Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lately?

ANYTHING FROM BUFFING YOUR PAINT TO REPLACING A DASH PANEL

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Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lately?

Post by 6spd_monte » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:06 am

It happened a month ago Tuesday. I just didn't want to discuss it until things had settled down and some of the decisions had been made.

As I was leaving school on the evening of 15 Feb, I was in a lovely mood and looking forward to driving home and getting to sleep. Another student coming out of the parking lot "never saw me" and, as he turned left onto the main street, drove right into the side of my van.

I am quite attached to this van. My parents bought it new, I remember the day they brought it home 24 years ago. It's worn and tired, but it's full of memories. Where most people see just another old car, to me it's much more than that. So, to say I was upset would be an understatement. The following day I was so distraught I almost couldn't even eat anything. I think some people in this group will understand where I'm coming from. I know some people will think I'm nuts, that's ok too.

To make a long story short, since both vehicles were drivable, we exchanged insurance info and both went home. His insurance company agreed that he was 100% at fault, and then they declared my van a total loss. I've decided to keep it and repair the damage. They're sending me a check for the "fair market value", less the "retained salvage value".

For those that don't know, I work for a new car dealer. We have an off-site body shop that we work with. They do very good work and I know the manager. I had him look at the damage and he gave it a guesstimate (meaning he looked it over and made an educated guess) of $4500 to repair. He also gave me a card for a shop that he knows has better prices and does good work as well.

So I went to the second shop. The owner looked at the van and said "You know this will cost more to repair than this vehicle is worth, right?" I replied "Yes, but it's been in the family a long time and it means a lot to us." He held up his hand and said "No problem, I understand. I can fix this."
His estimate (a very throughly written and researched estimate) came to around $3000.

I'll give you a rundown of the damage:
He hit me on the left side just behind the b-pillar. The body side is caved in about 6 inches at the rocker panel, the b-pillar looks ok but it must be either twisted or pushed in because the driver's door sticks now, the interior trim panels are bulging inward a bit and the floor is wrinkled behind the b-pillar. The frame rails in the body do not appear to be damaged and it drives straight just like before. All the other doors open and close just like before. Both bench seats lock into the floor like they did before, so that tells me that the floor hasn't moved that much. The fuel door is crunched and now takes two people to open, and the filler neck was pushed closer to the tank. The rubber hose between the filler and the tank absorbed that movement, so the hose (which is not original, but still about 10 years old) is not looking very good. But, it's not leaking any gas.

With the insurance money, some cash that I had been saving (for other projects) and what my family has volunteered to contribute, we should have no problem getting the Astro fixed up again.
I'm feeling much better about the whole situation. Obviously it's not a fun experience, and having a salvage title is something I didn't want. However, the van has needed new paint for a long time and I had been putting it off for years. This just means that I will finally get that done. We're going to change the color, put on a side graphic from a newer van, get some new lenses for the front and rear lights, restore the grille and headlight trim, maybe do some kind of bedliner or something similar on the bumpers.
When it's done, it'll look better than new.

Also, this has shown me that I need to get some real collector car insurance for the Chevelle and the Monte Carlo. Both are insured with my regular insurance co, and if something happened to them they'd both be totaled for sure and I'd get next to nothing for them. I have already gotten some quotes to take care of that.

Since I know how much we all love pictures.... I have some coming up in the next post.
Stay tuned!
-James

1987 LT
249,000 miles

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by 6spd_monte » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:36 am

Ok, my uncle is quite a good photographer, but still these pictures do not fully capture the visual impact of the damage.

