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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My wife sideswiped a parked car on her driver side.

After calling police and insurance and driving the last few blocks home, I “fixed” the fender so the driver door would open and took it out for a drive.

The front tires were toed out and I had to turn the wheel ~1/12th rotation to the right to go straight, with no “pulling”. My friend pointed the wheels in the same direction by extending the driver (hit side) tie rod using some wheel alignment plates.

I took it out for another ride and still the steering wheel was turned to the right while car tracked straight and smooth down the road.

Knowing something was still wrong, we measured the distance between front and rear wheels and discovered the driver front wheel is almost 1/2” closer (at least 1/4” closer) to the rear than the passenger front. Something bent in that front suspension.

This was Thursday before Memorial Day weekend when we wanted to drive to the beach. The “fixes” seem successful, but I’m still waiting to get an estimate at the body shop nearest our home, a Honda dealer owned/named body shop. I’m hoping to get a real estimate tomorrow (Tuesday), but am really wondering what I should be hoping for in this scenario. NADA over $8000 would be good to get, but KBB $5100 might not be so good. It might make sense to just get it fixed with kids on their way to 16 years old in a few years anyway...

Of course the denso radiator I just bought on amazon arrived the day before. Wondering if I can/should try to return it.



After my “bodywork”:




Before:








Edit:
There’s a small bent area on the driver rear from some parking garage hit. The assented rear door lock stopped working. The Nav system hasn’t really known where we are in years, but the backup camera works, as does everything else. Feels like time for a new car, but I know the pilot is a great economical vehicle at this point. Deductible is $500. If damage is small, there’s no question as to what we will do, but if we are on the Border of the cost/value of it being totaled, I’m trying to be prepared for what angle to shoot for.

Edit2:
17” wheels and tires won’t go to waste, as I can install the spent 16” originals, and even use the 17” tires on my ridgeline
 

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I think you need more detailed knowledge about the damage.

If there's frame damage on the front lower control arm mount that rotated the LCA counter-clockwise, relative to the frame, it will probably be obvious if you compare both sides.

On the other hand, maybe its just the LCA or the ball joint that's damaged. That's an easy fix, and well worth doing.

If its frame damage, there's no practical way to know for sure how badly the steel around the mount has been compromised. That would be a tough call that basically comes down to how conservative you want to be with it. Starting with a "new to you" gen1 without structural damage is worth considering, if that's the case.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think you need more detailed knowledge about the damage.



If there's frame damage on the front lower control arm mount that rotated the LCA counter-clockwise, relative to the frame, it will probably be obvious if you compare both sides.



On the other hand, maybe its just the LCA or the ball joint that's damaged. That's an easy fix, and well worth doing.



If its frame damage, there's no practical way to know for sure how badly the steel around the mount has been compromised. That would be a tough call that basically comes down to how conservative you want to be with it. Starting with a "new to you" gen1 without structural damage is worth considering, if that's the case.


Thank you!

The guy at the body shop I am taking it to tried telling me that the tie rods and control arms on these vehicles are supposed to be sacrificial. Tie rods I believe, but the lower control arm looks like a heavy casting to me. I would think that the 1/2” is probably coming from the joint where the lower control arm meets the cradle. It would only need to be millimeters there.

I believe that the current setup of the vehicle is the front wheels pointing in the same direction, which is slightly left of center. I’m assuming that the rear wheels are aligned centered. (We did quickly measure the toe in on the rear wheels, and they look straight. This is an AWD vehicle. That Thursday night of the accident, I googled the toe in specs and believe I found the same specs for both front and rear: 0 degrees +-16’ I think. The front wheel drive versions had different specs with a little toe in I believe.) So with the front wheels pointed to the left, it seems logical that the steering wheel would need to be turned to the right to go straight.

I’m sure that just aligning the wheels to point forward when the steering wheel is straight could “solve” the problem and make the car appear to drive normally, but I wonder what a body shop will end up really doing. My wife made it 100 Miles each way this past weekend without issue, and claims to not even have noticed that she was driving with the steering wheel turned almost 1/12th turn to the right, like the left spoke is pointing to 10-o-clock instead of 9. That kind of makes me wonder if I should just throw up my hands and let my wife handle it all.

We are dropping the car off in a few minutes for an assessment from the body shop.




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I agree that it seems very unlikely that the LCA casting would deform before the attachment point. Even the cheapest aftermarket LCAs are pretty beefy, and the bolts that hold it in are probably the last thing in the assembly that would fail. I also agree that is sounds like the vehicle is tracking a little off-center. Over time, I would expect faster rear tire wear if its very much at all.

The other place to look is the front compliance bushing - I can believe that would deform enough, but I don't see how it would then result in an alignment that held. It sounds to me like you understand all the variables. Good luck on the solution.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks!

