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Question for you car folks...(16 posts)

Question for you car folks...PseuZQ
Oct 31, 2003 2:31 PM
I did something extremely stupid last night that resulted in my driver side door being bent wayyyy far back, and damaging the front fender and, obviously, the door. The door won't shut. The fender is pretty trashed. The door is buckled where it meets the fender.

I only cary liability insurance. No comp, no collision. And I'm cash and c-card challenged at the moment. What's the best way to work with a body shop to get this repaired at a reasonable price?

This is a 1997 Honda Prelude, btw.
Looks like cap-in-hand-at-the-bank timeRoyGBiv
Oct 31, 2003 3:15 PM
My brother-in-law did that once on his 73 Monte Carlo - man was he pissed - and it cost him a few bucks to get it fixed. Body shops always seem to find a wrinkle that has to be worked around and it ends up costing you more; at least that's how it has been in my experience.
Bet you're looking at maybe a grand to get it fixed. I could be wrong and hope I am.
Do you know your friendly neighbhourhood bank manager better than you do the body shop guy? Plead your case for a small line of credit to get you by?
In the meantime, duct tape for that door.
Good luck
Try a salvage yard.sacheson
Oct 31, 2003 3:49 PM
Chances are, you've bent the door frame. Depending on the extent of the damage (it sounds bad), the existing door is beyond repair ... at least bang for the buck with labor costs, it beyond repair.

My family "trade" is automotive stuff. I grew up working in my dad's shop and saw several of these things come through over the years. I seem to remember my dad calling around to different salvage yards and finding something they have in stock. A couple of times, he was even able to locate the same color. Given differences in paint tint from the factory, and different aging effects, it didn't look 1/2 bad.

If there is no other structural damage to the car, installing a new door is pretty trivial. There's a little for aligning the striking post to the latch (when the door closes), but it's all doable.

If the door is pretty damaged, you might try one thing - put a 4X4 between the rocker (lower part of the car body where you step over to get in and out of the car) and the door. Use it as a spacer and try to put pressure on the door to hopefully bend it back towards the body. Make sense? See the diagram for more explanation. Be careful, you don't want to do more damage to the car than already exists.
Thanks! I'll see what I can do.PseuZQ
Oct 31, 2003 11:31 PM
The fender, as you can see, is pretty trashed as well. If I can get the door closed, that will be a good start. I like the salvage idea, too.

Is it typical, though, to get a different quote from a shop if you're paying yourself versus insurance?

FYI, my car rolled down my very steep driveway with the door open, and the door caught a tree. Thank God I didn't hit the car parked across the street, and that no one was driving by at the time.

The good news is that at least I have another way of getting around!
That had to hurt!4bykn
Nov 1, 2003 5:00 AM
I'd try the salvage yard trying to find a door
i and
fender. First thing to do is find a competent body shop to inspect for damage to the supporting structure for the door(door frame). Straightening that if necessary requires a good bit of skill. If the door and fender are all the damage, replacement is really fairly simple. Where I work we can throw a door on a car in about 60 seconds, including connecting all electricals, but that's life in a factory.

Good luck......Mike
Nov 1, 2003 7:34 AM
You asked about different prices for individual v. insurance. In some cases, yes. I know with my family (Grandpa started the business in 1944, dad and uncle have independent shops that grew out of it), customer satisfaction is the first priority. If helping someone out will generate more business in the long run, it is a small price to pay. Plus, there's relatively little risk in a repair like that.

I also know, however, the auto repair industry -especially independent shops- is hurting right now. Economics might play a role in their decision to help. It never hurts to ask, though.

You are lucky that the tree stopped it. I'd hate to think what you'd be looking at if you hit the car across the street!

