Unless your car is well and truly trashed — not running, rusted to bits, and battered and dented inside and out — it’s probably not worth selling it to a junkyard. Instead, we have a few alternatives to consider.
Find out why J.D. Power says that “sell your car [to a junkyard] should be considered as a last resort.
Used car prices are exorbitant, even for the pesky
Check your local used car listings and you’ll likely find a few cars with broken engines or blown transmissions. But, rather than offering $1 or begging for a free pickup, these dead vehicles are being sold for thousands of dollars, simply because supply is so low right now. Even totaled cars are more expensive than ever.
This means that if your car is working, you can sell it, trade it in or separate it. Selling to a junkyard may be the fastest way to get rid of it, but you may have regrets.
You’ll only get a couple hundred bucks from a junkyard
In 2014, I finally got a real adult job, earning adult money, and I could afford a real adult car. I leased a Subaru Crosstrek but had to figure out what to do with my 2001 Subaru Outback. It had 199,000 miles on the odometer and leaking head gaskets (one of the most common Outback problems for older models) which would cost much more than the value of the vehicle to be replaced.
When the dealership offered me $500 in exchange, I thought, “No way, I can get way no longer sell it for scrap. After all, a friend had just spent almost that much on a replacement hood for her car – and my car had a hood, four undented doors, and a catalytic converter that had been replaced only a few years ago. I was going to bank.
I won $170.
This is because many junkyards don’t pay for the individual parts you sell to them. They don’t even necessarily pay for the vehicle based on its condition or popularity. The junkyard I went to weighed my car, paid me pennies a pound, and wrote a check. Looking back now, I should have gone home and put my car up for sale privately – I probably would have gotten at least that $500, maybe more. Hindsight is 20/20.
JD Power calls selling a car to a junkyard “the least rewarding and least profitable way to sell a car and should be reserved for a vehicle with little or no hope”. If your vehicle still has a spark of life, consider one of these alternatives.
What to do instead: disassemble it for parts
Stripping a car for parts can be the most cost-effective option, but it’s also the hardest. By selling spare parts, you can earn much more money. It’s also a lot more complicated because you’ll have to dismantle the vehicle yourself or hire someone to do it. McCluskey Automotive recommends starting by pulling simple parts like mirrors, steering wheels, CD players, wheels, lights, etc. Then you can send the remaining body to the scrapyard.
It’s a great option if you’re willing to put in the work to sell used car parts. We recommend only doing this if you have experience in cars or are willing to work with a mechanic.
What to do instead: sell your vehicle “as is”
Listing your junk vehicle “as is” on a sales site is the best way to sell a car that doesn’t drive. Junk car buyers often search ads looking for cars like these. Some are fins, which can replace broken parts, fix all body problems and bring the car back to life. Buyers can pay top dollar for your vehicle just to get a few specific parts.
The downside to this option is that you may have to post your vehicle and wait for an interested buyer to bite.
What to do instead: use it as an exchange
Many dealerships are in desperate need of inventory, any type of inventory. Doing a $2,000 repair might not be worth it to you, but it could still be profitable for a dealership, who can do it all in-house and then resell the vehicle for thousands more. .
If you know you’ll be buying or leasing a new car in the near future, call the local dealerships and see what they might offer you in exchange. It might not be a lot, but it will help lower your monthly payment a bit.
If you’re going to scrap, follow these tips
If your vehicle is indeed at the end of its life, a scrap is a good way to give it new life after death. Just know that you’ll get very little out of the deal beyond the good feeling of getting that unwanted car out of your yard or driveway.
- Prepare all the documents you need in advance, so you don’t have to make multiple trips.
- Go to a junkyard or junkyard that determines value based on year, make, model and condition rather than weight.
- Call and compare offers from different dumps.
- Triple check to remove any personal items or things you want to keep from the vehicle.
- Follow up with your local DMV if you need to. You never know what will happen to your vehicle after you sell it to a junkyard, and you don’t want to be held liable should it end up being a refurbished salvage vehicle.
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