Author Topic: unibody frame damage?  (Read 14415 times)

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unibody frame damage?
« on: July 15, 2006, 01:14:27 AM »
I apologize if I'm in the wrong place for this question, I'm just not sure where to look for real information. Everything online is biased in one way or another. Here's my question-

I was recently in a pretty bad accident in my 05 Mazda 3. I was hit from the rear left side and the damage on that side is pretty bad, estimated around $13,200. When I saw on kbb that the value of my car was around $14,000-15,700, I figured my car would be totalled. But my insurance company says my car is worth $19,400 (more than I bought it for new!) so they want to fix it. (the other guy is at fault so my insurance co. will be going after his for reimbursement obviously)

My concern is, I've read a lot of information that once a unibody frame is damaged, it can hold up poorly in subsequent accidents. I am pregnant and already scared to be driving now, and I refuse to drive a car with my baby that might not be safe. I read that there was a "60 Minutes" report about how once unibody frames were repaired and the car was in another accident, more deaths were caused at 30 mps collisions. It said that unibody cars are not meant to be in two accidents. The trouble is, I can't find the 60 Minutes report or any real facts. Body shops say it can repaired, other websites say the opposite. I've talked to my body shop and they say they are confident they can fix it, but also kinda think it's odd my insurance company is having it fixed. Mazda says they would total it if the damage is 40% of the car's worth.

I've been fighting a little with my insurance company and we pretty much gave up until I read the stuff about people dying in 30 mph accidents. I can't take any risk with my baby.

Can anyone tell me where I can get real facts on this matter? Any opinions?

Thanks so much in advance for any help.

Linkback: http://www.trustmymechanic.com/forum/b1/unibody-frame-damage/9698/

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  • Guest
(No subject)
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2006, 07:28:03 AM »
First, let me offer my sympathies about your accident, and the damage to that poor little car... the Mazda3 is high on my own list of next likely purchase.  I'm glad you came out of it all right. On to business...

Quote
... says they would total it if the damage is 40% of the car's worth.


Can't anyone do simple math any more? The figures you supplied show the damage to be 68% of the car's total worth.

The insurance company is greatly in error. There is no way a Mazda3, now nearly two years old, can be valued at over $19K. Even the car's MSRP when new did not come to that amount. You must challenge the company, over and over, until they realize some clown simply pushed the wrong button on his computer. Revised figures should show damage estimates to be 90-110% of the car's value.

Keep working on the insurance company. For that much damage you should demand a check for total loss rather than seek repairs. If you run into a brick wall, it's time to (sigh) see a lawyer.

In the meantime, I assume you are driving a loaner car supplied by the other driver's insurance company.

As for automotive safety, I can be of no help except to urge you not to believe rumors and hearsay, especially vague reports about 60 Minutes or any stories on the integrity of repaired cars. Such rumors inevitably turn out to be false.

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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2006, 03:04:41 PM »
Thank you for your reply. The problem is I'm just really confused. I had never been in an accident until I got the Mazda 3 in Apr. 05 and I have since been in 3, the other two being fender benders. In the last one, it wasn't my fault either, but my ins. co. (usaa) paid for the repairs and my rental and I assume they were reimbursed. But I dealt only with my ins. co.

This time, we didn't know the info. on the other party until we got a hold of the police report a few days ago. My ins. co. went ahead and got started with my car and my rental. So I am told the $900 rental car coverage on my police applies. If I want to be reimbursed for my out of pocket rental expenses, I'll have to go after his ins. co. (which is why I got a lawyer). When I was talking to the adjuster about how they were hardly saving anything by having my car repaired, he responded "a savings is a savings". I asked if it was true they would be reimbursed by the other guy's ins. co. and he said 'yes, but we still have to make the right decision or they won't agree to reimburse us.'

Going off what kbb says my car is worth, I was fighting them to the death about totalling the car. When they come back with a 28 page report detailing the value of my car, at $19,400, how can I fight that? I have told them what the car costs new and they just said they'd fax me the report, and they did. How can I fight this? It shows that dealerships in my area are marking 05 Mazda 3's at 19K. But that is not what they are getting, and I'm not a dealership. I don't understand why usaa would want to overpay for a total loss. And how is dealership asking price the same as fair market value??

