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Used Cars/Buying a car and trading in



I am trying to figure out the best course of action for my husband and I to get rid of my current car to get a larger car as baby #3 will be here in a month and a half.

I have my heart set on a 2012 Dodge Durango, preferably a higher model with Nav and dvd screens for the kids. We would prefer as low of miles as possible and to stay around my current car payment of $345/month.

I currently have a 2012 Acura TSX with just under 50,000 miles. It is an awesome car and I am technically ahead on it, except I currently got hail damage on it and am not sure of the best route to tackle that. I haven't claimed the hail yet and I've heard contradicting advice on whether to claim it or not and whether to keep the money or fix it if we do claim it. I believe it is around 5,000 of damage, but they are all minimal and can be fixed with paintless dent repair.

I am willing to travel a ways away to get the car I want, but not sure how to negotiate a deal online or what to do about my current car.


ANSWER: Hi Marisa thanks for the question I'm traveling between Eugene and Portland at the moment however if you could answer a couple questions for me it will make it easier to respond to your question.

What is the payoff on your car?
Which insurance company has your auto policy?
How long ago did the hail damage occur?
Have you actually had an estimate done on the damage by a body shop?

No matter what I think you need to file the claim for the damage but let me get it back to you with my specific that soon as I land somewhere in front of a computer later today

The car guy

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QUESTION: Payoff: approximately 13,000. I don't have the exact right now, but it is about that or in the 12,000 range. I pay 345 a month and have a 1.99% interest rate.

Insurance company: State Farm

Hail Damage: we had 2 storms with bad hail within the last 2-3 months and noticed it after both because it isn't super noticeable as most is on the roof.

Estimate: I did have it looked at by a paintless dent repair place and I can't remember the exact but it was between 4000 and 6000 worth of damage.

If we claim the hail, would it be more beneficial to fix it,  get the money and put towards loan to lower the amount, or keep it as a down payment towards a new car?

I forgot we are also open to leasing a new car if I can stay in my approximate payment range. I have been attempting to sell my car outright to a private party as well to just get it gone, but haven't had luck so far. If we buy, we would want to try to go through the same local credit union for the new loan so I can still have a low interest percentage as well.

Durango MMR 1
Durango MMR 1  

Acura TSX
Acura TSX  
OK here is the plan:

You definitely need to immediately file the claim with your insurance co. Go find the highest estimate you can find from the best body shop in town and submit it with your claim. Your insurance company will try to steer you to one of their preferred shops but you don't have to go their or use them because they do an inferior job and use used and/or aftermarket parts ... you won't be doing the work but you need to be fairly compensated for your loss including the diminished value your car would have if and after it was fixed because people like me can spot paint work on a car from 100 yds. away. Cars with accident reports or insurance claims over $500.00 get reported to CarFax and Autocheck in most states that would show up when you traded it in which would diminish its value.

Then since it is more likely than not that every single body and paint shop in town is backed up for months with other people's hail damaged cars take the money and buy yourself dinner and then pay down your car. I think if you get the right bid from the right body shop that you can pick up another couple of 1,000 due to the loss of the cars intrinsic value due to the paint and body work being contemplated. Hope that makes sense. By not waiting for the body work to be completed you also don't have to wait to buy your Durango. I have attached some images of the Durango's current auction value...add $500.00 to each of those numbers to account for the  auction buy fees and arbitration fees. These prices are from the Manheim Market Report which reports what those cars have sold for at auction in the last 60 days and represent the cars most reliable value index. I ran one for your Acura just for fun.

The plan here is to get the $, pay down the loan, then post it up on Craigslist and start looking for your next car so that when it sells you will be ready to go. The assumption underlying all of this is that your car won't be declared a total loss. Should be a safe assumption. We need for the title to remain clean.

You don't want to trade in this vehicle because you will get your head handed to you on it and the idea is to hand the seller his head instead. Selling it yourself; even damaged will make you an extra 1-3,000  over what they will ACV (actual cash value) your car for ... not what they show that they are giving you but what they have valued your car at on their back screen.

Questions? I am with you for the full ride if you need me.

The Car Guy  

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Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE AT


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Experts360, Atheneum Partners, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

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