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3/4/22 9:32 p.m.

Hello! A friend Duke recommended I reach out here seeing as this is probably the best place to find help. 

Back in the middle of December I was involved in an accident in my 2014 BMW 328d M sport, 74k miles. Witness stated the young girl was making a left on green arrow and the arrow ended, as it ended she froze in my lane as I was traveling at speed to the intersection. They were found at fault and I chose to take it to a very reputable repair facility, Cavallo Auto Body.  No air bags were deployed. The car was disassembled and they found more damage and requested more money. It was all fine and dandy until it hit a value threshold and now state farm is considering it totaled. From what I can gather they are giving it an ACV(Actual Car Value) at $23,000 and required $16,500+ in repairs. So the problem is They're comping the vehicle based on local vehicles of "similar spec" and none of those came back with the packages - mostly the m-sport package which increases the market value quite a bit. Most are selling for over $30000 so I'd have to shell out an addtl $10000? Hell, I cant even find one for sale right now with the 4 piston brake upgrade. 

So how can I prevent them from totalling my car? 

I gather I have a few options

-I can buy the car back ($3700), pay it off and it has a salvage title. Now I still have a broken vehicle. Can I go to my insurance to get it fixed at this point?

-I can get a separate appraisal and hope that they increase the value but from my last conversation with State Farm - theyre still going to consider it totalled no matter what....so I guess I need to get my insurance involved at that point?

-I buy it back and fix it myself but it'll never be as clean as if it were done properly.


Help me save my wife's baby


Mndsm MegaDork
3/4/22 9:50 p.m.

I'm no expert but I would do two things. First, I would ask them for the examples they used to compare your car to their value, and take the time to point out the difference. Second, I would have all of the ones you just mentioned ready to go, and point out the differences between the two. 

Duke MegaDork
3/4/22 10:06 p.m.

Good luck!  There are a couple folks in the industry that are regulars here. Hopefully you'll get some good advice.


Slippery UberDork
3/4/22 10:08 p.m.

Shut, my wife has the exact same car as you with 65k miles ... are you saying its worth $30k? I was offered $16k by Carvana. 

Yes, 2014 diesel wagon M Sport/cold weather etc etc. Gray/red int. 

Stampie MegaDork
3/4/22 10:09 p.m.

Comps are everything.  But if you buy it back you are now responsible for the repairs not insurance.  Also some insurance companies will not insure rebuilt titled cars.  Where are you located as a lot of insurance laws are different state to state?

Chaulklet New Reader
3/4/22 10:21 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

I am located in Delaware. Never had an issue with insuring a salvage title vehicle in the past. 

Chaulklet New Reader
3/4/22 10:22 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Check autotrader/cars.com/carsandbids/BAT.....the msport's are pulling a HUGE premium. the only deterrent apparently is the fact that its a 2014. 

Loweguy5 HalfDork
3/4/22 11:58 p.m.

I'm all for buying the car back, but since there was more severe damage that was initially missed what makes you confident you can a: fix it properly and b: fix it cheaper?  Food for thought as rhetorical questions of course.

Also, in many instances an insurance company will not write a full coverage policy on a previous salvage vehicle, and when they do what they cover and how much they pay would be dramatically lower than a non-salvage vehicle.

A properly repaired salvage title vehicle in a non-covid market is normally worth 50-60c on the dollar compared to its clean title counterpart.  If you value a nice one at $30k, using the formula above means it probably worth in the $15-$17k range all done.  Is it worth all the hassle and hard work?

I was in the car business for 15 years and my instinct based upon your description is to find higher comps and hope for a bigger check to total it.  I think that's the smart play.

jgrewe HalfDork
3/5/22 12:52 a.m.

I had a friend that went through this a long time ago with a 323GTX. Insurance company offered him a number he didn't like for his wrecked car. It was a clean, low mile example. He basically told them to find him one as clean and he would accept it. He fought them for a few months. They searched nation wide and one finally came up for sale and sold quickly at about twice the price they wanted to pay him. They ended up fixing the car because the increased value raised the "totalled" number.

Duke MegaDork
3/5/22 6:58 a.m.

If you can, send a PM to a user named SKJSS.  They are in the biz.


Slippery UberDork
3/5/22 7:40 a.m.
Duke said:

If you can, send a PM to a user named SKJSS.  They are in the biz.


Ddavid as well can give you guidance. 

ddavidv UltimaDork
3/5/22 8:37 a.m.

I burst out laughing when I read "I took it to Cavallo Auto Body".

Yeah, they do nice work. But they also way overcharge for the area and fight eternally with insurance companies. Most companies would rather total the car than deal with them and their endless supplements. Sorry for the truth bomb.

As for the value, you have to basically prove them wrong.  You will need to find comparables no further than the mid-Atlantic region. Same year, with very similar mileage and equipment. It probably won't be easy.  Also, go over their valuation report and pick out any errors or omissions on equipment.  As a former BMW owner I and appraiser I will tell you BMW SUCKS for VIN decoding on the estimating database. They are loathe to share information and so when we decode the VIN it does not accurately depict what is on the car.  Usually omits quite a few things. The stealership can get you a build sheet for the car that shows all of the equipment it came with.  They really should have done this but few do.