Today the shop claimed the lower control arm must be bent because the frame measurements are good. Maybe the frame bent at the mounts. I don’t know. It sounds like I’ve got about $5900+ in repairs. So this one may be close, and we may be able to control the outcome.

I will probably know more in the coming days.

The shop said the castings for control arms are soft castings. So maybe they are in fact designed to fail.
 

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Soft casting... They are making it up as they are going. But I do not see any benefit in putting you together regarding the purported damage to the LCAs, which can be proven or disproven with ease. Just hoist the car and visually compare the left and right LCAs. You'll see no damage on either as there is no way in hell these beefy castings would give in before the sheet metal of the body and subframe. This is pure math, for crying out loud. Subframe - a different story. It can be bent.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So maybe get a second opinion? They’ve come back saying the car has $5310 in damage and that it won’t be totaled. So we have four options I see:

1) drop the claim altogether in (fruitless) hopes of keeping insurance rates down.

2) pay $500 deductible and assume everything is good, which is a nice simple option to have my wife not driving an embarrassing car (when starting a new job in two weeks). Get a rental car for her work while the Pilot is getting fixed.

3) take the $4810 the insurance would pay out, and just fix it myself in time and put my wife in a nice looking old convertible for her work. Use the $5310 (plus 20% rental car cost)

4) get another estimate, especially regarding the control arm situation.




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I would look at options 2 + 4 That puts the responsibility for a quality repair on the body shop. If you can find a good shop that doesn't try to tell you LCA's are impact-absorbing and will fix it, you've got a good car again.

Assuming this one is in good shape, well maintained, all of that, you'll spend a lot more than $500 of your money getting to a similar situation.
 

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Option 5: climb under the car and look yourself. The worst case scenario is that the subframe is bent as is the body and the mounting point for the subframe would not align with a brand new OEM subframe. In Europe where I am from they would straighten the body on a special machine. Do they do it in N. A. I dunno. It really may be a very expensive job to fix the body in this situation and purported damage to the LCAs would not contribute much to those 5 grand. You could get LCAs with lots of life left in them from a scrap yard and it would be a 1hr job to replace them. So they are including something different in their estimate. A paint job of this magnitude is worth $200.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Unfortunately, my wife is feeling that it’s time to just let this car go. Two recent issues that are probably stupid quick fixes might be the straw breaking the camels back:

- small ant infestation. I thought I eliminated the source when I emptied the dirt out of the driver mudflap, but maybe I need to go around the whole car. They need to get moisture from somewhere to survive. So there must be a collection of water-retaining debris somewhere.

- rear AC vent apparently not blowing (per my 12 year old’s diagnosis). Nobody has checked fuses yet.

And the radiator is still sitting on my front porch in the box.

We are going to see what CarMax will HiV is as is because passing up a $4810 check from insurance plus tossing in our own $500 deductible, spending $5310 on this car doesn’t feel like a wise investment.

Continuing to look at our options.




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Discussion Starter #11
Does anyone know if the body panels from 2003-2005 fit a 2007, and if so, which panels? The hood looks different to me, but I wonder if the fenders and doors are the same.


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Discussion Starter #12
Does anyone know if the body panels from 2003-2005 fit a 2007, and if so, which panels? The hood looks different to me, but I wonder if the fenders and doors are the same.


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I did a search on car-part and only 2006-2008 Pilot parts come up for me for all the panels I’d need: front bumper, fender, both doors, and rear bumper. So I can take the option of buying a high miles black 2003-2005 off my options list.

My wife took the car to CarMax yesterday and they offered her $1500 as is. She and my daughter said they were insulted. LOL. ;)




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Discussion Starter #13
After looking at all the options and seriously considering trying to buy one of the many 155,000 mile $3500 pilots (most without our favorite feature, the backup camera), we decided to just say “screw it” and pay the $500 deductible and not capitalize on the situation. We can make sure the car gets 100% fixed.

The radiator is in the trunk, and I will probably ask them what makes most sense as to when to install it (before, during, or after the repairs). Since I live right next to the body shop, maybe when it’s all apart they would offer to let me install the radiator. I doubt it though.


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I'm with your wife. Let it go and start fresh. Returning the radiator will be like getting part of the deductible back.
 

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Whereas I would lean toward "better the devil you know than the one you don't." If what it ends up costing you one way or the other is relatively close, at least you know the maintenance history of the one you have, whereas an unknown one may come with a few hidden surprises.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Whereas I would lean toward "better the devil you know than the one you don't." If what it ends up costing you one way or the other is relatively close, at least you know the maintenance history of the one you have, whereas an unknown one may come with a few hidden surprises.
Yep. That, plus the fact that we can be harsh on the insurance company regarding repairs, I felt repairing it is the way to go. At least that one side of the car should be nice and shiny when it comes out of the body shop.

