Unless your car is well and truly wrecked – won’t run, rusted to pieces, and beaten and dented inside and out – it probably isn’t worth selling to a junkyard. Instead, we have a few alternatives to consider.
Learn why JD Power says “sell your car” [to a junkyard] should be considered as a last resort.”
Used car prices are skyrocketing, even for clunkers
Check your local used car listings and you’ll likely find a few cars with broken engines or burnt-out transmissions. But instead of $1 offers or begging for free pickup, these dead vehicles are selling for thousands of dollars just because the supply is so low right now. Even cars in total are more expensive than ever.
That means that if your car is running at all, you have a decent chance of selling, trading or distributing it. Selling to a junkyard may be the quickest way to get rid of it, but you might regret it.
You only get a few hundred dollars from a junkyard
In 2014, I finally got a real grown-up job to make real grown-up money, and I could afford a real grown-up car. I rented a Subaru Crosstrek but had to figure out what to do with my 2001 Subaru Outback. It had 199,000 miles on it and infamously leaking head gaskets (one of the most common Outback problems for older models) that would cost a lot more than the value of the vehicle to replace.
When the dealer offered me $500 as a trade-in I thought “I can’t get” way more sales to the junkyard.” After all, a friend had spent nearly as 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 a few years ago. I went banking.
I made $170.
That’s because many shipyards don’t pay for the individual parts you sell them. They don’t even necessarily pay for the vehicle based on condition or popularity. The junkyard I went to weighed my car, paid me pennies a pound, and cut out a check. Looking back now, I should have driven home and listed my car privately – I probably should have gotten at least that $500, maybe more. In hindsight is 20/20.
JD Power calls selling a car at a junkyard “the least rewarding and least profitable way to sell a car and should be reserved for a vehicle with little to no hope.” If your vehicle has a glimmer of life left, consider one of these alternatives.
What To Do Instead: Strip It For Parts
Stripping a car for parts may be the most profitable option, but it is also the most difficult. Selling individual parts can make you a lot more money – it’s also a lot more complicated because you have to disassemble 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. After that, you can send the remaining body to the junkyard.
This is a great option if you are willing to put in the work of selling used auto parts. We recommend that you only do this if you have experience working on cars or are willing to work with a mechanic.
What You Should Do Instead: Sell Your Vehicle “As Is”
Listing your scrap car “as is” on a sales site is the best way to sell a car that doesn’t drive. Junk car buyers often look for deals looking for cars like this one. Some are flippers, which can replace the broken parts, fix any bodywork problems and bring the car back to life. Buyers can pay a high price for your vehicle to get a few specific parts.
The downside of this option is that you may have to put down your vehicle and wait for an interested buyer to bite.
What to do instead: use it as a trade-in?
Many dealers are desperate for inventory – any kind of inventory. Performing a $2,000 repair may not be worth it to you, but it can still be profitable for a dealer, who can do it all in-house and then sell the vehicle for thousands of dollars more.
If you know that you will be buying or leasing a new car in the near future, give local dealers a call and see what they can offer you as a trade-in. It may not be much, but it will help lower your monthly payment a bit.
If you do go to the junkyard, follow these tips:
If your vehicle is truly at the end of its life, a junkyard is a great way to give it a new lease of life after death. Keep in mind that you get very little out of the transaction other than the good feeling of getting that scrap 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 salvage yard or junkyard that will determine value based on year, make, model and condition rather than weight.
- Call around and compare offers from different junkyards.
- Double check to remove any personal items or things you may want to keep from the vehicle.
- Contact your local DMV if needed. You never know what will happen to your vehicle after you sell it to a junkyard, and you don’t want to be on the hook if it ends up as a refurbished salvage vehicle.
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