The Effect of an Accident on a Car's Value
So you've had a car accident. A fender bender. A collision. But, after all the commotion has died down and everyone has recovered from the ordeal, one important question remains. It lingers in the forefront of your mind every time you look at your damaged car… Should I junk my car or can I get some cash for this car? What effect has the accident had on my car's value?
Before the accident, your car was a prized possession. You cared for it. And, it cared for you. After the car wreck, you may have had it repaired. Now, it looks good, but something is off. Or, you didn't have it repaired, and now it's sitting there as a damaged version of its former self.
With an un-repaired car, it's easy to see why it has less value. However, sometimes it's not quite as easy to see why your car is worthless. I mean, it looks like new, so it should be worth what it was before, right? Wrong. Cash for cars is always an option and this post will explain what effect a car accident has on a car's worth for both repaired and unrepaired vehicles. Accident's effect on a repaired car's value:
This is a bit of a loaded question, and there isn't really a clear answer. It all comes down to: How bad was the accident to begin with? And, who's answering the question? The insurance company?A car dealership's trade-in appraiser?
The severity of the accident question is the most straight-forward. If your accident was more of a fender bender with a broken headlight that was replaced with a new part, the accident won't have much of an effect on the car's value as the repair won't really be visible.
When the collision is more serious and a junk car removal service is needed… severely dented body panels, frame damage, broken suspension… that's a different ballgame. Let's assume the repair was done by an I-Car Gold repair shop by a master craftsman. The paint between new body panels and old match and there are no big gaps. It looks great. Despite all that, your car still will take a big hit in terms of value, to the tune of up to 30%. When it's time to sell a car up to 55% of people won't buy a previously damaged car.
For one thing, the car now has an accident on its CarFax or AutoCheck vehicle history report. Plus, if there was frame or significant structural damage, even the best body shop will never be able to get the car back to perfect. There's usually evidence of a major repair. Now imagine your car was repaired by someone less skilled. Repair quality is a big deal.
From the point of view of your insurer or a car dealer's appraiser the value your car has lost after an accident is called its Diminished Value, which is based on the pre-accident value of your car, the nature and severity of the damage and the quality of repairs. There's no real perfect formula. Suffice it to say, the more significant the damage, the newer the car or the poorer the repairs; the worse the Diminished Value.
Accident's effect on an unrepaired car's value:
Okay, so you haven't gotten your wrecked car repaired yet. Maybe you don't really think it's a worthwhile investment in time, money and aggravation. You might be right. Depending on the age, mileage, severity of damage and make & model of your car, your damaged car has some intrinsic value. You may be better off selling a car versus repairing it.
Damaged is viewed in terms of percentage. A car with under 20% damage isn't really that bad and probably should be fixed. Once you hit the 40 to 70% range, repair might not be your best option. Start thinking, "I should sell my car, truck, van or SUV to DamagedCars.com." It might get you the best bang for your buck.
Above 70% and your car is getting pretty close to totaled. In fact, in six states 70% damage is totaled. At the low end, Iowa totals a car at 50% damage. Colorado and Texas top out the spectrum at 100%. Twenty-two states use a calculation called a Total Loss Formula. If the repair cost plus the damaged car value is more than the Actual Cash Value (the value of the car pre-accident), the car is totaled (and worth the value of its parts and metals).
In the end, post repair, your car's value will probably take the 30% hit. If it's totaled or if you opt to not repair because it falls into that 40 – 70% category, it might be time to sell your car.