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Old 1st August 2020, 02:32   #1
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Default Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

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Hello everyone, this is Aroop (a fairly recent addition to Team-BHP). At the outset, I would like to thank the community for sharing their ‘Gyaan’ on the machines we love, it has truly been a delightful experience to read some of your experiences with cars. That said let me jump straight into my story with my pre-worshiped 8th Generation Honda Civic 1.8 v AT. I graduated from law school in 2017 and as a graduation gift from my parents (more like a negotiated position for not buying me a bike during my law school days) zeroed in on a brand new Honda City (petrol) to keep their end of the promise. However, like a lot of the 90s kids it was a dream of mine to set my foot and be a proud owner of an 8th generation Honda Civic (which honestly, in my opinion, is the only true ‘JDM’ which has ever set foot on our shores (I am consciously keeping the GTR out of this)).

Given the backdrop, the choice was clear, I had to listen to my heart and be an ‘Adarsh Balak’ (by not looting my parents of so much money), I set out my search for the one, 8th Generation stock (I like it that way) Honda Civic 1.8V manual, preferably in pearl white (historically all the cars in my family are white and I like it that way). Mumbai was a great place to search for a pre-worshiped Honda Civic and I did come across a lot of copies of the 8th Generation Honda Civic but a vast majority of them were plagued with steering hydraulics issues, suspension failure (I was willing to live with this as this was easy to fix), transmission issues, CNG kits (like what were they thinking) and mods executed in bad taste. My search for a good example of an 8th Generation Honda Civic lasted longer than expected or to my liking (you would be surprised to see how abused Honda Civics could be). After almost 6 months of this exercise, to look for a good example (yes I am very picky about the wheels that I drive), I finally came across a decent (that’s the best I could do in 6 months) example of a stock 8th generation Honda Civic 1.8 V AT and it was love after rigorous scrutiny. Before you point out I had to settle for an automatic because this was the best example of over 50-60 civics I had assessed.

After finally getting my [teen realistic] dream car in my garage, it was almost like a love affair between me and my car. The car was an absolute gem and a pleasure to drive, I would only drive it over the weekends as my office was only 200 mts from where I stay and I would usually cab my way around Mumbai (if at all to go for meetings etc.) as (a) parking could be a major headache in fort and BKC area; and (b) I consider myself too passionate to be driving a car in Mumbai’s traffic.

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These two years of Kate’s (I used to call her that) companionship was an absolute breeze, even though Kate was no exception to, among other things, steering hydraulic failure or suspension failure (which were very expensive to fix) which cropped up within 1.5 years of ownership, it was nevertheless a pleasure to drive. Actually, a perfect example to summarise my driving experience was a review of the 8th generation Civic by CNBC whereby the host had made a comparison of the 8th generation Honda Civic to the 2009-2013 Honda City and had stated as follows:

When you drive a Honda City at high speeds you get a sense of flying, but when you treat a civic in a similar manner, you’d get a sense of being grounded and planted to the road, but nonetheless both of them are very good experiences

Given my family owns a Honda City 2009-2013 (of course in white) and I had taken my driving lessons on it and probably would’ve clocked about 20k on the odo, I knew the exact difference in the high-speed experience both the cars offer (as rightly pointed by CNBC’s host). For all the readers who are contented with a Honda City’s, Hyundai Verna’s high-speed performance, you have to absolutely drive a Honda Civic. The 8th Generation Honda Civic actually shines at high 3-digit speeds, with the way it sticks to the ground and the confidence it inspires at such speeds. I mean I used to be quite happy with my Honda City’s high speed performance (actually I still am) but the Civic’s performance is some other thing, I mean apart from the high speed runs in my Honda City, I would consciously avoid pushing the City too much not because it is unstable at such speeds because somehow it doesn’t feel as planted as the Civic. All that said, I don’t endorse high speed driving and have made such runs on pre-researched stretches of the Mumbai-Pune expressway (which also happens to be the only decent road in the whole of Maharashtra).

