Imagine this – You are driving along in your old car when, suddenly, a deer darts out in front of you. You don't swerve to miss the deer due to oncoming traffic, so you hit the deer head on. You get out of the vehicle and look at the damage, but it doesn't seem too bad. The corner of the bumper is dented, the headlight is broken, but the engine still purrs like a kitten. Now you have to decide whether or not to turn the damage into your insurance company because your deductible is too high… or if they would even cover it if you don't have comprehensive coverage.
While it may seem like getting the collision repairs isn't worth the time, money, or effort, the collision damage could cause your vehicle to fail inspection. Therefore, you may still need to make the repairs just to keep the vehicle legal on the roadways. Here are a few things to look for that could cause your vehicle to fail inspection, and a few other things to consider.
Are the headlights misaligned?
One thing that most states require during an inspection is operable headlights that are aligned correctly. With front-end damage of any kind, the bulbs in the headlights could become misaligned, which can cause your vehicle to fail inspection.
To determine if your headlights are still aligned after a run-in with a deer (or any other collision), park your vehicle facing a garage door, fence, or wall at night. Shine the headlights and high beams on the vertical structure to determine if they are still aligned correctly. If one or both are pointed upwards, downwards, or too far to a side, you will need to have your vehicle repaired.
The methods of repairing misaligned headlights will depend on the casing of the lights. In some vehicles, the bulbs can be adjusted to the correct placement. In other vehicles, the entire light housing may need to be replaced. It simply depends on the make, model and year of your vehicle.
Are the outer coverings of the headlights and turning signals broken or missing?
In many states, inspection stations will fail vehicles if the lights are not covered with a lens. This is the plastic piece that covers the bulb and gives the light color or not. Without these coverings, turn signals (and brake lights) are white, which could confuse other motorists.
Check with a collision repair shop to find out what the laws are in your state. Some states allow clear and colored tape to be used in place of the missing plastic pieces. However, tape may not hold up to adverse weather conditions, especially snow, ice and rain. It's best to get the parts replaced instead of just putting a bandage on.
One thing, however, that could affect the ability for a new light casing to be installed in your vehicle is if the surrounding panels are dented, which they likely are. For this reason, it's a good idea to not bother with doing the job yourself with replacement parts you may find at a junkyard.
Do you dodge deer frequently?
In some parts of the country, it seems that drivers have to dodge deer constantly. In fact, State Farm suggests that motorists in West Virginia have a 1 in 40 chance of hitting a deer in one year. Now, consider what could happen if you hit another deer at some point, especially if your vehicle already has unrepaired damage. A second collision may make it even more expensive and difficult to repair, and might leave your vehicle inoperable.
If you live in an area with a large deer population, consider adding comprehensive coverage to your insurance plan if you don't already have it, just in case you hit a deer. If you do have comprehensive, make sure you can afford your deductible.
When you washed your car last, did you take the time to really inspect the body? Did you notice any rust forming anywhere on the body? Are you aware of the fact that allowing the rust unrepaired will eventually cause you a great deal of grief. On my site, you will find some tips on preventing rust, how to make small repairs yourself and advice on when to have the professionals take a look. I have learned through personal experience how costly rust can be if you do not take the time and invest the money in making the small repairs. Hopefully, the information I have provided you can help you avoid the same expenses.