As the title mentions, I got into an accident, my first. I wasn't driving recklessly, it was slick out and when I turned onto downward highway merge lane the car at the bottom was stopped completely and I had to slam on my brakes, to no avail, thing just kept sliding for 3 car lengths and went straight into them. Their car only got bumped up a bit in the back but as you can see from the pic mine kind of blew up like a pinata. Good for safety I guess but it's going to be bad for my wallet.

I got cited as the rear-ender and I don't have comprehensive (just liability), which I now know was foolish of me, especially having a decent vehicle. I had my vehicle towed to a body shop where the guy indicated it would be around ~$10k to fix everything, maybe $12, with an optimistic low end of $6k if he cuts corners on some of the parts and doesn't get all stock. He's doing a closer estimate right now and I should get some more info later today, and I might get a second opinion if it's worth it.

Is it worth dropping the $6-10k to get this thing repaired or am I due for a lifetime of mechanical headaches even after the additional sunk cost? I still have payments left on the vehicle. I know it's difficult to gauge exactly what got screwed up from one picture, I'm looking more for general experience. Both airbags blew up, front part of the engine (the vent part) got pushed in, and random things got busted on the exterior. Sides and back are largely OK. It wasn't high velocity so a lot of the engine makeup may still be intact (I probably hit them at ~20-25mph).

Thank you for any insight. This is a 2016 Nissan Maxima with 36k miles which is going for about $19-21k used right now on the market.


  • Note to self, if it is still on payments then have fully comp...
    – Solar Mike
    May 10, 2019 at 14:45
  • Cool story. Anyway, if you can't afford to replace the item then you should have carried insurance. Your car is a total loss. There's no fixing this. And it's unlikely to sell in the future. Sell it for scrap if you can (try a salvage yard, they part out late model wrecks) and then buy a used car with a clean title and Carfax. Buy from a reputable dealer. Good luck.
    – geoO
    May 10, 2019 at 15:03
  • @SolarMike If you are making payments the finance company has made full coverage a condition of your loan since they are a leinholder to the vehicle. Your name isn't the only one on the title.
    – geoO
    May 10, 2019 at 15:06
  • @geoO Then either you or I mis-read what the OP stated in the original post ... see "I still have payments left on the vehicle." in paragraph 3... Did you consider that it could be a personal bank loan and not lease / finance?
    – Solar Mike
    May 10, 2019 at 15:07
  • @SolarMike Hmm. Sounded like a car loan to me. Like he had a commitment to pay. Maybe he's committing insurance fraud or simply has no insurance. Whatever. Something smells fishy.
    – geoO
    May 10, 2019 at 15:24

3 Answers 3


I think it largely depends on how much you personally value the car. Judging from just that picture, it doesn't look too bad. I doubt there will be future repercussions after it's fixed, as long as it's done correctly (though I don't have experience with these things). Depending on how much money you pour into it, you may end up settling with having a slightly crooked frame forever (although for a front end collision it may be possible that the frame is more or less straight still). I think a closer picture of what's in the engine bay would be necessary to give a better analysis.

  • 1
    You would need to put that on a jig and measure the chassis properly to be sure.
    – Solar Mike
    May 10, 2019 at 14:25
  • 2
    " I wasn't driving recklessly" - yeah, they all say that. Whatever, when you eventually want to sell the car, if a buyer can pick up the fact that the vehicle has had a major repair and you don't have a some very good paperwork to cover it (an insurance-backed repair is good, some repair shop doing a cut-price job not so much) a smart buyer would just walk away - there are plenty more cars on the market. That said, there are plenty of car buyers who aren't very smart...
    – alephzero
    May 10, 2019 at 14:37

The damage is difficult to assess from a single photograph, however from what I can see, the damage looks largely cosmetic. Two key questions here; does the vehicle still start and move under its own power? Are the chassis rails still straight?

I can't tell from the photo but it looks like it hasn't lost any fluid. If this is the case, the radiator may still be intact. If so, you may find that there is no mechanical repair. If the radiator is damaged and no longer holds fluid, you can still start the engine from cold but don't run it for long (i.e. just a few seconds to see if it runs and drives). If it does run and drive, even if you need a radiator, it's probably worth fixing.

The next thing to do is to remove the damaged front bumper and inspect the chassis rails. These are the two length of box-section that run along the car and that the engine and gearbox sit on. If the chassis rails are undamaged, it's almost certainly worth fixing.

Assuming that it still drives and is fundamentally straight, your next job is to source the parts you need. You can either scour the breakers yards or scour eBay. Try to find a new bonnet (hood), grill, slam panel and front bumper. The ideal scenario is that you find a car which has heavy rear end damage, is the same colour and you can source all of the parts from. If that isn't possible and you end up getting pieces from different vehicles or in the wrong colour, a decent bodyshop will be able to paint them to a high standard in the correct colour.

Modern cars tend to come apart in a really obvious and methodical way although you may need to but some modern sockets such as 12-point splines keys or torx sockets. Don't forget the source any bits of plastic under-tray or arch-liners which may be damaged.

If you find that the car won't start or move under it's own power or that the chassis rails are mangled, you may find putting the car into a salvage auction may be the best option. That's assuming you don't have any finance secured against it.

Good luck, if you do decide to fix it, this place is a great place to find advice at every stage of the repair.


believe it or not, half that damage estimate is probably the air bags, and another two is most likely painting it. If you could get lucky and get parts the correct color from a salvage yard, you could fix that car for under a thousand dollars, but you'll have to ebay the airbags since most junk yards won't sell them since the recalls.

As a side note: I just fixed this exact damage on my ford focus. It cost me $300.

  • Wish I was mechanically inclined, sounds like you saved a ton yourself.
    – Jack
    May 10, 2019 at 16:45
  • well to be fair, it's not 100% fixed. my front bumper plastic is still damaged and my power steering pump was damaged and leaks and i never fixed the ac.
    – John Lord
    May 14, 2019 at 18:12

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