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5 Signs a Vehicle is Totaled After a Collision in South Jersey

After a collision, the fate of your vehicle may hang in the balance. Will it be repairable, or will it be declared “totaled” by your insurance company? Understanding what constitutes a totaled vehicle is crucial for South Jersey residents navigating post-collision scenarios. Contrary to popular belief, the decision isn’t solely based on visible damage. Let’s explore five signs indicating that your vehicle may be totaled after a collision in South Jersey.


Key Takeaways


  • A vehicle is declared “totaled” by insurance companies when the cost to repair it exceeds its actual cash value (ACV), not solely based on visible damage.
  • Seek prompt professional assistance for collision repairs.
  • Older vehicles with high mileage may have a lower ACV, making them more likely to be totaled.


What Does “Totaled” Mean?

Before looking at the signs that assessors look for when evaluating damage, let’s first learn what it means to total your vehicle. You may be surprised to learn that “totaled” does not always equate to the visible damage on your vehicle. Insurance companies will designate a car as unsalvageable or “totaled” when the cost to repair your vehicle exceeds the book value.


When your insurance company declares your car “totaled,” they will pay you the ACV—the actual cash value. This is based on how much your car would have cost prior to the accident. The ACV may be lower than anticipated due to vehicle depreciation, which is also factored into what you receive.


If you choose to keep and repair your totaled vehicle, your insurance company will likely issue a salvage title for it. A salvage title indicates that the vehicle has been significantly damaged and repaired, and it may affect the vehicle’s resale value and insurability in the future.


5 Signs a Vehicle is Totaled After a Collision in South Jersey

When the insurance company sends out a representative to assess the damage done to your vehicle, that individual typically looks at the following things:


1. Your Airbags Deployed

Modern vehicles are equipped with sophisticated safety features, including airbags designed to deploy upon impact. While their deployment is a testament to the effectiveness of your vehicle’s safety systems, it also signifies a significant collision. In many cases, the force required to trigger airbag deployment can cause extensive damage beyond what meets the eye. If your airbags deployed during the accident, it’s a strong indicator that your vehicle sustained substantial damage, potentially leading to a totaled status.


2. It Costs More to Repair Than Replace

One of the primary factors insurance companies consider when determining whether a vehicle is totaled is the cost of repairs compared to its actual cash value (ACV). In South Jersey, where labor and repair costs can vary, this evaluation becomes critical. If the estimated cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds its ACV, it’s likely to be deemed totaled. This decision is influenced by factors such as parts availability, labor expenses, and the extent of damage.


3. Extensive Structural Damage

While cosmetic damage can often be repaired, structural damage is a different story. South Jersey residents should pay close attention to any signs of structural damage, such as bent frames or compromised safety cages. Structural repairs are complex and costly, often involving specialized equipment and skilled technicians. If your vehicle sustained extensive structural damage in the collision, it significantly increases the likelihood of it being declared totaled.


4. Age and Mileage

The age and mileage of your vehicle play a significant role in determining its actual cash value. In South Jersey, where harsh weather conditions and road salt can accelerate vehicle deterioration, older vehicles may have a lower ACV. If your vehicle is older with high mileage, even moderate damage could push it into totaled territory. Insurance companies take these factors into account when assessing the overall value of your vehicle post-collision.


5. Frame Misalignment

A misaligned frame is a red flag indicating substantial collision damage. Even minor misalignments can lead to handling issues, uneven tire wear, and compromised safety. In South Jersey, where road conditions can be challenging, driving a vehicle with frame misalignment poses significant risks. Repairing frame damage is complex and often requires specialized equipment. If your vehicle’s frame is misaligned after a collision, it may be deemed beyond repair, leading to a totaled status.


Need Your Car Repaired in South Jersey?

Hopefully, should you get into a collision, your vehicle will still be usable and only need minor repairs. When that happens, it’s essential to seek professional assistance promptly. Elmer’s Auto Body is here to help. Our team of experienced technicians specializes in collision repair, ensuring your vehicle receives the care it deserves. From minor dents to extensive damage, we’re equipped to handle it all. Contact us today at one of our three South Jersey locations to schedule an appointment and let us restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition.

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