In 2 years of my companionship with Kate, I gathered about 32,000 kms on the Odo which I am very proud of given I only used to drive it only during the weekends (I typically have 80-90 hour work week, I am a corporate lawyer), this 32,000 kms included trips (sometimes multiple) to most of the attractions of the Western Ghats and Aravalli Range, Daman, Telangana, Goa, Gujarat, Silvassa and Diu. Although the car was 9 years old, it never felt its age and my original plan was to keep using the car as a daily driver until the commissioning of the Mumbai- Delhi expressway in 2022, as I intended to drive the entire stretch on my Civic as a tribute to all the joy Kate brought to my life, following which I would have shipped the car off to Odisha (my home town) where I intended to preserve the car forever (that’s where I have preserved all my firsts and honestly 30-40 years down the lane I firmly believe the 8th Generation Civic will turn some heads).

Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)-3.jpg

All was hunky-dory until recently when I decided to fulfill my dream of driving from the west coast to the east coast of India (Mumbai-Bhubaneswar). So, me and two of my friends embarked on this mega drive across the country on May 16, 2020 (after having done my research on the route to be taken and after procuring all the permits to cross Chhattisgarh and enter Odisha). We halted the night at Nagpur and I slept in the car before restarting (didn’t want to take the risk of booking a hotel due to the ongoing pandemic). Next day morning i.e. May 17, 2020 at about 8:30 (we started from Nagpur at 3:30 IST) one of my friends asked if she could drive and insisted to do so as I had driven for the entire journey (I usually don’t let people drive my car). Before any of the readers post any hateful comments about women being terrible drivers, I would specifically like to put it out there that I genuinely don’t subscribe to this idea and I trusted my friend in this case because I had taught her how to drive that too in Kate and she had been occasionally driving Kate for the past 2 years and I was comfortable with her driving. After my friend took the wheel at about 9:30 - 11:00 IST, 60 kms from Raipur in Sankara Village in Chhattisgarh the car lost balance due to a jerky steering input at a reasonably high speed (I can only guess this could be the reason as the roads were very good and empty). After losing control the car crashed into the divider and flipped approximately four times (as stated by the bystanders), I think I felt it was three, before coming to a halt with the car upside down. The point of first impact (with the divider) was separated by about 150 meters where my car actually landed (up-side down). Fortunately, due to good luck, great build quality of a JDM and god’s grace all the occupants escaped with minor scratches (the ones we got while crawling out of the car). All three of us later travelled back to our homes with the help of the driver’s father (yes we were that close to the destination) where we got a detailed body check up done just to be sure. The car was later towed by Honda roadside assistance (yes I had this policy on a 9 year old car) to the nearest service centre i.e. GK Honda, Raipur.
Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)-4.jpeg

GK Honda assessed my car and prepared an estimate of Rs. 10,75,000 to fix the car as they made a recommendation to change all my body panels along with the usual airbags (replacing the airbags alone is Rs. 1,63,542) and radiator etc. Naturally, the insurance company wrote my car off as a total loss (I will elaborate on this in a separate post, I have genuinely learned a lot from this entire journey).

Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)-5.jpg

Given the backdrop and my intent to preserve the car for an eternity, I really wanted to get the car back to working, but, spending Rs.10.75 lakhs would be a financial suicide. Fortunately, I have got a second (and a substantially cheaper) shot at retrieving my car as a salvage car dealer has agreed to retrieve the car as he can source most of the spare parts from scrap yards across the country and basis his assessment he was also of the view that none of my car’s body panels were in that bad a shape that it required complete replacement, he said a mere denting and painting would do the job (please refer to the pictures and let me have your views on the same. So I have entered into a contract with him that he’d fix my car (for an amount not exceeding my insurance settlement) and if and only if I like it (I will also get a paid Honda assessment done prior to deciding and will specifically get the ABS unit, Airbag unit and the general balance related issues checked) will I take the car back. If I don’t retain the car the salvage dealer would procure my salvage car for Rs. 1,00,000 from me (of which he has already paid an advance amount of Rs. 75,000).

