Repair or total loss?

Repair or total loss?

This past weekend my husband and I were rear ended while driving on the street on our way home. Traffic slowed & we came to a stop. The car behind us was speeding and obviously didn’t pay attention because he didn’t start braking until about 10-20 ft behind us. Below is a link to the photo of the accident. In addition to bumper/trunk work, the back glass is cracked, there are paint chips or scrapes where the trunk was once aligned with the rest of the car, and the screen was restarting on its own. The car’s back tires locked & didn’t want to go into tow mode, neutral or any other gear. Hours later the battery died and the windows came down. It’s only 5 months old :( so I’m in a rental for now. Wednesday the adjuster is coming out to take a look and assess the damages. Votes? Repair or total loss?

ElectricAlex | 16 September, 2019

Wheel doesn’t look bent, it will buff out.

lilbean | 16 September, 2019

Doesn't the insurance company decide that?

vmulla | 17 September, 2019

Looks like repair to me - unfortunately.

Does your insurance company have a program like replace a car if it's damaged within a year?

Get an independent estimate from an authorized Tesla body shop. Schedule a tentative work on your car, scheduling work can be a challenge in itself.

Finally, I hope you're going to get a new car.

jimglas | 17 September, 2019

a little bondo and it will be good as new

derotam | 17 September, 2019

humming a little tune... a little bit a bondo on the side, a little bit of sanding make it nice, a little bit of paint to color up, a little bit of clear coat finish up!

calvin940 | 17 September, 2019

Sorry to see that. Seems like a repair to me as well especially with a vehicle that new.

Maxxer | 17 September, 2019

I guess the driver following you didn't have autopilot

Probably repair

bjrosen | 17 September, 2019

Depends on how good your insurance is. GIven that the battery died it suggests that there might be serious internal damage, hopefully they'll total it.

Just_Ted | 17 September, 2019

Also depends on the state/jurisdiction you reside in. Some states REQUIRE insurance companies to total out the vehicle (and pay you the fair market value) if the estimated repair exceeds some statutorily set percentage of the fair market value. (to keep them from "slapping some bondo" on an otherwise dangerous car in order to save a $ or 2)

Bighorn | 17 September, 2019

No way to tell from the photo what the status of the frame is.

globalMan | 17 September, 2019

If the "total" case only pays "fair market value", would it be more advantageous to the OP to have it repaired by a Tesla-approved shop?

M3phan | 17 September, 2019

That just hurts to see. Sorry.

Magic 8 Ball | 17 September, 2019

If car was "totaled" the owner has no choice but to accept settlement, without option to repair, unless owner wants to go out of pocket. The other car looks like it has substantial damage to the front (most likely totaled).

radean84 | 17 September, 2019

I suspect it will be totaled. Volvos are tanks. Got t-boned by one in a 350z - not fun!! It most likely crushed and warped the body structure behind the bumper, trunk floor, etc. When this happens, or if rear quarter panels are damaged, typically the car gets totaled due to heavy labor hours to try and repair. In some cases I would welcome the total loss because I've found cars tend to never be the same after a heavy collision, even if they look okay after the repairs. For example, rattles, water leaks, alignment issues, etc.

apodbdrs | 17 September, 2019

Hope everyone is alright, looks like a very hard rear collision. Good thing you were in a TESLA. Get estimates from Tesla certified body and repair shops. Wonder what Consumer Report and the other TESLA haters are going to say? Was Volvo driver asleep or eating a bagel?? Auto pilot on Volvo would have avoided the crash! LOL?

Bighorn | 17 September, 2019

The Volvo DID have autopilot.

calvin940 | 17 September, 2019

Man I don't care whether the car coming at me like that was a Tesla or any other brand, I would not have been standing there like that as the car accelerated. Jeebus.

jimglas | 17 September, 2019


vincelorto | 17 September, 2019

Hopefully that Volvo had insurance

ColonyGolfer | 17 September, 2019

If you keep the car, be sure you file a DV (Diminution of Value) claim against the Volvo driver's insurance company. After your car is repaired and you want to trade/sell it, the Carfax report will show that your used M3 is worth about $10,000 less than if it had not been in the accident. You are entitled to that difference (in FL, anyway...check your jurisdiction). I had a 2012 Model S backed into and $11,000 damage. The at-fault's insurer paid the repair bill, loss of use claim, and $6800 of my $8000 DV claim. It cost me $300 to have a pro prepare the claim... Google search for someone in your area that will do this for you......good luck

PinkUnicorn | 17 September, 2019
PinkUnicorn | 17 September, 2019

For those asking, I’m in CA. The Volvo did have insurance and is likely a total loss. His air bags deployed and had major front end damage. Luckily the kids were not in the car with us, it was just my husband and I. Front seat belts locked and will no longer retract. My neck experienced quite a bit of whiplash, but hopefully that will get better with time. Also our phones (mine was next to my leg on the seat, husbands was on center console) flew into the dash and both our screens cracked in the same place bottle left corner. Will the other parties insurance cover the cost to replace our phone screens?
@ColonyGolfer: Great advice, I will definitely look into this!

