Accidents often end with your vehicle needing repairs, whether that’s patching up a few scratches or more extensive fixes. Depending on the damage, you may be wondering if it is worth fixing your vehicle after an accident or if you should sell it and move on. Assessing the extent of the damage is the first part. You must also consider some other factors before figuring out whether to repair your vehicle after a collision.
Today, we are going to take a look at these factors to help you decide whether to have your car fixed and also give some tips on where to go for those collision repairs in New Jersey.
Importance of Assessing the Extent of Damage
After an accident, the first step in deciding whether to repair your car is to assess the extent of the damage. Sometimes, damages may appear minor on the surface, but they could be hiding more severe issues. For instance, a seemingly harmless fender bender might cause underlying structural damage that compromises the vehicle’s safety. Consider a bent frame or compromised chassis. Your car’s performance will be affected, which also counteracts safety. Similarly, deployed airbags could indicate a severe collision that may have caused more damage than initially apparent.
In short, you never want to assume that your vehicle is fine after a collision, no matter how minor.
To make an informed decision, having the car inspected by a professional mechanic or a dealership technician is crucial. These experts can identify hidden damages and comprehensively assess the vehicle’s condition. An accurate evaluation will help you understand the full extent of the damage and the potential risks associated with driving the car without repairs.
Safety Considerations When Deciding to Fix Your Car After an Accident
The top priority of any driver is safety—for yourself, your passengers, and the other drivers around you. Modern vehicles are engineered with safety features designed to protect occupants in the event of an accident. Even minor damages can compromise these safety systems and reduce the car’s ability to protect you in future collisions.
You may consider waiting to repair that damaged bumper, but consider what could happen to your car if you get into a fender bender when it’s already compromised. Your car will not be protected in any subsequent accidents.
Furthermore, if you notice that your car is not handling well after an accident, there is always a risk of something going wrong and causing another collision. If it is within your means to have your vehicle repaired, make sure you do so to maintain its overall safety and drivability.
Insurance coverage also plays a significant role in car accident repair. Different insurance policies offer varying degrees of coverage, and the extent of your coverage will impact your decision-making process.
New Jersey is a “choice” no-fault state. This does not mean that no fault is attached to drivers who are at fault. It means that, should you choose no-fault (PIP) coverage, it is your responsibility to turn to your own insurance company to cover your medical bills and other losses up to the limit of your PIP coverage. In exchange for these benefits, you generally give up the right to sue the at-fault driver for non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) unless your injuries meet certain criteria (the “verbal threshold”).
If you have selected traditional liability coverage, you have the right to sue the at-fault driver for economic and non-economic damages without being subject to the verbal threshold restrictions. This means you can pursue a claim against the other driver’s insurance company or take legal action in court to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.
These laws can be complex, but, if you can have the repairs covered by your insurance company in some way, then there is no reason not to go through with repairs, unless your deductible is too high or the repairs too costly to complete.
Other Factors to Consider When Repairing a Car After an Accident
We have discussed some of the more pressing issues when deciding whether repairs are worthwhile after an accident. However, those are not the only things you need to consider when choosing. You must also consider the following:
Age and Mileage of the Vehicle
How old is your vehicle? Does it have a lot of miles? Is there anything of value with your car’s make and model that would make repairing it despite its age the best choice?
Keep in mind, if the repair costs are significant, they may exceed the car’s current market value, making extensive repairs financially impractical.
In such cases, it might be more reasonable to consider replacing the car with a newer model. Assessing the overall condition of the vehicle, considering its age and mileage, will help you determine if repairs are a worthwhile investment.
Repair Costs vs. Car Value
If the repair costs are only slightly higher than the car’s value, it might be worth repairing, especially if you have an emotional attachment to the vehicle or if it has unique features that you appreciate.
On the other hand, if the repair costs significantly exceed the car’s value, purchasing a replacement vehicle might be more cost-effective. Spending more on repairs than the car is worth may not be a wise financial decision, especially if the vehicle is already approaching the end of its useful life.
Out-of-Pocket Expenses and Deductibles
For minor damages that fall below your deductible amount, filing an insurance claim might not make sense, as you will have to cover the repair costs entirely. In such cases, paying for the repairs out of pocket might be a more straightforward and cost-effective solution.
On the other hand, if the repair costs exceed your deductible, it might be more advantageous to file an insurance claim, especially if your policy covers the majority of the expenses.
Considering the deductible and potential out-of-pocket expenses is essential for assessing the financial implications of repairing your car after an accident. It will help you make a decision that aligns with your budget and financial goals.
Benefits of Repairing Your Car After an Accident
There are many benefits to having your car repaired at an NJ body shop. These benefits may help you decide whether to repair your car. Let’s take a look:
Preserve Your Vehicle’s Value
Properly repairing your vehicle after a collision is one of the best ways to preserve its resale value. This is important for those drivers who intend on selling or trading in their current vehicle. Potential buyers and dealerships want to know that you have taken good care of the vehicle, so having appropriate repairs not only instills confidence in the car but in you as a seller.