In light of the aforesaid I would like to seek your views on:

(a) Whether I should engage myself in this adventure or should I steer clear of this entire circumstance and stay happy with my insurance settlement? (if your answer no I would request you to kindly reason it out because clearly, I am not thinking from my brain here so a little reasoning could help a fellow Team BHPian).

(b) If anyone has had an experience of buying a salvage car or repairing a totalled car, please let me have your experience so I could fairly gauge what I may be signing up to – A lot of people who have zero depreciation insurance get their car fixed even though the car is totalled and it is a common practice in such circumstances, please let me know if you have faced any specific issues with such cars.

(c) What are the things I should specifically check while taking delivery of my car?

(d) I have always heard about the pre-judice people have against accidental cars (in the second-hand market), is it because of the superstitions or there’s a legit reason to it?

While answering the aforesaid questions (or any one), I request you to consider the same in the present facts and circumstances which is:

(a) I have an emotional connect with my car and I would love to have her back (remember how Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) totalled his McLaren F1 twice and still managed to sell the car for $12.2 million and how Elon Musk sold his almost totalled McLaren F1 for a profit, before you point it out no I wont monetize my car and yes to me it is a McLaren F1); and

(b) I am extremely critical about how my car drives, I tend to pick up the minutest of noises/issues and get the car fixed, it can be evidenced by the fact that I changed 4 shock absorbers, engine mounts, alternator, 4 tyres, ball bearings for all four wheels, steering pump, steering hydraulics pipes and the AC Compressor (both the units) all within the last 6 months (so may car did feel pretty new actually).
Thanking you in anticipation. Below are the pictures for your assessment.
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Last edited by Aditya : 1st August 2020 at 22:15. Reason: High-speed references edited. Thank you!
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Old 1st August 2020, 07:48   #2
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

God help us all. You can dent and paint that thing but its structural integrity will be gone. However well it is cosmetically patched up, it is going to drive like an accident damaged vehicle if you restore it. Take the total loss and find another old civic.
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Old 1st August 2020, 08:02   #3
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Let... It... Go...
Even if your mechanic gets it looking well, that car will never drive good. It will spend most of it's time in a garage with you fussing over it not riding well, or rattling or something. Not to mention that if it's ever in an accident again, the result will not be the same.
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Old 1st August 2020, 08:16   #4
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Quote:
Originally Posted by aroopdas93 View Post
GK Honda assessed my car and prepared an estimate of Rs. 10,75,000 to fix the car as they made a recommendation to change all my body panels along with the usual airbags (replacing the airbags alone is Rs. 1,63,542) and radiator etc. Naturally, the insurance company wrote my car off as a total loss (I will elaborate on this in a separate post, I have genuinely learned a lot from this entire journey).
Welcome to TBHP Aroop. And - really glad to see that all the occupants of the car came out uninjured & are doing fine. Sad to know about the accident of course. For a car that has flipped at high speed at least thrice - she still looks remarkably okay. Almost all items are properly in place except perhaps the ORVMs that would have been lost during the flips.That was a nicely maintained Civic you had.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hserus View Post
You can dent and paint that thing but its structural integrity will be gone. However well it is cosmetically patched up, it is going to drive like an accident damaged vehicle if you restore it. Take the total loss and find another old civic.
I'd go with hserus' advice here too. Don't try to restore the car. Let it rest in peace & let her donate some organs to other needy cars instead. The car can be visually fully recovered to old glory by skilled craftsmen at the bodyshops in all probabilities but the structural integrity is lost.
  1. Look at the A pillars & the arch from A pillars to the boot for example. They have deformed & the tubular metal parts have been punched in.
  2. Similar things would have happened in other structural components of the monocoque as well.
  3. These are indeed the components that ensured all of you survived without injury in the accident.
  4. God forbid if the car faces another such incident (its our roads afterall) - the structural strength will not be same as it was right now. These key parts might crumple where they aren't supposed to be, thus compromising the cabin shell's stability. Outcome in another accident may not be as happy like this one I'm afraid for the occupants. At least there will always be a doubt.
  5. The transmission, engine & drive-train in general also take a severe beating in such accidents and won't exactly drive like original no matter how much the mechanics try to restore with precision.
  6. And then - more than INR 1 Million + taxes on it doesn't seem justifiable mathematically for a decade old car now. I know your heart and emotions are deeply attached with the car. But logical thinking says you should move on. As a lawyer I'm sure you'll be able to don the logical hat sooner rather than later.

