The cost to repair a totaled car will vary depending on many factors. An old pick-up will be more expensive than a new BMW. A car that got rear-ended with only body damage will be cheaper to repair than a car that got into a head-on collision with critical (blown engine symptoms) damage. That said, a car that has been in a serious accident that your insurance company has deemed "totaled" will cost a lot to repair. Let’s look at some major expenses you may be hit with.
- Expense #1 Frame Damage
If you get into a severe accident, there is a real possibility your car may have sustained frame damage. This is a major repair, as your car's frame (chassis) is the "backbone" of your car. It’s what holds everything — the drivetrain, suspension, and body — of the car together. Obviously, it’s essential.
On more modern cars, chassis have a built-in "crumple zone," which is meant to, as you guessed it, crumple during a collision. This is a fail-safe meant to crumple so that the body itself (where you and your passengers are located) isn’t the weakest link that crumples with you in it.
Because it’s such a vital part of the car and can take quite a lot of effort to bend the metal back to its correct shape, repairing frame damage can be very costly. On top of that, many insurance companies would rather total a car than fix frame damage because they view it as unsafe. If you can safely drive the car after getting frame damage repairs, it will cost you anywhere from $600 all the way up to over $10,000, depending on the severity of the damage.
- Expense #2 Drivetrain damage
Just like your car’s chassis, your car’s drivetrain is extremely important and integral to the functioning of your car. If you got into a front-end collision, you likely have some drivetrain damage. This includes everything attached to the engine, including the radiator, alternator, and many more parts required for the engine to run. In a really severe accident, the engine may even get knocked off the mounts and may even knock the transmission and the driveshaft out of alignment.
You won’t be able to drive without an engine in full working order; you must fix it before ever trying to drive it again. And because an engine consists of so many parts, fixing it will be costly. The absolute minimum you should expect to pay for drivetrain damage is around $1500 and could go way, way higher depending on how bad it is.
- Expense #3 Body damage
If you get into an accident, even a minor one, it’s safe to assume your car will have body damage. This could mean the bumper, side panels, quarter panels, wing mirrors, bonnet, doors, windshield, and even the wheels. Even without structural damage, these cosmetic repairs will add up. In this case, it’s not just replacing any of the parts we mentioned; it’s also the installation as well as a paint job to get the car looking all in one piece.
A collision from the side will often damage at least one-quarter panel, the doors, windows, and at least one wheel. A collision at an ¼ angle will often damage at least one-quarter panel, one wheel, the bonnet, and possibly the windshield. A collision from the rear will likely involve damage to the one-quarter panel, the trunk, and the rear bumper. As you can see, even just body damage can quickly add up. A small case of body damage will begin around $200 and can very easily go upwards of $2500 depending on the car and the accident. And this is even before you consider things like headlights and brake lights, which will set you back another few hundred dollars at least!