Scrapping my car versus repairing it: I'd like input!
My husband and I were sitting at the dining room table Sunday, just after breakfast and heard a slow crack, followed by a crash. We had the windows open so it was impossible to miss.
We race outside and see that Larry the Landlord's whomping willow had finally decided to fall over. The tree, dead a decade or more by now with a huge hole in the side, really does (did) look just like the whomping willow in the Harry Potter movies. The tenant, Derrek, begged Larry the Landlord to cut it down before the tree fell on one of his kids.
The whomping willow took out ten feet of our chain-link fence and landed on our car. Our property, Larry the Landlord's tree.
He should have cut down that tree ten years ago. It's been waiting to fall over since he pollarded it multiple times, finally killing it.
The fence estimate was $900 but we can do the work ourselves for much, much less.
The problem is the car.
It's a 2011 Ford Focus sedan with 86,000 miles on it. It's our only car and we can't afford another. Indie writers, you know, with an indie writer income to match. Larry the Landlord is digging in his heels about making good. The Ford Focus has been a good little car, we maintain it carefully, and we've never had any problems with it. I expected to reach 200,000 miles before replacing it, kicking and screaming.
USAA claims that the car, according to the body shop estimate, is totaled because of its age. That is, the repairs to make it perfect will run about $4000. Yet I can't buy a replacement car of similar value for $4000!
When did it become better to replace a car rather than repair it? The frame isn't twisted. All the damage is confined to the rear passenger side. The gas tank opening is unaffected, as is the trunk operations, and the lights. It drives fine. The rear passenger side tail-light is cracked, there are some dents, and the side panel detached itself, but my husband pushed it back into place. The bumper is fine too. We are told it won't pass inspection because of the tail-light cracks and I can't just cover up the missing section with clear tape. Pennsylvania can be picky.
$4000! $4000 to repair and USAA wants me to scrap the car and buy another as if I'm made of money. This is just crazy. Unlike the fence, we can't fix it ourselves as we aren't shade-tree mechanics and our local shade-tree guy moved away. I don't care if the replacement part is the same color as the rest of the car. Cars are transportation, not an important part of my self-image.
$4000 to do basic repairs. Oh, and I'll have to get a salvage title for the car, too, since USAA says we have to because the damage is more than the worth of the car.
This is all crazy, deeply frustrating, and eating up huge amounts of my time.
Teresa from Hershey