(btw, the local mazda body shop says THEY would total it if the car was going to cost 40% of the value to repair, but usaa says they don't go by any %, 90% is still less than 100%, so they won't total it if it can be fixed)

Everyone keeps asking me why I am not dealing with his ins. co. Well, first of all I have a lawyer so they told me not to deal with them anyway. But still, usaa is telling me what my policy covers and that's that, they they will seek reimbursement for their expenses. Is this how it normally works?

I don't know what to believe about how a car holds up after a second major accident, that's why I'm looking for facts. I don't want to fight a losing battle if there isn't a real reason. The body shop says they can fix it safely. But I am not able to put all the trust in the world on the safety of my unborn baby in the hands of an auto-body shop that I know little about. I know they are reputable, but a 2% chance of my car not crumpling properly in another accident is too much of a risk for me to take. Driving on L.A. freeways everyday, I think it's a matter of time before I get hit again. I emailed the CA Office of Traffic Safety and they told me to find the website of California Department of General Services, Office of Automotive Repair and/or the National Highway Traffic Safety Associations, so I guess I'll try that now. Any suggestions?

So for now, the body shop has started to order parts and tear down my car. Is it too late to fight? I feel like I've exhausted my points about what my car is worth and how safe it will be and got nowhere, and I don't know what else to do.

btw, I love the Mazda 3 and totally recommend it. I cried when it got damaged (yea, I'm a girl lol), but then thought of it as a sign that I need a safer vehicle with side airbags. Want to buy mine when it gets out of the shop? lol It's a great car, I will miss it.


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  • Guest
(No subject)
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2006, 04:39:28 PM »
Please, does anyone have an opinion? I contacted the Federal Dept. of Transportation Safety and they told me to do an online search. I had already explained to them that my online searches result in both sides of the argument - information (usually from body shops) saying a unibody frame can be safely repaired, and I also find information that it is a very bad idea and can result in much greater injuries (or death) if in a second collision. What do the experts think?

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(No subject)
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2006, 06:42:05 AM »
I think you are asking for too much, maybe asking the wrong question. You want to know your chances of getting killed after a collision shop makes repairs to a car with damaged unibody frame. Well, nobody has done authoritative research on that question. How could they? If a car is wrecked, nobody is going to track down its prior repair history if any. There is no research, no database.

Most (all) people in your position would simply want to know if full repairs can indeed be made. Then they would consider their options, such as just getting a check from their insurance company and applying it to another car...

Here is my recommendation, which admittedly has nothing to do with automotive experience. If you get your Mazda3 repaired you will continue to be haunted by an irrational fear factor no matter how much other people try to reassure you. Make the financial sacrifice and replace the car, simply for your peace of mind.

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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2006, 05:22:10 PM »
I understand what you're saying. I guess I wanted opinions from someone who knows about cars who is not involved with MY car. It is hard to trust the mechanic working on your car with your life, because you know they are making money off you. Why would they tell you your car maybe shouldn't be fixed? I didn't expect exact numbers, but a general opinion on if it's safe to do this kind of repair or not. If I was being paranoid or irrational, then I don't mind being told that. It is just scary when you read all these things, and you don't know what's true and what isn't, and the only people "reassuring" you are the insurance company and the body shop, who are both looking after their own interests.

Anyway, it doesn't matter now because when the body shop took my car apart they decided it had to be totalled. Thank you for your time.

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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2006, 05:25:10 PM »
Just a quick side note regarding the trustworthiness of the insurance company. When I was fighting them to have my car totalled they said my car was worth $19,400 and were prepared to pay over $21K (with tt&l) if my car was totalled. Since the damage WAS only $13,200, I knew I had lost the fight regarding the numbers.

Now that my car is totalled, they want the bill of sale on my car to "re-evaluate the value of my car". Obviously, they don't want to pay $21K now. Crooks.

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(No subject)
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2006, 08:41:05 PM »
Why on earth do they need your bill of sale?! They know the book value of your car to the penny from their tables. An insurance company does not need this document. I hope you resist. I also hope you have an early estimate on paper. If so, don't accept a 'revised' value.

