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The value is a good amount. Brake and light inspection certificates were $100 total, cheapest I found down in socal. It requires brakes, headlights, signal, fr/rear brakes more than minimum (includes rotors/drum), good tires. Think old school smog headache:grin: I have the manual for testing. Some will fail for aftermarket fog if alignment is off. Others just care if head, tail and signals work for light test. (If anyone knows a cheaper in socal let me know I have one that needs it) I had worse damage done, same areas and it totaled almost $150 in parts no paint. No way you will find a OEM bumper, tow ruins then or its front end damage. You want all mounting areas undamaged. Time took about an hour once I checked fit/lines and bolt alignment.

If you get an aftermarket fender paint ASAP or leave damaged till ready to paint. Aftermarket is ready to paint primer no real protection from elements.

Here's my list.

(Bumper, fender, signal headlight, piezo, washer res., wheel well shroud, Grill, piezo wire (signal wire was still attached by one) bumper/fender support clip and bracket, fender mold trim. Also ziplock of random length 10mm screws, with and without washers.
 

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Discussion Starter #82
$100 for Brake and Light Check is fine with me. The key is whether we can get free re-check. I am concerned about their incentives.
 

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$100 for Brake and Light Check is fine with me. The key is whether we can get free re-check. I am concerned about their incentives.
Make sure it's a certified "Official Brake and Lamp adjusting station" there is a sign posted, and not just a "brake inspection check". Not every mechanic shop is an "adjusting station". Its two different certificates one for lights the other brakes.
 

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Discussion Starter #84
Yes. It is a legit one

I guess I am more than fine with $100 fee. In fact it is $78 each, $156 for both brake and light check. The owner gave me 15% off easily. So $132 in the end. Everything is more expensive in the SF Bay Area. If anyone can recommend a cheaper and good place, I am all ears.


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I was away on vacation and didn't get a chance to reply... I was surprised that the insurance adjuster wasn't willing to give you the lower amount and let you keep the clean title. It would technically have been more financially beneficial for the insurance company. Must be some laws or paperwork or something that they didn't feel like bending. Your case was very interesting to follow, so thanks for the updates :)

The reason I was arguing the clean title route so strongly is because, like you said, it can be a pain to deal with the DMV to get the salvage title replaced with a rebuilt title. It was a process I personally would have done everything to avoid. But, seeing that you have AAA to take care of it for you, that doesn't seem like too much of a hassle.

Glad you were able to get the car back along with a decent chunk of cash.

Would be curious to see the total cost it took for you to repair the car... I'm assuming you passed the brake and light check with flying colors?
 

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Discussion Starter #86 (Edited)
The most likely cause, to me, is that the adjuster did not care about such small amount of money. He followed his steps and did his work. To make my life easier, he would have to go back and change a sequence of numbers. More hassle and no benefit to him. USAA is a huge company, the higher-ups never care about saving a few bucks here and there. If cost is a concern, they just jack up the insurance premium a bit. I could of course decline their offer and keep arguing with them. But I had too many other things to deal with.

Cali DMV is a huge mess and AAA does not solve the problem. When I signed up for AAA, I was told AAA office can handle ANYTHING DMV does. But when I called to make an appointment, they gave me a very long list that AAA does not do. Salesmanship (or saleswomanship), you know? I kept the membership anyway b/c I need it.

The total cost is pretty clear now. With lower control arm, all the small parts is $260. When I installed the corner lights, I discovered that the left fender is also bent slightly so the corner light is installed funny. So I shall try to get another fender for about $40. Total parts cost would be $300. The brake and light check is a killer. I signed up for $132 and I could not leave without forking over $500. Yeah, $500. They pulled all the tricks they could to deny me the certificates. And no free re-check, which means if I turned their list of repairs down, I would be $264 back with nothing. So I just paid $500. What they did included a brake fluid change, replacing a brake hose and polishing the headlight lens and aiming it. These won't cost a DIY'er more than $50. But I can assign $168 to it. So in the end, I was literally robbed 200 bucks by the shady shop, but what other choices did I have? I did not pass the checks with flying colors. Instead, I passed it with flying dollars.

Thank for dealing this with me and keeping up the advice. I shall update with more info when it is available.
 