Recover fully from this emotional trauma, move on & perhaps get another nice ride to fall in love with. That's what I'd do.
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Old 1st August 2020, 08:39   #5
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Quote:
Originally Posted by aroopdas93 View Post
...my intent to preserve the car for an eternity...
So I have entered into a contract with him...
3 points come to mind:
1. Cheap repair = jugaad repair = not roadworthy for high speeds.
2. The government won't let you drive your car for an eternity. It's only 15 years. Scrap it now, and be paid for it by the insurance company. Have your cake and eat it too!
3. You have drawn up & signed a legal document with this salvage repairer, and expect him to honour it? Good luck.
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Old 1st August 2020, 08:48   #6
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Wow, what a tragic first post. Let me start by saying it is so very good to know that all of you came out safe from the accident.
Coming to the questions, in summary I would sadly advice you to let her go and avoid yourselves a heap of potential troubles in future for the reasons listed below in no particular order:

1. No matter how good the build quality was and how well you maintained it, the fact is this accident looks bad and probably took a heavier toll than what it looks from the surface. Also judging by the ASC quote, this was quite an accident. No matter how well you fix it, I believe it is very difficult to get her to the former glory and shape especially considering the car will be fixed by a dealer with scrap parts and not by a professional restoration guy or even the authorised SVC for that matter. As most of us say here, you get what you pay for, atleast in most cases.

2. I have had a brief experience with a local garage to repair a close friends accidental Tata Indica couple of years back at a fraction of the cost against what was quoted by the authorised SVC. The accident was not even close to as bad as yours (a HMV rammed in both the door panels of parked car at high speeds). The Tata SVC quoted approximately INR 1+ lakhs to replace both doors, correct/repair the chassis and change the broken glass windows all around. Without going into too much details, after some deliberation we decided not to go through the insurance route and get it fixed at a local garage since this was an old car, the insurance IDV was barely sufficient and obviously it wasn't a zero dep insurance which meant a good liability for the owner. We came across a local garage specialising in accidental repairs and he quoted a reasonable sum of approximately INR 25k IIRC to get everything done and we went for it without much thought. Sufficient to say it was a shoddy repair job of denting painting, the doors wouldn't close well, rattles were permanent, the chassis appeared to be misaligned and did not inspire any confidence whatsoever. Only thing which looked decent were the glass replacement. The garage helped correct these issues to some extent but again those felt like temporary jugaads and issues kept creeping up every next month. The car was let go shortly after that at a throwaway price. Again, nothing against the car dealer you have in mind but just pointing out that probably such repairs cannot be carried out on a short budget with both parties keeping their own economical benefit in mind. The end result may not be what you expected after going through numerous hassles.

3. Like you said, time is not something which you have as a luxury being a corporate lawyer and this may involve significant time and energy to get it fixed to your satisfaction especially considering your critical OCD toward the car.

4. These are difficult covid-19 times and everybody is looking for a quick buck or atleast continue to keep their shops running in whatever way possible. Getting things done during these days is all the more difficult and time consuming especially considering the dealer will procure scrap parts from all over.

5. There's also a high risk of your perfectly working original parts being replaced in the process and you get a sub-optimal replacement part in the bargain which may be good for some time but then will call for action. I've had my perfectly working bike carbeurator replaced by a local garage in a day when the bike went for a quick fix on some body work. Could realise this only when I took it to the official SVC after a couple of months to get a newly cropped up issue fixed. No points for guessing, the carbeurator was the new issue and had to be bought fresh.

6. I'm guessing it's a local dealer and you don't know them, their reputation or their service quality. Ask around or ask here if any members had experience with the dealer; and if you do get some red flags, steer clear away.