Customizations, if you did any, add little to no value on the marketplace. 

BMWs of that vintage are absolute nightmares to fix. All of us appraisers hate them. Hidden/surprise damage is constant. I would never undertake trying to fix one myself for a salvage title, particularly if I'm paying the prices at Cavallo's.  And, parts are a nightmare to get right now from every brand. I'd strongly encourage you to get a fair price on the car and run away as quickly as possible. There's no happy ending to you paying to fix that yourself.

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
3/5/22 6:17 p.m.

Not sure if this makes financial sense but:

Let them totally it, argue for the highest value you can.

Buy back the car.

Rather than fix it,  find a "regular" spec car you like and transfer the " M" parts over.

PMRacing UltraDork
3/5/22 7:27 p.m.

I had this happen to me except I knew the car was totalled. Insurance came in $10k under value. My car was one of 4 optioned this way and not replaceable. I made a spreadsheet that had the window sticker and option prices for the car. Then found as many similar cars as possible.  Then I calculated the depreciation for my car based on market value and options of all the comp cars and sent that to the insurance company. They matched my requested price. 

Sonic UberDork
3/5/22 9:21 p.m.

Ha.  Ddavidv and I work for the same company in the same area.  Cavallos is basically a joke in the industry.  They certainly don't get that big marble waiting room for doing work at reasonable prices.  

I suggest going to another shop with the car to see what they might be able to do to get an agreed price for repair.  You may be able to negotiate an appearance allowance on some small cosmetically damaged parts rather than replacement which can also help keep repair costs a little lower.  You can also discuss the potential for a negotiated property damage release for a set amount less than the total loss value, if they are open to it. 

ddavidv UltimaDork
3/5/22 11:23 p.m.

Except it's already at Cavallo's and torn apart. So they will charge all sorts of fees to get it out of there, including storage, parts restocking, etc.  Once you go in there, you're screwed. Kind of like those buttclowns in Downingtown I can't name because they'd sue me. 

Sonic UberDork
3/6/22 1:55 a.m.

Yup, you're right.  They are totally professional.  Or classic.  Yup.  

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/6/22 11:28 a.m.

Mdecoder.com has been pretty accurate on the several BMWs I've run. And it's free.

maj75 (Forum Supporter)
maj75 (Forum Supporter) Dork
3/6/22 11:51 a.m.

Their driver is at fault.  Fix the car where you want and sue them for the cost of repairs.  They have to reimburse you what it costs you to repair.  Your insurance company can total the car because it says so in your insurance policy.  You don't have a State Farm policy.  Screw them.  Spend your money to repair your car.  State Farm can refuse to pay but they can't win in court.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
3/6/22 4:52 p.m.

In reply to maj75 (Forum Supporter) :

I'm pretty sure that they don't have to reimburse the cost of repair - they have to make you (economically) whole, but that means they can also give you a check for the actual value of the car if they decided to total it when repairing it would not be economical.

dps214 Dork
3/6/22 5:47 p.m.

Even if his post was totally correct...maybe they can't win in court but it's going to cost you a bunch of money to take them to court and get them to pay up.

As a higher level comment, regardless of the car's actual value...do you really want to be driving around in a car that's had $20k of frame repairs? Realistically you want the car to be totaled, just with an appropriate valuation and payout. If you really love the car that much and a duplicate is that hard to find, then do what someone said and buy it back and transfer all the special parts to a lower optioned car.

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
3/6/22 11:57 p.m.
maj75 (Forum Supporter) said:

Their driver is at fault.  Fix the car where you want and sue them for the cost of repairs.  They have to reimburse you what it costs you to repair.  Your insurance company can total the car because it says so in your insurance policy.  You don't have a State Farm policy.  Screw them.  Spend your money to repair your car.  State Farm can refuse to pay but they can't win in court.

Do not do this.  Very bad advice, and completely incorrect.  Also, Cavallo is ANYTHING but reputable.  They are scammers of the first order.  I'm willing to bet the car being there had something to do with the decision.  If I was the adjuster and had that damage to the car, I would total it too... even if you proved it was worth $30k.

Oh, and it wouldn't be State Farm you would sue, it's the policyholder.

To answer the question, with the current situation it's best to just let the car go.

dean1484 MegaDork
3/7/22 7:27 a.m.

Let it go. Put the car behind you. Focus on the comps and getting what FMV for the car.  Happened with one of my cars. Very similar situation in that I did not want it totaled but the up side is I got my current car that I like way better. It sucks but it is the reality of the situation.  

dean1484 MegaDork
3/7/22 7:29 a.m.

Oh and listen to SKJSS. He has  probibly forgotten more about this kind of thing than most people know.  

ddavidv UltimaDork
3/7/22 8:14 a.m.
maj75 (Forum Supporter) said:

Their driver is at fault.  Fix the car where you want and sue them for the cost of repairs.  They have to reimburse you what it costs you to repair.  Your insurance company can total the car because it says so in your insurance policy.  You don't have a State Farm policy.  Screw them.  Spend your money to repair your car.  State Farm can refuse to pay but they can't win in court.

This is a shining example of bad internet advice. 

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