "frame damage" on the title.

#bummer. It will be interesting to hear about how this area will be repaired. It's a large beam overall and with this wrinkle in it, surely is no longer structurally sound. The adjuster says that basically the whole corner of the car needs to come apart to access and repair it. Big labor bucks!

The other car, a Mazda Tribute, hit the #HTSpecCivicX low, pushing hard on the muffler and forcing it into the wheel. This punctured the tire and makes backing up rather noisy as the tire shoves the smashed exhaust outlet into the ground.

The exhaust took a pretty big shunt and needs to be replaced all the way to the front of the car (it's all one piece).

The wheel clearly took a walk from it's normal position, as it was pushed forward and rubbing on the rear face of the side skirt. I'd have expected a bunch of carnage here, but it looks like the majority of the issue is related to a some control arms that aren't more than a couple hundred bucks overall. The trailing arm is collapsed in a pretty obvious way.

None of the other arms seem out of place…but we'll need to have a body shop complete that assessment. Clearly the trailing arm was designed to fold up which in turn helps prevent other areas of the car from sustaining damage in a collision, such as the body mounting points. It helps make repairs cheaper.

But, this raises another question about the integrity of the control arms overall. How rigid are they, really? We already know the lower control arms, under stress of racing with higher spring rates, can break. Would stronger arms provide a performance benefit? 

The subframes (yeah there are two of them back there) seem well intact, due in part credit to the sway bar link that broke, preventing suspension damage from transferring to the chassis. The sway bar seems to be fine, as it is made of spring-steel. None of the other lower mounting points seem impacted. Where the wheel position makes it look like a suspension nightmare, collapsible pieces seem to have limited the carnage by a quite a lot!

From inside the car you'd never know anything happened at all. The only evidence of an issue was some misalignment of the folding rear seats; the left one latches with a feather-touch as intended but the right one gets a little hung up when closing it. We traced the problem to a bend in the trunk floor that maybe had caused the lower mounting points to shift. 

This sheet metal is not simple to replace at all and both adjusters suggested it could be pulled straight on a rack at the body shop. However replacing the frame rail will probably cause this area to come out for replacement anyway.

More evidence of shifting would be the right taillamp is pushed slightly proud of the body. Got to hand it to the Farmers guy for noticing this. It's subtle but clearly this is evidence of a bender.

 A closer look reveals separation of the body seam above the lamp in the trunk jamb. An area that would very easily be missed without a thorough inspection. We almost missed it ourselves!


All in all, I am very impressed with how this car took the hit. The structure is designed to absorb and distribute impact forces around the body to keep the passenger cell intact and that clearly is exactly what happened here. Thanks to Honda for engineering their complete line of cars to be 5-star crash-test rated!

The Farmers quote, which was admittedly conservative, came in around $9500. The State Farm one, which dug a little deeper into the carnage, rang in just under $13,000. Assuredly both quotes are under what the actual cost is going to be to restore the car which the body shop will determine. These quotes are only meant to give a general idea of the total cost to help determine the next step.

Mainly, is the car totaled?

The way this is examined is, according to Farmers, when the repair costs come close to 75% of the value of the car a financial analysis is done to decide if the total cost will end up being more than the cost to replace the car. One thing working for the case of a total loss is that this car is squeaky clean and could hardly be any newer before the hit. Every hint of damage is covered because there is no dispute over existing damage from prior use. The complete repair very literally is going to make the car new again because it still is new, which raises the repair cost.

But the same thing works against a total loss case. Because the car is so new, the value on it is high. A maximum, as a matter of fact. Depreciation hasn't taken effect. If the car had 10,000 miles on it, it would not be worth what I paid for it. It would be worth a couple thousand less, making the 75% formula a lower number to hit. Replacement value here is 100% of what I paid for it, basically. So even though the repair is extensive, and expensive, the car is simply worth too much to make totaling it easy.


An opportune brake in the rain blessed the Anderson Towing chap, who kindly arrived within two hours of a call in for a pick up. Off to RBP Collision for a tear down! More inspection may reveal more damage that could push us into a total loss...but at this point we aren't expecting it.

With the car at RBP Collision, the tear down process can begin and a final tug at a total loss can be made. Nobody here seems to believe it will happen though.

These guys are real pros, one of the best around here, actually. They've got a great staff and a nice facility.

Plus they have all the current estimating and repair systems needed to ensure proper assembly. Here, Chris is showing me more or less how they plan on replacing our bent frame rail. it's going to be extensive, but I trust they will get it done without any trouble.


After all, these are the same guys who did the color change on the #HTSpecTSX back in 2014. And look how great that turned out!

About the Author

Marcus di Sabella Marcus is the founder of Heeltoe Automotive. He's been working with cars (mostly Honda cars) since 1996, and has been providing enthusiasts with excellent products, services, and web experiences since 2002. He's been published in Honda Tuning, and holds a degree in Engineering Technology.


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