Car accidents can be upsetting situations, but they can be potentially devastating if your insurance doesn't cover the cost of the damage. If you drive an older vehicle, then it's likely that you don't carry collision coverage. While this often makes good financial sense, it can leave you holding the bag if you are involved in an at-fault accident.
Deciding whether to turn your car over to a local junk buyer can be challenging, so it's helpful to look at the situation as dispassionately as possible. Below you'll find three questions to ask yourself after an accident to help determine if it's time to turn your keys over to a wrecker.
1. How Much Was Your Car Worth?
The value of your car before the accident is the most crucial factor to consider. Check up on local scrap prices and compare them to the book value of your vehicle. If your vehicle in its previous condition was only worth slightly more than scrap, then it's almost certainly time to say goodbye. Severe damage can reduce a car's value by thousands of dollars, so you are unlikely to have much retail value in these cases.
When researching your car's value, it's worth looking at local listings for similar vehicles. Book value provides a good starting point, but market conditions vary a great deal between areas. You may find that the local market for your car is particularly weak, making it unlikely that you will be able to sell one that already has accident damage.
2. Was the Structure Damaged?
On older vehicles or trucks, the frame and the body were entirely separate. With newer unibody cars, the body panels are themselves structural components. This design means that seemingly cosmetic dents and dings may compromise the safety and structural integrity of your vehicle. You should always have a professional body shop evaluate accident damage to be sure.
If you do find that your vehicle's structure was compromised, then driving it may be risky. In these cases, junking the car may be a better option than putting thousands of dollars into correcting the underlying structural issues.
3. Is There Internal Engine or Transmission Damage?
Damage to your car's motor or transmission can require thousands of dollars to correct, even on older vehicles that may not be worth much money. Replacing other components in the engine may be a reasonable option, but damage to either of these essential parts is often the death knell for older vehicles. The cost of a repair may even exceed the value of the car before the accident.
If you find that your accident has left with a car that needs a new (or rebuilt) transmission or engine, then it's likely time to cut the cord and junk what's left. Reach out to a yard that offers money for junk cars to learn more.