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Dr. Hamman
Dr. Hamman, Automotive Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 5985
Experience:  30 years experience, Repairing, building, & designing, automobiles.
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Resolved Question:

I have a 2008 Volvo S40 28,000 miles. Recently a tree fell on the car and almost completely destroyed the roof, trunk side mirror plus small dents all over 80% of the car. The roof is so badly damaged the rear window glass is completely broke out. The car will need a complete new pain job. The insurance adjuster believes it could be repaired to factory condition. The roof will need removed and a new roof seemed together with the body. A few people are telling me the car should be totaled that it will never be as safe as it was. I would prefer to have the S40 totaled as I don’t want to drive a car that has been completely rebuilt. Should I challenge the insurance company that I would like to have the car totaled, as I believe it will never be as safe as it was… PLUS will the resale of the card be lower since the accident? Thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Andy replied 3 years ago.

Andy :

Hello

Andy :

Did they tell you what the repair was going to cost?

Customer:

Well, as of now the adjuster thinks maybe $11,000, but... the car was just delivered to the repair body shop. I would like to email you pics directly if I can. So, as of now I have no solid dollar figures. I think the value of the card is about $18,000 US.

Andy :

You can't email me pictures directly but you can upload them to this chat if you'd like

Andy :

There should be an icon above the text box of a paperclip, this is for uploading pictures

Customer:

I had trouble resizing it, see if this picture is OK..thanks

Andy :

It hasn't shown up... did it go through?

Customer:

Full Size Image

Andy :

Wow

Andy :

Are either of the a pillars bent?

Customer:

Yes, you mean the frame around the middle of the roof? Yes both are bent/creased. I know it is hard to tell just with one pic. But is is much worse than this one pic... the trunk is bent, mirror, dents on hood and side.

Andy :

The a-pillars are on either side of the windshield

Andy :

The front glass

Andy :

The ones around the rear glass are the c-pillars, which are clearly bent

Customer:

I don't think so, just a few small dents.

Andy :

Well my honest opinion is that I can't believe that wasn't totalled. I would certainly try to get another estimate. That might be as close to being totalled as you can get without actually totalling it.

Andy :

Resale value certainly may be impacted, as you mentioned. This will certainly show up on a carfax report

Andy :

As for safety, that really depends on the quality of the work performed

Andy :

I've seen some very shoddy body work. And doing shoddy work on something as structural as the c-pillars and roof can certainly be a safety issue

Customer:

I guess the body shop will give their opinion this week. If they want to fix it I think I would like to argue that I want it totaled. If you can give me your credentials and why you think it should be totaled I can give it to the insurance company. Just give me a list of bullet style statements why you think it shouldn't be fixed. Thanks...

Andy :

I'm sorry, but I'm not a body guy. This site is mostly mechanics. The insurance company isn't going to listen to me. There is an expert on here with body shop experience. I will opt out and forward this to him and see if he wants to give you a more in-depth opinion.

Customer:

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX can transfer this information to the body expert would be great!

Andy :

I'm trying to remember his user name and search for him, one moment

Customer:

another pic...

Full Size Image

Andy :

Okay I was able to find his username. I sent him a message with a link to this question. He is not online right now but he is still an active exper so hopefully he checks his PMs

Andy :

I will have to opt out of this now so that he can post when he gets the message. Sorry I couldn't help, good luck!

Customer:

Full Size Image

Customer:

I am back...

Customer:

...

Andy :

I just checked, the expert hasn't read his Private Message yet. I will send this to a moderator who can hopefully email him about this

Customer:

did the body guy see this yet?

Customer:

no... not yet

Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 3 years ago.
Hi, I will do my best to assist you. At Just Answer the deposit you pay is not payment to the Expert, I only get paid if you click on accept, we receive no other pay. I don't know if you are a pro or a novice so we may have to fine tune the answer. I only know as much about your problem as you have told me in your post, so my answer will be based on what you have posted. Feel free to add any additional info you feel is needed. If you are satisfied with the answer, and feel you can leave a positive feedback please click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do.



