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how to junk a car
March 12, 2006 11:18 AM   Subscribe

In California, what are the steps that I should take to sell my totaled car to a dismantler? I want rid myself of all liability for the vehicle and get as much money as possible for the parts.

I was rear ended last week and my car was determined to be a total loss. Fortunately, no one was injured, and the other driver had good insurance. I was able to financially recoup my loss without penalty to my own insurance.

But, I have a totalled vehicle in my driveway that I am required to junk.


My questions are:

1. Do I need to register my car as a salvaged vehicle before I sell it to a junk yard?

2. Do I need to give the dismantlers a title to the car?

3. How do I know how much my car is worth to a dismantler (I was rear ended so the engine is entirely intact)?

4. Since the vehicle is still intact and drivable, how can I rid myself of all liability in case they decide to joy ride?

Any horror stories or other general pieces of advice are welcome.
posted by |n$eCur3 to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Why don't you donate it - there are loads of companies that'll come pick it up (mine went to the American Lung Association because I was trying to quit smoking at the time) and you can write off the value at tax time.
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 11:26 AM on March 12, 2006


1. Do I need to register my car as a salvaged vehicle before I sell it to a junk yard?

Nope. Call a junkyard like Pick Your Part or Pick-n-Pull--if you can't drive it down to the salvage yard, they'll tow it away. They'll handle the majority of the paperwork--you'll just need to sign the pink slip.

2. Do I need to give the dismantlers a title to the car?

Yes. You'll need to sign the pink slip / title and give it to the salvage yard. They'll have a form which lists the car as "totalled" or "salvage".

3. How do I know how much my car is worth to a dismantler (I was rear ended so the engine is entirely intact)?

The salvage yard will probably only give you fifty to 100 bucks for it, but be sure to mention the engine is running and intact when you sell it to the salvage yard since they'll be interested in that.

4. Since the vehicle is still intact and drivable, how can I rid myself of all liability in case they decide to joy ride?

Once you sign the pink slip / title, you're absolved of all liability--the car now belongs to the salvage yard and they're now responsible for it. You'll need to mail to the DMV the Bill of Sale/Release of Liability after you sign over the vehicle so the DMV knows who now owns the car.

Those vehicle-donation programs are a scam--in order to qualify for the tax deduction, the value of all your itemized deductions needs to exceed the minimum, which I think is $5000. So if you donate your car, and they give you 5001.00 for it, you'll only get $1. You're better off selling it to a junkyard.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:55 AM on March 12, 2006


I've junked a car in California before (though it was a few years ago.) First, call your dismantler and ask what they want/need from you, what they're likely to give you for the car (they'll be able to give you something close with make/model and a description of the damage), and whether they'll pay for the tow. If you don't need cash-in-hand, I'll second the suggestion to talk to some charities as well (but as a previous poster noted, if you want to get the maximum financial benefit, donation is not the route.)

You should look for a junkyard that specializes in your make of car.

In my case, I had to go to DMV with my (out of state) title and have it converted to a "Junk Certificate". This marks the vehicle in the system as being junked, and if someone were to try to re-title it, it would get titled as a revived junked car. In effect, when you get the certificate, your car is no longer a vehicle, but a piece of junk -- and if someone were to repair it, they'd have to get the junk recertified as a vehicle again before retitling/registering it.

The dismantler that I sold it to couldn't accept anything without a junk certificate, but with the certificate he was able to hand me cash on the spot.

I got something like 400 bucks from a Volvo and Datsun junkyard for a barely-running 1980 Volvo with a blown clutch cable, lots of rust, and a nearly useless engine. After the deal was done, I asked the junkyard what the most valuable part of the car was... it was the alloy wheels, which were unique to certain 1980 and 81 Deisel Volvos, and extremely hard to find -- he expected to get about $500 a wheel for them.
posted by toxic at 12:12 PM on March 12, 2006


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