I’m struggling with what to do with my car. For those of you who don’t know, I was hit by a red light runner, causing $2410 in damage. My car is worth $3500 at most, meaning the damage is 70% of the car’s value (the threshold to total it). So there’s a good chance my car will get totaled. This leaves me 2 options: try and buy back and rebuild it or buy a new (to me) car.

I would say rebuild it because mechanically, it’s excellent. However, there is rust (not Michigan rust but more than Chicago rust) and it has 212k. Not a ton for this car, but newer and/or lower miles would be nice. Additionally, there’s the cost and hassle of that. Illinois is an awful state for rebuilding and sadly that’s where I live. For the 2 minimum inspections and fees, I’m looking at $250 for just the process, not including repairs or the cost to buy back. Additionally it has to be rebuilt with new or background checked parts (no stolen parts), so I’m looking at $700 for the headlight and $700 for the fender, labor included. So far we’re at $1650 minimum, not including the cost of buy back. If that’s $600, I’m at $2250 for a slightly less beat up, rusty-but-trusty, 14 year old car. That’s not including anything else necessary they might find or if I’d have to take the $100 inspection again.

*as a note: the headlight has to be fixed to pass inspection and the fender is too bent to be repairable and it’s currently inside the headlight housing, so it’d have to be replaced too. Why not do it myself? Well in the state of Illinois, that’s illegal. It has to be done by a licensed rebuilder.

On the flip side, there’s a chance I could save a couple hundred (maybe), so that’d be nice.


If I buy a car, I could get newer or lower miles or both, but it’ll have it’s own problems that I’ll have to learn and I’ll have to rebuild that level of trust. Additionally, I probably wouldn’t save any money this way. I’m happy with my car but something bigger and/or faster would be nice considering how much I drive on the highway.

Thank you for listening to my rambling and if you’d have any advice or knowledge about this process, please leave a comment!

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