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Why was my car totaled?

Posted by tom zoebelein on Fri, Feb 08, 2013 @ 09:35 AM

If your car was totaled after an accident, it might not be clear to you why your insurance company would make such a decision.  Sometimes a car might not appear damaged enough to warrant being totaled and you’d rather just have it repaired.  It’s understandable—our cars are important to us!  We spend lots of time agonizing over which one to get, we dream up the perfect name for it, and we spend lots of quality time in it covering miles of terrain.  It can be devastating to have to replace Betty or Franklin or Ringo. 

So if your car was totaled and the reason is elusive to you, it boils down to some pretty standard calculations by your appraiser.  Once the calculations are complete, if the insurance adjustor finds that it would be more expensive to repair your vehicle than to replace it, then your car will be totaled. 

An appraiser will make an assessment based on lots of factors, but here are the four biggest ones:

Make and model.
Some vehicles are more costly than others, as you already know.  What an insurance adjustor will do to determine the value of your make and model is consult the Kelley Blue Book.  The Kelley Blue Book is the go-to guide for looking up the estimated value of any vehicle.  In some cases, it will work out that the value of your particular make and model lends itself to being too costly to fix, which means your car will be totaled.

The number of miles you have on your car is a very important factor for estimating the wear and tear on your car.  The higher the number, the lower your car’s value.  This can be the case regardless of what year your vehicle is.  A current year vehicle that has over 100,000 miles on it will be declared a lower value than an identical vehicle with half that mileage. 

car mileage

Just like with mileage, the more years on your car, the lower its value.  Cars aren’t like fine wines that get better with age; instead, vehicles depreciate over time.  If your car is getting up in the years, then it’s probably not worth it on paper to fix.  At the same time, a newer vehicle might be so expensive to fix that it would be cheaper just to replace it.  This is because newer vehicles have so much more sophisticated technology and more intricate parts to replace.

old car

Yes, car parts can be incredibly expensive, along with the labor to replace them.  It all depends on what needs to be replaced.  Sometimes an accident will only damage a minor area of the vehicle, while another accident will damage the most expensive parts.  In newer cars, those parts can include high-tech safety features and computer components that can really add up.

car parts

If you find that you need an autobody shop to repair your car or if you just want to ask some questions, then give us a call at Bel Air Autobody, the sister company of Ward Automotive.  Our technicians are well-trained and eager to help our neighbors here in Harford County!   


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