What Are the Signs a Vehicle is Totaled?

So. You’ve been in an accident. A pretty serious one, at that. As you climb out of your car on shaky legs, you check yourself for any signs of damage. Thankfully, your body seems fine. However, as you turn back toward your vehicle, you notice your car has sustained some serious damage. As your eyes take in dented metal and broken windows, one thought enters your mind: “Is my car totaled?”

It’s a fair question to ask when you’ve been in an accident, and perhaps one that can be answered easier than you think.

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When Is a Car Considered as “Totaled”?

According to an article posted by American Family Insurance, a car is totaled when “a car is considered to be a total loss when the overall cost of damages approaches or exceeds the value of the car.”

In short, your insurance company considers a car totaled when the cost to fix it is higher than the vehicle’s approximate worth. They do this by calculating the car’s actual value, salvageable value, and cost of repair. If repair costs exceed the car’s value, it will be considered totaled. As such, it’s more common for older vehicles to be considered totaled. Vehicles with high mileage or prior minor damage are also likely to be considered totaled as well.

Common Signs Your Car Is Totaled After an Accident

Even though you won’t receive the official word on the status of your car until your insurance company has had time to determine value and cost to repair, you can identify common signs to determine whether your car is totaled.

It’s In No Condition to Drive

The first, and likely most determinant, warning sign that your car may be totaled is whether it is still drivable. Take the following into consideration when determining whether your car is drivable:

  • Does the car start and stay running?
  • Are parts on the exterior and interior warped or bent?
  • Is anything obstructing your view? This includes looking out the windshield and into any mirrors.
  • Are there any notable or intense odors emitting from the car?

Does your vehicle start, and can you safely drive it? Both are important questions when trying to determine if your car is totaled. If you can’t drive it, expect the cost to fix your car to exceed the car’s value.

It’s Leaking Fluids

Next, your car may be considered totaled if it’s leaking a notable amount of fluid. This sign isn’t as cut and dry as the previous one, as some fluids are more important than others. In general, your car needs 8 essential fluids to run properly:

  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Radiator fluid
  • Engine oil
  • Coolant
  • Antifreeze

If your car is leaking certain fluids like transmission fluid and engine oil, it’s more likely that it’ll be considered totaled by your insurance company. Keep in mind though that fluid leaking from your car won’t immediately tell you whether your car is totaled. You can combine that with other key indicators to make a firmer judgment call. 

There’s Extensive Damage to the Frame

Frame damage can get really expensive to fix properly. On average, you should expect to pay $2000-$10,000 to fix extensive damage to the frame of your car. The more damage to the frame there is, the more expensive it’s going to be to fix.

This is because your car’s frame acts like the skeleton to the body of your vehicle. Every component of the vehicle rests on the structural support provided by the car’s frame. If that frame isn’t properly repaired, your car could become unpredictable and dangerous to drive at high speeds. 

Your Car is Old or Has a Lot of Mileage

Regardless of how damaged your car is, be aware that your car is more likely to be totaled if it is older than 10 years and has a lot of mileage. The value of your car depreciates with every year you have it and every mile you drive it. Therefore, older vehicles with high mileage won’t be assigned the same value as newer ones with less miles. 

If you’ve got an older car or one that’s driven a lot of miles, you’re more likely to hear from your insurance agent that it’s been totaled – even if the damage wasn’t all that severe to the naked eye. 

So as you watch the tow truck haul away your beloved two-door Honda Civic you bough tin high school, keep in mind this may be your last farewell. 

The Front of the Vehicle Has Significant Damage Due to Impact

Your car is made up of countless high-value parts and computers that allow it to run effectively out on the open road. Its operation relies on all these different parts working together in sync, but the most valuable of these parts can be found in the front of your car. These parts include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • The engine
  • The battery
  • The gear box
  • The steering wheel

If your car sustains most of the damage at the front, know that it’ll be much more expensive to fix. 

The Vehicle Caught on Fire

This one may seem obvious, but if your car catches aflame or even explodes, expect for it to be totaled. Not only does fire or explosions cause expensive cosmetic damage to your vehicle, but it can severely damage heat-sensitive components that are expensive. 

Have Questions? Give the Experts a Call

At Hance’s Auto, we’ve been serving Dallas, Uptown, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, and all the surrounding communities for over 70 years. Beginning in 1955, we’ve been Texas’ most-beloved servicer for the following:

  • Collision Repairs
  • Insurance Claim Handling
  • Valet Service for Scheduled Repairs
  • Auto Body Repair Work
  • Frame Straightening
  • Refurbishing
  • Enhancements
  • Painting, Touch Ups
  • Precision Color Match
  • Window Replacement

We can help you get your car’s damages repaired and provide rental car services to keep you on the road in the meantime. You can schedule an estimate or repair through our site, or you can give us a call 214-214-4733

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