Then there’s the things I need to fix still:
  • $70 resistor for rear hvac fan (newly noticed)
  • passenger rear door not power locking or unlocking
  • mysterious clicking coming from dash, believed to be part of HVAC.
  • still haven’t done transfer case and trans fluid drain and fill. Trans fluid probably a good thing with radiator replacement coming.
  • radiator & coolant replacement
  • parking light out on front passenger light

I think that’s it. The locator hasn’t worked on the navigation system in years, but it’s also archaic in comparison to GPS on the phone. So we don’t care about that. The big screen for the backup camera works which is the most valuable feature in our opinions. I wish I had that on my ridgeline.

Maybe when my 12 year old hits driving age we will still have this one.

Oh, another part of the decision was the fact that this one made it look like the $5310 insurance money ($4810 possible check from insurance, plus $500 deductible), even plus the $1500 from CarMax still wouldn’t get us a comparable mileage Pilot with similar features, even without a backup camera. I was surprised to see this one went this high.

I was only really looking at black 2006-2008 pilots.

My wife really liked a $10,000 42,000 mile 2007 Pilot, but even it didn’t have a backup camera. I started to understand the “mileage is king” philosophy after talking to my brother who also repeatedly buys this gen1 model Pilot. He says he tries to get 200k miles out of them. Figuring they are near worthless at 200k, we can get a lot more usage from ours with 127,000 miles than a 155,000 mile one.

I will say that I somewhat regret not farming the work to my friend that would have bought used black panels from a junk yard, and just bolted them on for us, and also repacked the lower control arm, probably all at a total cost of only about $2000. My wife didn’t really want to go that route though. Three factors made me agree:

1) I would have done a lot of the work myself, probably HER biggest concern as she wants me doing other things.

2) This plus be the second time I’d be abusing a relationship with a neighbor (body shop) to just get a check out of the insurance company. I had a classic car with damage, and as a stated value ($5000) policy, a little dent in the door and B-pillar was going to total the car. The body shop gave me a
3) WHAT IF, we end up finding bigger, more serious damage, like frame damage to the vehicle? Since this is a State Farm authorizes repair facility for a Honda dealer, they can fix everything right and just charge the insurance company more. That is a big factor for me. My mechanic friend has suggested that I mark the control arm to be able to identify the original. Also, let’s say it doesn’t handle correctly after replacing just one side control arm. Then we are replacing both. What if the bumper paint isn’t “blending” right? Then maybe the hole car gets painted to match, something my friend wasn’t going to do at all. What if the paint fails? Then I’ve got a warranty from the body shop right behind my house.

Even though it is costing us, it feels like the right decision.




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I think sunk cost per mile is really important, as long as the vehicle does what you need it to do. Sounds like that's where you landed, too. Good luck with the repairs.

Then there’s the things I need to fix still:
  • $70 resistor for rear hvac fan (newly noticed)
  • passenger rear door not power locking or unlocking
  • mysterious clicking coming from dash, believed to be part of HVAC.
  • still haven’t done transfer case and trans fluid drain and fill. Trans fluid probably a good thing with radiator replacement coming.
  • radiator & coolant replacement
  • parking light out on front passenger light
If you can use a soldering iron even a little, replacing the rear fan thermistor costs about 50 cents. If search is working again, you should be able to find the part specs to search for, and clear directions for the work. Easy job.

Door lock actuators are a little complicated to remove and install the first time. Buying the complete assembly will make it a lot easier - you'll have identical "before" and "after" parts to compare as you figure out how to get all the bits back where they came from. Lots of good resources here for that work, too.

Other than the clicking, the rest is simple.
 

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Option 6: sell it and replace with new! I do realize that’s the most expensive option but she looks like she has served and should just be replaced. If you’re worried about the “devil you don’t know”, consider a brand new replacement. I have older relatives who considered buying new vehicles a waste of money but when we considered the price difference between new and certified used Toyotas and Hondas, it didn’t make much sense to buy used. Certified used were considered because of the unknown devil in the mix. In the end, my new purchases have paid off.


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Discussion Starter #20
After my wife settles into her new job, we will be willing to take on a new car payment. However, knowing that we are barely (or even not) making ends meet currently (on my income alone) with our Home Equity Line Of Credit balance increasing to nearly the value of a new car, we don’t want to add stress to my wife’s return to employment after 12 years. Hopefully we will have that HELOC paid off in no time, and have the more comfortable option of buying a new car later. The 2007 Pilot could turn into a great beater that we keep forever. I’m never selling my 2006 Ridgeline. It’s just too useful. The Pilot is similar for its ability to seat 8. And my wife really likes this body style. I’m not fighting that. ;)


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