Additionally, a car with proper repairs and a clean history may be more attractive to potential buyers. They might be more willing to pay a premium for a vehicle they know has been well taken care of, ensuring that your investment in the repairs is more likely to pay off when it comes time to sell or trade in the car.
Peace of Mind and Safety
After an accident, driving a car that has undergone thorough repairs provides peace of mind. Knowing that your car is restored to its pre-accident condition and has been inspected for safety ensures that you and your passengers are protected on the road.
When your car is repaired correctly, all the safety features and systems are brought back to their original functionality. Airbags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and other safety mechanisms are crucial for protecting you in the event of another accident. Proper repairs can ensure that these safety features will work as intended if needed.
Furthermore, driving a car with unresolved damages can be stressful and nerve-wracking. Driving is taxing enough without the nagging worry that something might go wrong or that the car may not perform as expected can be a constant burden. On the other hand, knowing that your car has been professionally repaired can bring peace of mind, allowing you to focus on driving without unnecessary anxiety.
Avoiding Future Issues
The damages caused by accidents are not always immediate. For example, a minor dent or scratch on the exterior may not seem like a big concern initially, but leaving it unrepaired can lead to rust and corrosion over time, further deteriorating the body and causing more extensive damage. As such, you want to get those repairs done as soon as possible to avoid future issues down the road.
Furthermore, ignoring repairs in more essential areas—like the engine, transmission, and suspension—can lead to more severe issues, including decreased performance and higher costs of repair in the future.
By promptly addressing all damages, you ensure that your car remains in optimal condition and performs reliably.
Familiarity and Reliability
Another benefit that may be overlooked initially is familiarity with your vehicle. If you’ve been driving the car for a long time, you are already familiar with its quirks and features. Repairing the car allows you to retain your familiarity with the vehicle, making it easier to adapt and continue driving comfortably. Your vehicle may also have customized parts and modifications that you don’t want to lose after the accident. If you were to purchase a new vehicle, you wouldn’t have the same car—even if the model and year is the same—and that can be upsetting.
Additionally, familiarity means you already know how your current car performs. By repairing your vehicle, you know that it will retain that level of reliability it had before the accident, adding to your peace of mind.
Cons of Repairing Your Car After an Accident
No choice should be made without first weighing both the pros and cons. How do you know if fixing a car after an accident is worth fixing? When the benefits outweigh the disadvantages! Here are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind when deciding whether to have your vehicle fixed:
The cost of car repairs after an accident can be a significant consideration. Depending on the extent of the damage, repairs can be expensive. Modern vehicles have complex systems; even seemingly minor damages can result in costly repairs. Additionally, the cost of parts and labor can vary based on the make and model of the car. If you have a high deductible on your insurance policy, you may have to cover a substantial portion of the repair costs yourself. In some cases, the repair costs can approach or even exceed the car’s market value, making it financially impractical to proceed with the repairs.
If the damage done in the collision was severe, then there is a high likelihood that the repairs are going to take some time. This means that you may be without a vehicle for weeks or months. You will have to find an alternative means of transportation, which can be inconvenient and adds to the overall cost of repairs. Do keep in mind that some insurance companies will provide you with a rental vehicle. That said, you are going to want your car back soon.
Your insurance premiums may increase after an accident, especially if you file an insurance claim. Insurance companies consider various factors when determining premium adjustments, including the severity of the accident, who was at fault, and your driving history. If the accident was your fault, you can expect a higher premium increase. These premium hikes can persist for several years, resulting in additional long-term costs.
In cases where the car is deemed a total loss, the insurance company may issue a salvage title. A salvage title indicates that the car has suffered severe damage, and the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of the car’s value. While some people may choose to repair a car with a salvage title, it can significantly impact the vehicle’s resale value and insurability in the future. Insurers may be hesitant to provide full coverage for a car with a salvage title, and potential buyers might be wary of purchasing a vehicle with this designation.
Looking for Top-Rated Auto Body Shops in NJ for Accident Repairs?
After a car accident, it’s essential to assess the extent of the damage, considering safety, insurance coverage, and various factors when deciding whether to repair your vehicle. While cosmetic damages may be worth fixing, severe structural damage might indicate that it’s time to consider a replacement. By making an informed decision and choosing a reputable auto body shop like Elmer’s Auto Body, you can ensure that your car is back on the road safely and efficiently.
Elmer’s Auto Body is one of the highest-rated collision repair centers in NJ. With our exceptional team of I-CAR-certified and skilled technicians and state-of-the-art facilities, we deliver high-quality collision repairs that exceed industry standards. Choose a trusted name like Elmer’s Auto Body for your repairs. Call us today to schedule an appointment or ask us your questions.