Kary993 | 17 September, 2019

You should have the insurance company total the car.

tbd2001_01 | 17 September, 2019

Put order in for new one....

Bighorn | 17 September, 2019

If the insurance company knows you're putting in a claim for diminished value, that may change their view on whether or not to total the car.

globalMan | 17 September, 2019

Kary993, can you explain why getting the car totaled is better financially for the OP?

rxlawdude | 17 September, 2019

@global, not @AKary, but in California, the at-fault party is responsible for making the injured party whole.

This means:
Fair market value for a replacement M3 with the same features and approximately the same mileage.
Rental of a COMPARABLE vehicle (not a Chevy Malibu!) for as long as it takes to repair.
Diminished value, if not totaled.

vmulla | 17 September, 2019

"Rental of a COMPARABLE vehicle (not a Chevy Malibu!) for as long as it takes to repair.
Diminished value, if not totaled." @ rxlawdude

Ok then, I change my vote to total loss. That's a lot of rental $$$s | 17 September, 2019

If you do go through the repair process, my guide may help:

The main battery pack has a shock sensor and disconnects automatically in a crash. This means the 12v battery is no longer being recharged, and 5 hours seems reasonable before the 12v failed. Parking brake will be engaged, but I'd expect if 12v power was still available that it should have gone into tow mode. Could easily be symptoms of more significant damage to the rear motor/gearbox.

If the only damage is the trunk, rear glass, seatbelt pretensions, and bumper, it sounds like a $15K repair. If the structure is damaged, rear motor and/or add in the rear quarter-panels and the costs go way up into the totaled category.

globalMan | 17 September, 2019

"..but in California, the at-fault party is responsible for making the injured party whole."

That is true only if the at-fault driver has enough "Property Damage" liability coverage, to pay for the repair cost. I think the minimum Property Damage required in California is only $5000, which usually is not enough to pay for repairing a rear-ended Tesla.

MalibuRed | 17 September, 2019

In California property damage minimum for some stupid reason is $5k. So hopefully they were insured and had above average property damage, I’m assuming you will need to go thru yours.. maybe you have tesla auto insurance and can share your experience. Keep in mind that you cannot get paid for the cell phone damage nor the diminished value thru your own carrier, so hopefully the other party can cover all of your loss for the property damage or any shortage would need to be settled they small claims court. Injuries, if you have any out of pocket expenses or doctor visits is separate from property damage so if this applies then ensure that parties insurance is aware. Hopefully it is repairable. In California the rental thru the other parties carrier only is required to pay for reasonable transportation not a comparable. Also if the limits are low then they don’t need to offer it,

surfpearl | 17 September, 2019

Repair, no-brainer. Get everything triple-checked by trusted professionals and recall that Model 3 had the highest crash safety rating in all categories (forward, rearward, side collisions, etc.) which means the car was made strong. This famous "tank Volvo" got crumpled like a toy(ota) in the collision with the new "tank" on the block. I'm not saying that the crash safety rating automatically translates to repair worthiness, but you will find out. Do keep us posted on the outcome and good luck!

Resist | 17 September, 2019

When my Model 3 was hit in the rear quarter panel, the other party had a $10k property damage limit, the repair bill was over $12k and I also had a $1k deductible. I find it insane that my State of California has a minimum property damage limit of $5k. What can be repaired for $5k in a modern vehicle accident? Had I known all this prior to my accident I would have had a lower deductible and made sure I had underinsured coverage on my policy. And yes, I'll probably end up having to sue the other party for the difference, but winning that doesn't mean getting paid, that's another issue. And then I'd have to ask if all that time spent and frustration is worth it in the end.

ODWms | 18 September, 2019

I’d rather it be totaled, myself. Order a new car, and get it in a few days to a couple of weeks, rather than having to wait months for that kind of a repair. The insurance company will be looking at some serious rental payments on top of everything else.