You are in a tough position with this ordeal. There will be dozens of photos that will show up when a Carfax is run on your vehicle, and this will follow it for life. That is a negative, and will make your vehicle worth less to anyone who runs a background search on the vehicle. So that is a big loss for you if you have it repaired. One of the Keys here is today the loss in value will be higher than it will be say five years from now, because the devaluation will be roughly a percentage of the vehicles value. So as the vehicle becomes older the amount of loss from the vehicle having been repaired will be less.

Now for the repair, you have to step back and look at the big picture. Basically any car starts off as a stack of preformed metal panels, and they are assembled into a car. So if a car is damaged and all the damaged parts are removed, and new pieces are professionally installed, then it will be as good/strong as new. So with the fact in mind that the car didn’t have some superior origin, and is just a stack or parts skillfully assembled, that when properly repaired are as good as it was prior to the damage. The devaluation of vehicles was started by insurance company’s, so if you totaled a vehicle that had ever been in an accident, they would use this fact to pay you less for the totaled vehicle. I have always considered this to be sort of a scam that the general public isn’t aware of. The actual data base that was an insurance company only resource has morphed into an industry called Carfax.

The most challenging part of this is determining what parts are damaged and replacing them. Parts like the suspension components, and wheels were drastically overloaded during the impact for a brief period of time. Are they damaged? were they on the repair estimate? I would insist that the suspension CLOSELY inspected. Structurally from an engineering point of view your S40 could be made to be as good or better than it was prior to the damage. That is if the repairs use only original Volvo parts, and the repairs are performed by skilled craftsman. Also insist that if a body panel needs replacement that it is only cut and rewelded on the factory seams, using the factory methods of welding or better. The practice of hacking off half a panel and welding in a section of an original part saves time/money for the shop performing the repairs, and is a common practice. Do not accept this type of repairs. The factory uses spot welding MIG and TIG welding can offer superior strength, and are better than spot welds. So if you get it repaired accept only Volvo parts, and insist that Volvo makes the repairs. Tell the insurance company that this is the only way to restore the Volvo level of quality and safety. Also insist that the suspension be inspected, and preferably disassembled and inspected. The insurance company needs to monetarily compensate you for the loss in value of the vehicle because it now carries the scar on its history of having been damages in this accident. Push the envelope on this issue, and push hard.

On this repair your rights are determined by the language in your insurance contract, so you might need some legal; assistance to review the language of the "contract" you may or may not have the rights to get the services I recommended, but you very well may have the rights. So so often a consumer just takes what they get in a situation like this, lining up like sheep. Don’t be afraid to rebel from the norm and stand up for your rights, explore the language of the contract and learn what rights you have and what obligations the insurance company has. If you push hard enough based on what I have laid out they may total the vehicle, which would be a win for you . If the won’t total it, insist on the high quality repairs I recommended, and don’t forget about the inspection of the suspension. If you can get another party to give an estimate for the repairs, and this other party thinks the suspension is damaged that might push the repair cost over the line where it is totaled. I have seen this technique used with great success in the past. As a last resort each state has an insurance commissioner that you can file a complaint to, you could mention to your insurance company, if they give you a hard time that you are drafting a letter/complaint to the state insurance commissioner. They can loose their license to do business in your state if they get to many complaints. Use ALL OF YOUR OPTIONS, Your insurance company is fighting hard to get out of this with minimum cost don’t let them bulldoze over you. If you have any more questions I am here to help. Good luck, and Thanks for using Just Answer.

I hope this helps, 100% satisfaction is my goal. If the answer is not clear, please reply and I will assist you more. When you're satisfied, click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. A bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, good luck and Thanks.
Dr. Hamman, Automotive Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 5985
Experience: 30 years experience, Repairing, building, & designing, automobiles.
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