Is It Better to Have a Car Totaled or Repaired?

The decision of whether to have a car totaled or repaired is a significant one, and it often arises after a car accident. Each option has its pros and cons, and making the right choice depends on various factors. In this article, we will explore the considerations that come into play when deciding between repairing or totaling your car.


Car accidents can be distressing, and the aftermath often involves a crucial decision: repair the damaged vehicle or declare it totaled. To make an informed choice, it’s essential to understand the implications of each option.

Understanding the Total Loss Threshold

2.1. What Does It Mean to Total a Car?

When a car is “totaled,” it means the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds its actual cash value (ACV). The ACV is the car’s market value before the accident, adjusted for depreciation.

2.2. Factors That Determine Total Loss

Several factors influence the decision to declare a car totaled, including the extent of damage, the car’s age, and local regulations. Insurance adjusters play a pivotal role in this determination.

Repairing Your Car

3.1. The Benefits of Repairing

Repairing your car can be a suitable option if the damage is manageable. Benefits include retaining your familiar vehicle, potentially lower insurance rates, and avoiding the hassle of finding a replacement.

3.2. Potential Drawbacks

Repairing your car may not always be cost-effective, especially if the damage is extensive. Additionally, repaired cars might have diminished resale value and potential safety concerns.

Totaling Your Car

4.1. Advantages of Totaling

Totaling your car can provide a clean slate, especially if the vehicle had issues before the accident. It also allows you to claim insurance proceeds that can be put toward a new car.

4.2. Downsides of Totaling

Totaling your car means saying goodbye to your current vehicle. You’ll need to shop for a replacement, which can be time-consuming and potentially costlier.

Factors to Consider

5.1. Car’s Value and Age

The car’s market value and age are significant factors. Older cars with lower values may be more readily totaled, while newer cars might be worth repairing.

5.2. Safety Concerns

Safety should be a top priority. If your car’s structural integrity is compromised, repairing it may not be a safe option.

5.3. Insurance Coverage

Your insurance coverage and deductible play a role in your decision. Review your policy to understand how repairs and totaling are covered.

The Claims Process

The claims process involves reporting the accident to your insurance company, assessing the damage, and receiving a settlement offer. You can negotiate with your insurer if you believe the offer is unfair.


In conclusion, the decision to repair or total your car is influenced by numerous factors, including the extent of damage, your car’s value, and your safety concerns. Understanding the implications of each choice is crucial for making an informed decision.


8.1. Will my insurance rates increase if I choose to repair my car?

Insurance rate changes vary by provider and policy. Repairing your car might not necessarily lead to rate increases.

8.2. Can I keep my car if it’s totaled?

In some cases, you can keep your totaled car, but it will have a salvage title. The insurance company will deduct the salvage value from your settlement.

8.3. How does the deductible affect my decision?

Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. A higher deductible may lower your premium but means more expenses for repairs.

8.4. Is it possible to negotiate with the insurance company on the repair cost?

Yes, you can negotiate with the insurance company if you believe the repair cost estimate is unfair. Providing additional evidence or seeking a second opinion can be helpful.

8.5. What if I disagree with the insurance company’s decision to total my car?

If you disagree with the decision, you can discuss it with your insurance company and provide evidence to support your case. If needed, you can seek mediation or legal advice.

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