Bighorn | 18 September, 2019

Total—no brainer.

vmulla | 18 September, 2019

This case twists me in all directions

I want it to be repaired because
- I hope to feel Teslas are easy to repair
- I want Tesla insurance costs to be low
- I don't like the idea of drastic deprecation of Teslas in case of an accident history

I want it to be replaced because
- this is a newer car, I feel for the owner
- I don't wish months of repair time on anyone
- seems to be the path of least resistance (for everyone except guilty party insurance)
- hopefully owner will benefit from HW3


How would Tesla insurance treat this? Would they perhaps give a comparable Tesla while the car was being fixed, that would definitely swing my vote towards Tesla insurance (beyond the numbers)

gballant4570 | 18 September, 2019

Totaled or not depends on if the repair cost exceeds the replacement cost. Can the adjuster accurately estimate the repair cost in this case? Might take a bit of investigating on his part. What happens if the adjuster says repair, and then the repair cost exceeds the replacement cost? It will be interesting to see how this ends up - but likely painful for the OP. But as vmulla says, a case like this could be a good indicator regarding Tesla insurance.

vmulla | 18 September, 2019

I had the case of adjuster determining a repair on my Nissan Leaf, and the repair costed 3X what the initial estimate was.
When the car was rear-ended it just looked like a bumper crush at low speed, and work was estimated at $3.5K. After the work was completed they needed to recertify the car by the dealer. The dealer charged 8k to reconnect the battery that was automatically disconnected for safety. 8k? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Nothing out of my pocket, but that's a good example of a repair estimate going sideways. Anyway, the body shop, dealer, insurance and Nissan leasing worked something out between themselves.

One good thing about Tesla approved body shops work with Tesla service center, the costs to recertify the car are worked info the repair estimate. Just make sure the adjuster uses the info from Tesla approved body shops.

PinkUnicorn | 18 September, 2019

Update: The adjuster came out today and estimated $5200 in damages (parts, labor, and taxes). This was a Mercury adjuster so not too sure how accurate this...Will be going to a Tesla repair shop soon and I'll post their estimate as well. $5200 is a little hard to believe.

vmulla | 18 September, 2019

That's a BS estimate.

A 3 inch crack and dent damage to my front bumperd on my car was $4200

Anything close to a sensor will mean that Tesla has to recalibrate the system, this isn't just regular body work. Please don't go by anything other than an approved Tesla body shop's estimate.

jjgunn | 18 September, 2019

My old man is a Television repairman.....I can fix it


beaver | 19 September, 2019

@jjgunn yours was a little bit more than $5k for being rear ended I recall.

Meanwhile I got hit and spun off the freeway today, likely totaled my Model 3 as I hit an SUV, two poles and a fence. Luckily I am not injured. Sorry this happened and hope you and the other passenger have no injuries.

If you don’t believe that God has a sense of humor then check out where my vehicle came to a stop.

globalMan | 19 September, 2019

@beaver: That looks very serious; good to know you are okay.

Three Model 3s in accidents in about a week (the OP's, yours, and mine) could be a record. I got rear-ended on Friday the 13th. The guy from the repair shop told me that the repair will take at least 2 months.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 19 September, 2019

beaver: Convenient, or ironic? Glad you are safe, Man.

"We are all just God's animated cartoons." -- Tom Hanks

Bighorn | 19 September, 2019

Sorry beaver! I guess you can fine tune your choices on car #2.
I barely escaped your neck of the woods intact. Almost bought it at the Santa Monica exit. I understand the CA accidents, especially when driving AP0.

beaver | 19 September, 2019

Thanks for the support everyone, it looks worse than it was, the front crumples like mad. Yes it may be a good time for a replacement, a lot of used MR+ with 200 miles for sale. But I need the LR battery.

The car does an amazing job protecting us.

bjrosen | 19 September, 2019

What insurance company do you have? If they estimated $5200, they are deliberately low balling you. You might need a lawyer for this. TFLcar has a series of videos on Youtube about what they went through to fix what appears to be a minor dent on their Model 3. In their case all that happened was that they backed the car into the corner of their garage door, nothing as compared to your damage. It took three months and $12000 to fix it.

As an aside you should always have uninsured and under-insured coverage especially if you live in or near a state which doesn't mandate car insurance, or in your case doesn't mandate adequate insurance. I live in MA which has had mandatory car insurance for many decades, but right next door is NH which doesn't require car insurance.

vmulla | 19 September, 2019

@bjrosen is right. It's best if you prepare yourself for a fight.

jonabramson | 19 September, 2019

I saw a youtube video where someone was testing something on a Tesla Model 3 and backed into the garage and while doing so, crushed the left quarter panel and tail light. That was a $6200 repair. I don't think the adjuster knows enough about the cost to repair a Tesla. Get a Tesla repair shop estimate as you intend to and let us know what they say.

vmulla | 19 September, 2019

Just for a reference:
This is my Model 3's damage, it costed $4200 to fix.