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Amazing they gave you that much! Really shows you how much they value these old toyotas :) I paid $400 for my 2000 Camry LE (5SFE) with 194k this July. She's now past 200k and just drove her from New York to Atlanta for flight instructor school. She did great! Lacks a little power going up those mountains in West Virginia though haha, loves to kick down lol. Did some nice dirt road driving too. Changed my trans and diff fluid before i went, amongst many other things, (brakes, oil, spark plugs/wires. ETC)

Love how reliable these old toyotas are :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #88
It is unbelievable to get a nice running Camry for $400. Anything that runs and passes smog here in CA is 2k plus. A great deal you got.


I am always thinking about one day driving my Camry to Pikes Peak or even to Alaska. It would be fun if 30 old timers driving a team of 300k+ Camry from FL to AK. Maybe even can get some sponsorship.
 

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Discussion Starter #89

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Discussion Starter #90
Here is my old friend on my drive way ready for more adventure.



The the only thing left is DMV stuff now.


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how did you repair the windshield washer fluid tank?

Tanks (any tanks) are the items my local PnP drill holes into so I don't have a way to source them unless I go aftermarket (in which case shipping kills it because of their large volume of the tank)
 

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Discussion Starter #92
My local PnP don’t drill holes, man! I tested it out before I paid for it. Wondering why yours would. I removed the pump and sensor from the old tank. It seems that I can reuse the pump if I dremel out a failed one. Re-use the sensor is kinda hard.


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Curious if you are planning on painting the fender or leaving it as is? Since it's already painted, you technically don't *need* to paint it since it won't rust...

Great repair job!
 

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Discussion Starter #94
Curious if you are planning on painting the fender or leaving it as is? Since it's already painted, you technically don't *need* to paint it since it won't rust...

Great repair job!

Thanks a lot for you guys' help along the way! Can't get it done without TN members' help. To paint or not to paint is my biggest headache right now. A good paint can easily eat up all the extra cash from the insurance payment. A cheap paint I am not sure how long it will last. If any TN member operates a bodyshop in the bay area and can offer me a TN special for a decent paint, I am all ears.


However, since there are so many other issues need to be taken care of, I decided to give it a low priority. I need to first do the ATF and PS fluid change. Then TB change. After that I need to replace front and rear end links and bushings. Then I need to replace all four struts. My Camry has literally become a running project by now. If it is not my first car and I have been taken care of it all the time, I probably would choose to sell it.


Body-wise, my driver side fender was damaged too. It was not obvious initially, but after I put the corner light on, the fitment is much worse than the passenger side with the transplanted gold fender. Before I pay to paint, I definitely need another fender from JY to replace it. (It is an aftermarket one due to previous accidents. So I won't really miss it.) I also need to take it to have some paintless dent removal before repaint. Lots of work.
 

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Definitely get the mechanical stuff done first. Personally, I wouldn't care too much about the paint. It doesn't affect the operation/reliability of the car and I have a lot of other expenses in my life that take priority. I'm curious, did you buy the Camry new?

I'm thinking about some of the same maintenance you are. Have you ever changed the timing belt before? I wonder how long the timing belts on these cars last. On my black one, the previous owner told me he changed it around 100K in about 2012. I know Hondas recommend a timing belt change every 7 years simply due to age since they are interference engines, but from what I've seen, timing belts last a lot longer than that.

On my silver one, since it's such low mileage, I didn't change it for the first time until last summer (2017) at 81K. I was going to push it to 90K but we were taking a road trip and I didn't feel like it was worth the risk. I regret forgetting to ask my mechanic what the condition of the 16 year old belt was.

My black one could use some new struts at 141K now, but they're not too bad yet so I keep pushing it off.
 

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Also, how often do you change the transmission fluid and PS fluid?

On my black one, I changed the transmission fluid for the first time at 139K and the PS fluid for the first time at 140K. I don't think the previous owner ever touched them. Way overdue! I didn't have any issues with the transmission though, so hopefully waiting that long didn't cause any damage. The fluid was darkish but was still clearly brown and not black.

On my silver one, I changed the transmission fluid once at 50K and was planning on doing it again at 100K. PS fluid has never been touched, maybe I should change it...
 

