Replacing a Car After an Accident


The text came through just as bedtime was starting to sound like a really good idea.

The text, from a friend I haven’t heard from in a while, said, “My Honda Accord got totaled this week and I need to buy a different car. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the Accord vs. Altima vs. Acura TSX?”

The accident happened when a young driver attempted to cross traffic but misjudged how much time she had. My friend, in her 2001 Accord, collided with the other vehicle. There were no injuries, but the old Honda didn’t make it through.

Needing to quickly buy a car when you had no plans to buy a car could lead to some impulse decisions, especially with the emotion of a fresh car accident.

Even among the Accord/Altima/TSX options she mentioned, there are significant differences depending on model year. She has narrowed down her choices to an ’07–’09 Altima, an ’06 or ’07 Accord or an ’04–’08 TSX. She mentioned being interested in a hybrid Accord and is leaning toward another Honda, because she’s driven Accords for her entire driving life.

My advice was pretty simple: Avoid the Accord Hybrid, unless you buy new. The Altima is a great car, but it uses a continuously variable transmission, which keeps the 4-cylinder revving high and gets noisy, especially for someone used to an Accord. The TSX is basically a spiffed-up Accord and will cost more unless you buy older.

In a situation like this, I think it makes sense to either go with the Accord or step up to the TSX if one can be found for the price of a used Accord. Regardless, the insurance claim on the ’01 Accord won’t nearly cover the cost of a newer car. That’s why taking time to do the right research, even when in a hurry to replace a car, is imperative.

Narrow down the models you’re interested in, research prices and listings, read reviews, ask people you know their thoughts, take thorough test drives, and then make your choice.

 If your car was totaled, would you replace it with the same model?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Honda Accord
Used Nissan Altima
Used Acura TSX


  1. Ouch… if that happened to me I’d probably try to find my exact car. Same model, same year, and try to minimize my losses.

  2. I’m happy to say I’ve never had this experience. We came close a few years ago after taking a ride on the front of a semi truck in our 2006 Trailblazer. Although the whole left side was wiped out, the frame was fine and repairs of all that sheet metal was just below the total threshold, so the insurance company gave me the option of fix or total. We did fix it and it’s still giving yeoman service. If we had been forced to replace it though, I would have put the money towards a pickup truck. The towing ability of the trailblazer is good but not up to the capacity of a pickup truck, and I’d like to hook up a 5th wheel trailer to go out and practice my retirement laziness in new places.

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