The door is fully closed, so you can see how far the quarter panel has moved.
Image

In the next two you will notice that the panel has started to separate from the b-pillar at the lower edge, and note the hole torn in the body ahead of the rear wheel.
Image

Image

Image

The wrinkle in the floor can be seen clearly even with the carpet in place.
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And even more clearly with the carpet removed!
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These two show the inside of the damaged area with all the interior panels removed. It's hard to see, but the whole side is bulged in.
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Image

This is what it looks like underneath. Just to the left of the leaf spring you see two steel braces, the rear one is straight and the front one is bent.
Those are the braces for the front spring mount. Where the front brace is bent, thats where the hole in the outer skin was torn open.
Image

This is a picture of the rubber hose between the filler neck and the tank. As you can see, it's all twisted and cracked and generally unhappy.
Image

Anyway, that's how she sits right now. I'll post pictures as the repair progresses.
-James

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by blk lt awd » Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:37 am

shitty deal my friend. its so much worse when you have an emotional attachment to the vehicle. not many people can understand that. past few years i've thought about it happening with my van...knock on wood it never does. i don't know what i'd do. lots of happy times me and my van.

aside from everything else, health is most important and glad you came out of it in one piece and that you'll have her back on the road soon. :cheers:
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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by loopie » Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:57 am

Ouch and best of luck/wishes on the fix 6spd...not gonna be easy to get that all 100% straight again I imagine.
$3G including full paint?

What's with the front spring mount there? Never seen that before. A factory mount/upgrade from fibre leaf to steel????

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by timelessbeing » Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:24 am

Image It's a damn shame. It was in such good shape for its age. It is very disheartening after you pour blood and sweat into a vehicle with so many memories, know every square inch of it like the back of your hand. Some people will never know that joy.

I'm surprised that one body shop owner actually sent you away to a different shop.

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by astrozam » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:35 pm

1st off, glad you didn't get hurt James, 2nd yea it does suck! 3rd we love pics... even of carnage! :muhaha: but we know in this case we shall soon see pics of the van all fixed up as well :supz:

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by 6spd_monte » Sat Mar 19, 2011 5:34 pm

loopie wrote:Ouch and best of luck/wishes on the fix 6spd...not gonna be easy to get that all 100% straight again I imagine.
$3G including full paint?
What's with the front spring mount there? Never seen that before. A factory mount/upgrade from fibre leaf to steel????
He made it clear that the $3G estimate was only to repair and paint the damaged area. He said if I wanted to paint the whole van he'd work with me on the price. I'm hoping to offset some of the additional cost of the full repaint and color change by doing most of the teardown and maybe some of the prep work myself.

The springs are an aftermarket retrofit. They allow you to install steel springs in your fiber spring hangers.

It's from this place:
http://www.sdtrucksprings.com/index.php ... ts_id=7682
Keep in mind when you see the price that the springs are sold individually. So you'll need to buy two springs and one installation kit. The install is really easy, I did the first side in a little under an hour. The second side, once I had it all figured out, less than 20 minutes.
timelessbeing wrote: I'm surprised that one body shop owner actually sent you away to a different shop.
He didn't exactly send me away, he just offered me another option. He did say that if I wanted him to do the job he would, but he knows the guys at this other shop and he knew they would give me a better price than he could. I felt that this was an honest answer since I know this guy pretty well. Also, if the manager at the first shop says that the second shop does good work, again because I know him I feel that that's a pretty good endorsement.
-James

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by crash » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:57 am

man, that sucks. can't believe how clean it is under there. it's cleaner than a 1yr old vehicle in canuck land for sure. have i mentioned i HATE salt on the roads?
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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by 6spd_monte » Tue May 24, 2011 4:44 am

This past Saturday we took the van to the body shop. I had spent the last several weeks working to get it ready. I stripped most of the interior and almost all of the exterior. I also decided not to reuse the emblems on the front doors so I welded up those holes.

Here's some pictures, enjoy!

I used a magnet to hold a piece of copper behind the hole in the door. This makes it easier to weld up the hole, and the weld metal won't stick to the copper so you just use it over and over again.
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Before welding.
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During welding.
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After welding.
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After grinding & sanding.
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Off to the body shop!
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Image


The manager at the shop seems pretty cool. I asked if he would mind if I came buy from time to time to see the progress. He said it was no problem and reminded me to be sure to bring my camera! So, I'll have more pictures for you guys soon I hope.
-James

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by T.Low » Tue May 24, 2011 4:44 pm

Glad you're ok.