Let us know how it turns out.
Do you know anything about this stuff? just wonderin'.No_sprint
Nov 4, 2003 1:56 PM
If your pillar is properly in place, everything else is relatively small in comparison. If not, well, that's a whole different story, bigtime. Should you try Sacheson's idea, your sill will surely go before your door. If the whole door is bent, you'll likely not get it back in place, pillar good or not. If the door is not bent and the pillar is ok, it's just the brackets, more than likely. The fender is completely cosmetic and insignificant otherwise.
Clarification regarding the door...No_sprint
Nov 4, 2003 1:58 PM
The skin on the door is completely cosmetic too. Take off the inside panel to see what you're dealing with. As I said, if the pillar is out of place or turned or bent, end of story, fix begins there and you can't do it.
and see Starliner's post below...I just now read it. nmNo_sprint
Nov 4, 2003 2:04 PM
Call a lawyerfiltersweep
Nov 1, 2003 5:50 AM
Sorry- I couldn't resist- everyone seems to recite that like a mantra around here.

Hindsight is 20/20, but why don't you carry comprehensive? It is usually the cheapest "piece" of insurance, since your car has a maximum fixed cost that is relatively low- unlike a skys-the-limit on personal injury (even though they still have caps). In other words, it is usually an extra $20-40/ month for full coverage.

I'm guessing to properly fix your car it will run you at least a few thousand dollars. Seems ANYTHING involving paint is at least a thousand.... it will probably cost more than the car is worth.
Hey, when the moderator is a lawyer ...sacheson
Nov 1, 2003 7:36 AM
... you have to expect some type of revenue generation! ;-)
re: Question for you car folks...jaybird
Nov 1, 2003 4:56 PM
Do a google search for used honda parts. I saved a crapload (that is just shy of a sh!+load) on parts for a Saab that way.

You also might be suprised what body shops can do? And yes it is normal to get a lower quote if you are paying for it yourself.
What, were you doing?the bull
Nov 1, 2003 7:31 PM
Backing up with the car door open?

Looks pretty bad. I would recomend a body shop if I saw you in the dealer with that car.
Forget all the hairbrain Ideas about the 2x4's!
That might only make things worse.
You would save money by getting your body parts from a junk yard.I would get just a door to start with it seals to the frame. The fender is not that important if your money is tight.
The real question is is the frame of car bent where the door bolts to on to it.
Someone with skill is going to have to put it back straight.
Tough choicesStarliner
Nov 3, 2003 9:27 AM
It looks like an extensive fix - fender, door, A-pillar body structure damage - and an expensive one, too..... if you want to get it done right. And done right is the only way to go with this one, because that door is the most used moveable body part on any car. Done wrong, it will leak water and drive you crazy with wind noise; it will never open and shut right; you just won't be comfortable and secure.

What's done is done. Now's a good time to list out all your options from A to Z, from getting rid of the car and replacing it with another, to spending the money to get it fixed. Here's a suggested basic list of your options:

- Sell car as is, get another car.
- Get another car, part this one out.
- Donate car for tax credit, get another car.
- Keep car, do the minimal, 4x4 fix, just to get it useable.
- Keep car, get it professionally done right.

First thing to do before any decision is to get a decent body shop to get you a free estimate of just what how much $$ would be needed to fix it. Also, go to and find out the market value of your car if it was fixed up, as well as the estimated market value as is.

Call one of those outfits that accept vehicles, running or not, and start to find out what kind of tax credit amount you'd get.

You shouldn't have too much trouble selling it even as is; demand for that model is strong. Parting it out might get you a bit more money; but you'd need to store it and you'd need the skill and the time to take it apart.

Once you get all the info gathered up, you can then figure out the least painful, best fitting choice for you. Good luck.
Unethical, George Costanza idea...Snirp
Nov 3, 2003 3:18 PM
Like when he locked his keys in the car and waited for the auto club policy to kick in to get them out for free.

If you can live without the car for a while and haven't already reported it to the police or insurance...

1. Add the neeeded insurance - with a low/no deductible.
2. Report the accident a few weeks later as having just happened. Just make sure it hasn't rusted and still looks fresh.
3. Don't get caught.
Ooh...the f-word. Homey don't play dat.PseuZQ
Nov 3, 2003 4:40 PM
Believe me, I thought of it. Then it dawned on me that, oh, that would be "insurance fraud"...whoops!

You're right, George move. :-)