What is a dead car worth?
November 10, 2009 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I own a 1997 VW Golf that threw a rod in 2004 and has been sitting (inside a garage) ever since. Donating it to charity has no tax benefit for me. It needs to go. Does it have any cash value at all? If so, how much?

I've been looking on Craigslist, and there have been some '97 Golf "parts cars" listed recently in the $300 - $500 range, but who knows if those sold? Would a junkyard pay me anything for it? If the engine and tires were replaced, I suspect it would run ok - is there some DIY High School car enthusiast who is dying to take this car off my hands and make it into their ride?

I saw this but my car has no KBB value because it doesn't actually run.
posted by anastasiav to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Open yellow pages, go to "auto parts-used" section and start making some calls.

I think at this point you'd be fortunate to get a junkyard that would take it off your property for free, but you may luck out and actually get money offered for it in addition to the transport.


Get estimates from local mechanics on replacing the engine and tires and any other parts (battery?), and compare that to the KBB value. Is the value of the car in running condition considerably more than the parts/labor to repair it?
posted by de void at 12:47 PM on November 10, 2009

Call your local Pick and Pull.
posted by zippy at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2009

"there have been some '97 Golf "parts cars" listed recently in the $300 - $500 range, but who knows if those sold? "

It would be pretty easy to find out.
posted by Mitheral at 12:54 PM on November 10, 2009

There are services that will haul away junk cars. They even give you a nominal payment for it (like from 25 to 100 bucks.) I know they exist in Maine because my folks' neighbor used one about 10 years ago. I'd look in the yellow pages, but I also used to see ads in Uncle Henry's for those services. Maybe someone here will suggest the term to Google.

Anyway, I'd make a craigslist post for "parts car. $300 bucks, you must tow it." I bet someone will counter with $200, and I'd probably take it. If not, call one of the aforementioned junk haulers. You may have better luck with the craigslist ad if you wait until spring-- it's getting a little too cold to be messing around in the driveway so some people are going to be waiting on the car repair projects.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:54 PM on November 10, 2009

Response by poster: Is the value of the car in running condition considerably more than the parts/labor to repair it?

Yes, and we don't have money to put into it, otherwise we would have fixed it within the past few years.
posted by anastasiav at 1:02 PM on November 10, 2009

Best answer: Find the KBB value for it, take the minimum listed (poor condition or whatever), then knock off 1/3 or so. Post it on Craigslist. See what happens. You'll probably get some interest, maybe a few offers. Take one if it's good. Otherwise relist at $100 less after a week. Keep doing that. You'll definitely be able to get a few hundred minimum, but I think probably more.
posted by Slinga at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2009

Call your local vocational schools and see if they want the car for teaching purposes. But I'd say Slinga's is the most efficient way.
posted by zippy at 1:19 PM on November 10, 2009

Best answer: See also "What's the best market to sell my lemon?" - I sold a non-moving, needs $2000+ in repairs, 10-year-old van on Craigslist for $200 in a matter of hours. The keys are honesty in the vehicle's condition and a reasonable price. Your cash value is around that price - a couple hundred bucks, which is better than most other options at your disposal.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:24 PM on November 10, 2009

I'm sure the amount you could get for a junked car varies enormously by make, model, and area...and I'm no expert there. But if one tale of experience can help at all-

I had the same thing happen in the 1990's with a 13 year old light Dodge pick up truck- a rod went, the engine seized up... nobody was saying "bricked" in those days but that's what happened to it. On a bridge on a busy highway.

A kind stranger rope-towed me (illegally) to town and I had to park it behind a dry cleaner's and start making phone calls. I learned that it was not worth fixing, called a few salvage lots and found little interest. I finally got one guy to come out... he looked at it, looked at me, and made his one and final offer:

$35 bucks.

I had just put a new $120 gas tank on the dang thing. Heck, there had to be more than thirty five dollars worth of GAS in it! But it was clear that the buyers had all the advantage here... and with zero options, I took it. I felt like the biggest chump EVER, and to this day I'm too ashamed to tell anyone I know what I got for it.

Hope this helps- no matter what you get for your car, you can always take comfort that at least you did better than me. :)
posted by GuffProof at 1:44 PM on November 10, 2009

There's all sorts of good stuff in that Golf.
The catalytic converter alone is probably worth at least $50. All of the parts are worth something separately, really. Low-ball, the transmission is probably worth $100.
A junkyard should give you something for it, but they're interested in cutting it up and salvaging those juicy parts for themselves.
If you're up for it, you could take it apart and sell the bits on Craigslist or Ebay on your own. Sell the front seats, the air-bags, the control modules, and all of the good, working parts from it. The engine might be shot, but the exhaust manifolds, power-steering pump, A/C compressor, and alternator are still good and worth a few bucks.
There are so many parts that you could make some money on. Door panels, mirrors, control arms, rims, radiators and condensers. Man, you could make a few hundred bucks even if you priced each part at $10 no matter what it is.
You and a friend could rip that car apart in a weekend. Gutting a car is really easy when you don't have to worry about putting it back together. Difficult wiring harness connectors? Who cares! Cut it! Belts, hoses? Cut 'em!
People are always looking for cheap German car parts. If you're willing to put in some sweat and knuckle busting, you could cut out the junkyard middlemen and make all of that money yourself.

If I were your mechanic, I'd give you $800 and put an engine in it myself. If you don't feel like doing all of that scrapping work (and I certainly wouldn't blame you) see if your mechanic is interested.
posted by Jon-o at 2:54 PM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Post it vwvortex.com and see if someone wants it as a parts car.
posted by elgalan207 at 3:11 PM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Definitely worth the most selling it piece by piece, and then hauling the carcass away. (If you're lucky, you can find someone knowledgeable about metal scrapping and you might make a few bucks off the steel.) But that's a lot of work. And once you commit to it, you kind of have to go through with it until you break even.

Second best bet is selling it to someone as a parts car or fixer upper that they will use themselves.

Because there is almost no money in fixing up such a car and trying to sell it again for profit.

(Whoops, Jon-o said the same thing.)

I believe if you can find a way to drag it to the junkyard rather than having them pick it up, you will get better money for it.

(An option might be to do a hybrid of the two- see if you can sell off some of the better bits piece by piece, and then drag it to the junkyard. Just tell them someone stole stuff off of it while it sat.)
posted by gjc at 3:41 PM on November 10, 2009

Best answer: elgalan207 is right, you should post it on VWVortex.

I had an old Integra that broke down and my local Pick and Pull gave me $90 for it. I probably could have made more than that just selling the wheels. But I was moving and didn't have the time to deal with it.
posted by twblalock at 3:47 PM on November 10, 2009

I tried to sell a 1981 Camaro and couldn't. It wasn't running and had some rust. I finally gave in and sold it to the auto wrecker for $100.00. They came and towed it.

Auto wreckers will take just about any vehicle.
posted by Taurid at 12:04 AM on November 11, 2009

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