I can imagine the pain of letting go a loved car/bike as I've recently let go off my increasingly difficult to manage ageing 1st gen Maruti Zen due to various issues. I would rather suggest you to take the insurance settlement and hunt for another well maintained used civic and possibly get to the closest feeling that you had with your Kate. Good luck with whatever you decide and welcome to Team BHP
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Old 1st August 2020, 09:11   #7
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Glad to hear that you and your friends are safe !

As far as your civic is concerned, it can be repaired, few body panels, bumper and glass would need to be replaced, maybe with some internal parts too.

However the damage is quite bad and will not drive like a new car once repaired I would suggest letting it go and getting another car.
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Old 1st August 2020, 09:17   #8
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Walk away, I repeat, walk away!

Be emotional about your car experience but do not be emotional about cars. Your car is not safe, the A and B pillars will be distorted from the roll, the chassis main beams will be distorted from the high speed impact with the divider. If you must, get the car on the jig to assess this, there is normally a tolerance level of distortion beyond which any pulling machine cannot help.

The disappointment that you will experience when the juggad repairs have completed as well as the irritants like leaky windscreens, doors that do not shut properly, car pulling, will totally turnaround your emotions.
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Old 1st August 2020, 10:06   #9
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

I've owned the Honda Civic for 13 years. Driven it for almost 2,50,000 Kms. And even with the excitement of getting a brand new car, it was still extremely hard to let go. So I understand your predicament.

But it's time to say goodbye. It'll never be the same. It'll never drive that well. Nor bring that old smile on your face again as you step on the pedal. So it's better to let go, and remember it for the perfect memories.

It's time to move on to another set of wheels. And if you're really hell bent, there are plenty of well maintained 8th gen Civics available for sale.

Last edited by coolkurt : 1st August 2020 at 10:07.
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Old 1st August 2020, 10:53   #10
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Thank lord, glad that you all escaped unscathed, part of the credit goes to the build quality of the car as well.

From the pictures the pillars and apron seem to be intact, and it does tell us about the strong build quality. If the pillars and apron are left untouched, the rest of the car can be resurrected into a very good condition, provided the mechanic is competent. And it is much easier to pass this into the used car market as a non-accidental car and will also earn a good price for it.

However, as others said, the risk of retaining the may not be worth it, if the internal structure is compromised due to the accident.
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Old 1st August 2020, 11:06   #11
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

If you really want to look at it sentimentally, consider your life the last gift from Kate, and let her rest in peace.

Part of living life to the fullest, is also knowing when to let go.
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Old 1st August 2020, 12:57   #12
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Thank God you and your friends are safe and that too at these difficult times!

Really felt sorry for your car! Emotions do get attached with our rides and at times becomes difficult to take a well balanced judgment.

Easier said than done, I would let go of the car and take whatever money I can get out it.
If it is not just related to this specific car, I would search for another good example in the pre-worshiped market and use the money I fetched from the sale of previous one. That ways, in my head, the legacy will continue.

Other than that, I would suggest looking at more modern options. I know nothing comes close to being in the previous generation Civic, yet, I am pretty sure there are good cars out there in the market waiting to be unleashed!

All the best!
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Old 1st August 2020, 13:15   #13
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Take this as an opportunity and upgrade to a better car. Neighborhood garage will never be able to match factory level benchmarks and there would be some issue cropping up every now and then. As a memory take some part of kate with you like I have number plates and odo meter of my rx100 which is now sold.
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Old 1st August 2020, 13:18   #14
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Kate has served you well. I'm glad that all the occupants got out with minor scratches after such a major accident.

Better to let go and live a life free of worries + annoyances. You can find other used Civics or different enthusiast cars.
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Old 1st August 2020, 13:28   #15
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Default re: Resurrecting a loved one: My salvage '11 Honda Civic (rollover crash)

Firstly, extremely glad to know you all escaped unhurt, thanks to your wonderful car. I too go by the opinion that it's best to let her rest in peace. Kate entered your life and fulfilled her duty to the fullest. The damage sure seems to be something that will always be pronounced how much ever effort is put to fix it, especially with its structural integrity compromised. I know it hurts a lot, but I wish you find a new, wonderful steed soon.
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