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The HTSpecCivicX Gets its Final Repair Estimate...and She's a Goner

  • Posted: 02-18-2018 01:34 AM
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Nobody wants a salvaged car.

No matter how well a car may be fixed, a brand on a title is the scarlet letter that will forever doom resale value. Many folks say that once a car is wrecked it is never the same again. While that is true, it is completely possible to rebuild a car to pre-accident condition. It's just a matter of replacing parts, and every part on the car is replaceable. In order to correctly repair a car so deeply damaged, the labor cost, not so much the parts cost, is intensive and extensive.

The fact is that initial estimates on our #HTSpecCivicX repair from the insurance companies suggest that a total loss would be a bit outside of range in this case. Despite the extensive damage, the value of our brand new Civic is so high that the damage would need to be an absolute maximum to warrant a total loss.


We bring in ADE to help

One thing is for sure, if our Civic is to be repaired we want a top-shelf job done. We took the car to the best possible shop to do the job to make sure we would get it back in a perfect a condition as possible. Because the title will most certainly show "frame damage" on any VIN report, we decided to employ the services of Auto Damage Experts.

Auto Damage Experts is a Portland Local company that specializes in auto damage repair auditing, vehicle valuation, and vehicle inspections. The main thing they would be doing in this case would be watching the vehicle repair, step by step, and making sure everything is fixed in the most correct way to the manufacturer's specifications. If something isn't fixed right, they keep the body shop accountable and direct them to redo work until it is right. Not that RBP needs it...but with the potential of a salvaged car on our hands, we feel best knowing the repair is certified and documented.

The other service ADE would be doing for us is determining a diminished value on the vehicle. Because the car was wrecked and may be repaired, the value will be less than what it was before the accident. The degree of value impact vary, but in any case the diminished value can be recovered from the insurance company as part of the claim.

For example, say the car is worth $20,000 when it gets hit. After the repair, which maybe costs $12,000, the car is completely fixed; safe and reliable. But it has "frame damage" on the title so if I wanted to sell it tomorrow, I maybe could only get $16,000 for the car, not the $20,000 it was worth before. There is $4,000 in diminished value that we can recover from the insurance company as part of the claim!

But determining the diminished value and subsequently recovering it from the insurance company takes some market and industry expertise I don't possess. ADE helps with that process.


RBP's Revised Estimate

In the last blog, the car was dropped at RBP Collision. $12,000 estimate from Farmers and $15,000 estimate from State Farm in hand, RBP will dig into the car a bit further to get a real and final estimate. After about a week I decided to stop in and take a peek.

The estimates already had begun to grow. Inside the trunk it was found that to the inner panels had been wrinkled more than previously expected.

To fix that area, the whole left rear corner of the car needs to be taken apart and rebuilt with new parts. And noticing this separation on the right side of the body in the trunk area suggests that the whole inside structure shifted over relative to the right side body panels.

Basically, the guts of the car shifted inside the shell, including the rear "package shelf" that holds the speakers, meaning all the metal inside the rear of the car needs to come out and be replaced or re-positioned. That…is a shit ton of work.

The total estimate from RBP for this hit…

…exceeds $18,000. On a car that stickers for $21,500, that is more than 83% repair cost versus the value of the vehicle. RBP figures this is going to end up as a total loss.


Conclusion of the estimates

RBP forwarded on their estimate to Farmers for evaluation. On the meantime I sent it off to ADE for their input as well.

Within a couple days I heard back from Farmers with the golden words everyone was expecting to hear: Car's totaled. They gave me a figure to pay me out, and another for the car's salvage value. Not wanting to accept the first numbers just then, I contacted ADE for some advice and got some good feedback indicating I should get a second opinion from State Farm as well.

For now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. All our followers who were jumping up and down shouting for a total loss…the right thing happens in the end. Being pushy usually isn't necessary if you let the system work.


Where to go from here?

Me being me, I know there is value in the car as it is. I have been in the Honda tuning industry since 1996 or thereabouts. Back then, engine swapping was really the ultimate job to make a Honda-car faster. Putting a B16 in a Civic was definitely a level up (when the only factory B-series Civic chassis was a del Sol VTEC). A B18C5 or H22A swap was for the rich kids. With all the hype going on about power and torque delivered  from the L15B7, especially on ethanol mixtures, the thought of farming the engine from the wrinkled wreck to insert it into a lighter chassis is just impossible to suppress


What chassis would you put a pint-sized, 300+ ft-lb turbo monster engine in? I've got some ideas...

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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