Piston Slap: Is a Modern Classic's Hail Damage a Death Sentence?

piston slap is a modern classics hail damage a death sentence

Luis writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I live in Texas where we’ve had terrible rain and hail storms. My daily driver is a 2004 Acura RSX Type-S with 111,000 miles on the clock. I purchased it second hand last year after driving my last car for ten years. A ’99 Civic coupe (178k miles, which I still own but leave parked). Anyway, the Acura incurred at least $7,000 in hail damage, mostly on the roof, hood and trunk, and minor damage on the sides. My question is: should I keep it? It runs great and has never been modded or in an accident. The insurance will pay off the balance of my loan (about $6,200) and make it even-Steven, or they will pay around $6,000 (which is the value minus the assumed auction price of $1,100) to the bank and I will have to pay the $1,100 balance and be able to keep it. Either way, it will make it a “total loss”. The adjuster said it will not be branded on the title as salvage but will be deemed a total loss that will show up on a Carfax. Making full coverage is not an option.

So I’m screwed either way it seems. Should I keep it? The car is all original, after all. Should I pay it off? Get a new car? Ride it out for a couple of years? Or all of these things? Selling it makes no sense. I have two reliable cars — should I really add a third?

Sajeev answers:

Yup, pretty much screwed either way! Yet you enjoy keeping cars for a long time, since you haven’t sold that Civic yet. And perhaps your Honda love mirrors that of my penchance for Lincoln-Mercury products.

A bad Carfax isn’t terrible on a 12-year-old car, especially with photos explaining why that happened. At this point, what buyer is is gonna hammer you for non-structural hail damage? I’d take the insurance company’s $6,000, research your local collision centers, and shop locally and online for a new hood and hatch.

Perhaps you can fix it cheaper — getting the parts yourself, especially if someone’s parting one out/selling stock parts from a project car locally. Poke around the forums and Craigslist!

I’d keep the RSX because the Type-S is the last great hot hatch from Acura, perhaps the last of the era. Honda quality and engineering even appealed to yours truly back then. I reckon selling your Civic is a quick and easy way to make a big dent (sorry) in the RSX’s hail damage repair.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Acura]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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3 of 54 comments
  • Stumpaster Stumpaster on Sep 14, 2016

    With that amount of deep dimples as shown in the photo you can't really say that the damage is nonstructural. That concave roof is not going to act in the same as a roof with gentle upward curve to it. It will probably sound different at speed too. Even after all the bondo.

  • Jmiller417 Jmiller417 on Sep 14, 2016

    I'm guessing $1k or $2k of paintless dent removal work would do wonders.

    • Higheriq Higheriq on Sep 27, 2016

      Agreed - I've seen the PDR folks work miracles on cars damaged much worse than the one pictured. They could provide a "per panel" rate rather than an individual dent rate.

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