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Discussion Starter #97
Since PS, ATF and Differential fluid are all the same, I change all of them together every 30k. Just get 3 jugs of Valvoline max life from Walmart and you are all set. TB change is very arbitrary. I had one done 12 years/70k miles ago. So I will do it soon recently when I have some free time. It is not hard. Much easier than getting alignment stuff done b/c it does not require special shop-only equipment. Some TN members won't bother to change TB ever after 18/19 years and their cars still run fine. So as long as one doesn't get stranded somewhere, any interval seems fine. Our struts definitely can use some replacement. But struts plus alignment are expensive. I plan to wait a while before working on suspension again. If one of the axles fails, it will be a very natural chance to replace struts so that I can save some money on alignment. I bought my car new 17+ years ago.
 
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My local PnP don’t drill holes, man! I tested it out before I paid for it. Wondering why yours would. I removed the pump and sensor from the old tank. It seems that I can reuse the pump if I dremel out a failed one. Re-use the sensor is kinda hard.


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Must be fluid recycling eg oil, ps fluid, battery, brake. Just lazy to drain from hose.
 

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Finally I am able to update this thread again.

1. In the mail from the other driver's insurance company, it is said that I need to re-register the salvage title in the next 10 days. Otherwise, bad things will happen to me. It turned out that this is totally BS. I visited DMV twice and spent 6 hours there immediately after I got the brake and light inspection done. Both time, I was told that DMV had not received documents from the insurance company and they could not help me in anyway.

2. Then I kept calling DMV in the next two months, i.e., September and October of 2018. Nothing. Until one representative told me just forget about it and keep driving. So I did. Nothing happened and I thought maybe I could keep my clean title.

3. Fast forward to June 2019. I received the usual biannual smog letter from mail. This time, I am not allowed to renew registration online. I had to mail in the registration form. See details here.


4. I passed the smog test and mailed in the letter promptly. However, it took forever for my new registration card and sticker to come back in mail. Nothing happend even after DMV cashed my check. My current registration expires on 9/2/2019. I really cannot wait. So I called DMV and finally they mentioned that the registration renew is delayed b/c of the accident and I need to get a salvage title.

5. So I visit the local DMV promptly. It turned out the following documents are required for paper work. Title, current registration card, certificates for brake and light inspections, DMV form REG343, DMV form REG 488C. Once I submitted all paper works, I received some additional paperwork and all of the papers stapled together and handed back to me.

6. Next I need to move my car to the driver license road test area. There are three lanes here. The right lane is for drive test. The middle lane is for personal title like salvage car retention or transfer title from other states to California. The left lane is for commercial vehicles.

7. After a long wait, an inspector showed up. He simply wrote down current mileage and asked me to open the hood. He spent some time on inside of the hood, probably checking emission related stickers there. Then he spent a bit of time near the trunk of the car. Then it is all over.

8. Next I am told to remove my current license plates and go back to see the lady who prepared my paper work. I did not want to give up all of my old plates. So I only removed the front one, which was damaged several times and kept the rear plate. There, I handed in $96 to turn my clean title to a salvage title. Seem really unfair. What do they have to do for the $96? It turned out that they really don't care about the plates. I could have kept both and it would be fine. Anyway, my old license number 4U*** became 8K***. Really sad. It felt like something precious was taken away from me.

To wrap up, I got $4300 from insurance, paid $2400 for everything. The $2400 includes about $650 for all new KYB strut assemblies and Moog end links, $150 for one Timken rear wheel bearing and one Beck/Arnley rear wheel bearing, and $100 for Whiteline RSB. So these $900 can be considered upgrades. Among the remaining $1500, more than $500 was spent on State inspection certificates for brake and lights. Those inspection shops are true blood suckers. $96 for salvage title. So money really spent on buying the car back and fixing up the car is only about $900.

With retrospect, the optimal strategy to deal with this whole situation is to buy the car back from insurance for $160, then immediately sell the car as is for $700-$1000. That way I can net about $5000. $3000 can get me a nice clean V6 2001 Camry with a clean title and I would still have $2000 in my pocket. But I bought the car new and the car always feels like part of family. So I let emotions to take over and kept it within family. It just makes me feel better this way.

For the future, I plan to keep driving it for 4 or 5 years until I can basically fully amortize the $2400 cost. Then I plan to have it painted for around $1500. If it happens, I shall update this thread one more time. Adiós!
 
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