People just don't pay attention to the task at hand while driving anymore.

I can't believe how many people I saw texting on the freeway while driving home from Seattle the other day. Sheesh. My dad taught me to drive when I was 11 yrs old and continued to teach me until I was 16. He said driving was like any other sport. You pay attention what you're doing and you know what everyone else is doing. In certain more demanding situations, the radio gets turned off and you put on the driving gloves (figuratively speaking) and deal with the traffic (Metro Detroit area).

Thats why even though my enduro is license plated, i'm really leery of street riding.

Good luck with the van.
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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by 6spd_monte » Thu May 26, 2011 4:44 am

I went by the body shop to check in today. They had informed me that the panels they need are all discontinued but they were able to find used replacements. He invited me to come over and see what they get when they order a used quarter from their supplier. It turns out that what they get is about a quarter of a whole van! It was a chunk sectioned from just ahead of the b-pillar all the way back and it included about a foot and a half of the roof. Interior panels, glass, floor everything.
So I went to see the used parts when they showed up. It's good thing I did because I promptly pointed out that their supplier had sent them the wrong part. My van is a shorty and what they had was a big piece of an EXT van.

I know they would have figured it out eventually and I'm sure it wouldn't have cost me anything since it certainly wasn't any fault of mine, but I bet that by finding the error now it probably spared them some time in labor. Imagine their frustration had they spent the time to cut out the parts they need from this chunk only to find out it's wrong!

Hooray for being involved! :bounce:
-James

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by astroturf » Thu May 26, 2011 10:43 pm

Oh Heck, They coulda made that work.

A lil nip and tuck, and all woulda been fine.

Just Kidding. Thanks for the update.

Jim

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by 6spd_monte » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:30 am

The correct donor section arrived today and I got some pictures for you all to enjoy. They're from my phone and they're not the greatest, but you get the idea.

Image

Image
-James

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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by rastafari03 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:20 pm

Call me crazy, but thankfully nobody was hurt and aside for the money. What a great story!! Look at the lengths you are going to to save her... Its a classic underdog story, you'll be telling the tale for years to come with pic's to prove it. I can't wait to see how your van turns out. Best wishes.

Oh yeah, mine got side swiped two weeks ago right out in front of my house. Left side, front fender, mirror, door, fuel door and about a foot past. Not as bad as yours, but none the less. Especially after all the work we've done on them. No note, but I caught the new neighbors three doors up on the opposite side of the street. The gal is Korean and only in the country three days. At a BBQ last weekend she confessed that she had been drinking. I forgave... but assured her that I'd turn her ass in if it happened again due to all the kid's, dogs and people out in the streets in our neighborhood. I actually made out pretty good though, a buddy wrote up an estimate in a high end shop $3847.00 insurance co countered at $3587.00 + rental. I kicked my buddy down $200.00, paid 109.00 for rental insurance, did some of the work, bought the mirror $40.00 and had another shop finish up for $780.00. Looks good and made a profit of $2458.00. The down side is that I no longer have factory paint, but have a new Inno awning coming and will probably start fiddling with a front bumper. All works out in the end. ; ) Good luck with your Van.

T-Low right, their are some jackasses out there. Beware!!
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Re: Is it just me, or is this happening to a lot of vans lat

Post by 6spd_monte » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:19 am

rastafari03, It's great that you made out so well with your incident. Due to the age of my van, the insurance was less helpful. Anyway, the body shop started cutting today so I have another visual update. It's the same picture with and without flash because I couldn't decide which one was the better image. Note the complete and total absence of any rust in the lower sections. Not bad for 24 years, right? That makes me happy. There is still some debate about wether or not they will need to replace the inner structure panel of it they can straighten the original one. They'll know more in the next day or so.

Image

Image
-James

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