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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2006, 12:46:41 PM »
Quote from: "stevefl"
Why on earth do they need your bill of sale?! They know the book value of your car to the penny from their tables. An insurance company does not need this document. I hope you resist. I also hope you have an early estimate on paper. If so, don't accept a 'revised' value.


So this sounds like BS to you too? I'm trying not to cause unnecessary trouble, but it sounded very wrong to me that they are now going to try to reduce the value of my car after they stood behind it so strongly. I still have the 28 page report THEY sent me when I was arguing with them. It says 'USAA CCC ValueScope, claim services, Market Report'. It says- "USAA has conducted an appraisal of your 2005 Mazda 3 4 door sedan located in Whittier, CA. The appraisal information was used to conduct research in your local market to determine the local market value of your vehicle. The recommended settlement amount based on the loss vehicle description provided by USAA is $21,036."

I do believe this is too high, as it's more than I paid for my vehicle new, but this is their report!

I should have a pretty good argument huh? Thanks!

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  • Guest
(No subject)
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 12:54:13 PM »
Bingo! High fives!  You have their settlement offer in writing. Stand firm.

Quote
I'm trying not to cause unnecessary trouble...


Yes you are! You've got them by the short hairs and they know it. Don't give an inch! I suspect they made a mistake, I said so earlier, but they will have to pay for their mistake. It's fair compensation for putting you through such grief, above and beyond that from the accident itself.

Cooperate nada. Insist they hand you a check for $21,036, no less, or their lawyers can speak to your lawyer.

Keep us informed.

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  • Guest
Unibody on the Mazda
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2006, 06:56:39 AM »
So if I understand correctly- The damage to your Mazda-Was the most amoutn to replace the unibody frame or ..

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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2006, 10:17:32 AM »
I agree with steve as long as you have their 28 page report they can't low ball you now....stand firm yell and cuss if you must but they have to pay....... on a side note your story has made me think long and hard about dropping usaa .... good luck and keep us posted

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  • Guest
Re: Unibody on the Mazda
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2006, 08:02:36 PM »
Quote from: "zeke5055"
So if I understand correctly- The damage to your Mazda-Was the most amoutn to replace the unibody frame or ..


I'm sorry, I don't understand the question.

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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2006, 08:08:20 PM »
Quote from: "smdepew1976"
I agree with steve as long as you have their 28 page report they can't low ball you now....stand firm yell and cuss if you must but they have to pay....... on a side note your story has made me think long and hard about dropping usaa .... good luck and keep us posted


So, here's the update. They gave me a fax number of where to fax the bill of sale. My husband faxed them back their fair market value report with a note that said "We don't have the bill of sale. Here is the report given to us by your office. Let me know if you have any questions." Nothing happened for two weeks but then I got a call saying they were going to be paying the 21K  ... so I will be getting a check in the mail after they pay off my loan Smile Over 5 weeks after my accident and over 3 weeks since it was declared totalled. I know people with other ins. companies who got their check in 2 days!

The bad news in my story - turns out the guy who hit me does NOT have insurance. A policy was listed on the police report but whether he didn't pay or what happened, I don't know. Now I'm screwed cause I have medical stuff I need to take care of, and by the time my lawyer gets his part, there isn't going to be enough left under my uninsured motorist coverage. I'm very curious as to what is gonna happen to this guy driving on a suspended license without insurance!?!

Also, USAA isn't going to get reimbursed for anything and I'm told they are for sure going to drop me, even though it wasn't my fault.

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(No subject)
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2006, 09:15:46 AM »
Thanks muchly for the update. We were all anxious to learn how this turned out. It seems we did you $7000 worth of good, advising you to stand firm. Let us all raise a glass in celebration!

As for the rest of your problems, this is the typical hassle of dealing with second-rate companies in any business. You saved a few bucks each year in premiums by dealing with USAA. But as usual, you get what you pay for. They dropped you? Halleluyah. You would have dropped them. Now you can insure with a real insurance company.

The problem with the other driver is beyond our scope.

I hope you apply your settlement check to another Mazda3. They're great little cars.

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