Alas, poor Subaru. I knew him, Horatio.
October 25, 2011 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Best experiences in getting rid of a non-working car?

So I'm in New Jersey and have a 99 Subaru Legacy wagon that finally quit on me. There have been spatterings of these types of questions on the Green, but was looking for first hand experience / recommendations from people who have used one of the "", "", "" and similar services. The engine's dead, after 185,000 miles. Want to avoid the shady places and looking for an easy "Here's some cash, Rich, thanks, we'll tow it away to a nice home in the sky." I know an option is to donate it.. I just want to see if the cash is worth more.
posted by rich to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Keep in mind that the tax deduction you'd get from donating it is only worth something if you itemize your deductions. If the standard deduction is larger than the total of all the deductions you could itemize, then the donation gets you nothing.
posted by jon1270 at 11:20 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm always baffled why people find it so hard to get rid of cars. Note this isn't a comment about you personally, it's just the issue in general baffles me given my own personal background.

Open the yellow pages in the phone book and look for auto wreckers. Or if that's too low tech, do an Internet search and get results like this or this and start calling around. (Apologies if I didn't guess the right geographical location for you.)

Go with the wrecker that will give you the best deal for your car. If it turns out they can't/won't pick up the car, ask them to recommend a service that will.
posted by sardonyx at 11:23 AM on October 25, 2011

Sorry I meant this as the second link.
posted by sardonyx at 11:24 AM on October 25, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry if the question wasn't clear. I know I can just call up any old place. I was looking for anyone who has had (preferably local) personal experience and positive (or negative) recommendations (as well as any 'gee, I should have...'), as there aren't too many online reviews on the providers in this space.

And, good point, jon1270. Didn't think ahead on that deduction point.
posted by rich at 11:40 AM on October 25, 2011

I think we both need to clarify our comments.

When I say call up an auto wrecker, that's precisely what I mean -- an auto scarp yard with a physical location, one of those places that you can go and see car after car, and that will sell you used parts.

What I thought you were asking for by mentioning, "", "", "," are those middlemen who get customers by tacking signs onto lamp-posts or placing free ads in the classifieds. Those are the kinds of services I would avoid like the plague, but they are also the types of services that people often rely upon. It was those types of services I was trying to steer you away from.
posted by sardonyx at 11:56 AM on October 25, 2011

What's wrong with your car?

I had a car with a busted head gasket. Classic mechanic's special (too high in labor costs to be worth fixing - but its like $10 in actual parts). I posted it in craigslist and had it gone by 8am the next day. Point being there might be a higher reward way to go by cutting out the middle man)
posted by bitdamaged at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2011

"free Subaru, does not run - you tow it" on Craigslist will probably have it gone by the end of the day.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2011

Response by poster: sardonyx - got it. Do you have experience with those kinds of places, though? Or just a feeling they're not the way to go?

As for the car, the engine is dead - probably a broken rod. The local auto wrecker offered $250.

tylerkaraszewski - being the greedy, money-hungry person I am, I'd prefer to not leave money on the table.
posted by rich at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2011

Personally, no. I've heard some stories about people getting poor service from them, but that's purely anecdotal.

It's just that I have enough connections to the automotive trade, that I'd never think about using a middleman if I could possibly avoid it. I figure I'm better off dealing directly with the wrecker. That way, I don't have to leave money on the table (potentially) for the middleman to take his cut.
posted by sardonyx at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2011

Best answer: I had a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee that, after 320,000km, had both the engine and the transmission go. Put the carcass up on Kijiji (much more commonly used in my area then Craigslist), and three days later was paid $600 for it - as-is, where-is. The purchaser wanted a door, the sunroof, and a couple other parts out of it, and planned to then donate the remains to charity.

Listing it online is easy and free - worst-case scenario, you either get no inquiries, or a wrecker/broker contacts you through there and makes an offer.
posted by PGWG at 1:24 PM on October 25, 2011

I used earlier this year and it was a fine experience. They paid 4x what the local wreckers quoted me. The only thing that was annoying was having to get documents notarized - fortunately I have a friend who is a notary so it wasn't a big deal but it can be a hassle. Otherwise no problems, totally legit.
posted by radioamy at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2011

I've donated two junkers to the National Kidney Foundation; both times it has been completely hassle-free and required only the legal minimum of interaction on my part.
The laws regarding deductible value on cars changed recently, however, so that now instead of deducting "fair market value" (i.e. blue book) you can only deduct the value they got for it at auction or $500, whichever is greater. You have to wait a while to get the receipt that tells you "sorry, we only got $x for it."
posted by leapfrog at 2:05 PM on October 25, 2011

Best answer: Somewhere out there, there's some guy who just got rear-ended in his '99 Subaru. Or maybe he just blew the transmission, or something. Anyway, this guy's a decent mechanic, and he'd love to buy your car, use the best pieces of yours and his together to make one good car, and drive off into the sunset.

Your car is worth more to this guy, if you can find him, than the $50 the scrap yard will pay for it as a hunk of steel. The middle-man places sardonyx is on about will buy your car, mark it up, and sell it to him - but if you advertise the car on Craigslist, you might find the guy yourself and keep much more of the money. And if you don't find him, well, the Craigslist ad was free and you can go on to the next best idea, whatever that turns out to be.
posted by richyoung at 4:19 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Find a Subaru enthusiast forum, such as NASIOC, and advertise it as a parts car.

I once got $90 from a junkyard for a busted 1989 Integra and they came to get it from me.
posted by twblalock at 4:27 PM on October 25, 2011

Best answer: Quick note from a former mechanic: mechanics, especially in recent times, will often make side money by buying broken cars fixing them and reselling them. I'd definitely put it on craigslist or your local Reader or free paper. You may make from $500 to $1000 depending on its overall condition and how broken it is.

If the engine can be turned over, the crank still turns, it can be fixed cheaply enough to make some money. If not, take your $250.
posted by snsranch at 5:55 PM on October 25, 2011

I called Habitat for Humanity for a dead car about eight years ago. If I remember right, there was one small miscommunication on the date. They showed up on the rescheduled date, loaded the car, and took it away. A week or so later I got a letter that enabled me to take a $500 deduction on my taxes, if I'd done my taxes in such a way that that made any difference whatsoever.

It was easy as pie. I never found out what they did with the car, but all I know is I didn't have to worry about it at all.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:25 PM on October 25, 2011

Response by poster: thanks, sardonyx for the insight, and allt he rest. I put it up on Craiglist late last night and have 7 offers inside of 1/2 an hour.

We'll see if any pan out today, but offers are in the $700-$800 range, so appreciate the push to go the local route. A couple are parts people, more than a couple have a recent accident they want to merge parts.

I'll let you know what the final happening is.
posted by rich at 5:42 AM on October 26, 2011

Best answer: So, a final followup. What I was trying to subconsciously avoid ended up happening. I got a ton of response via Craigslist. Then after spending lots of time filtering out people for various things from ridiculous offers to people who didn't read the ad, I started going through what seemed like reasonable offers.

People started to not show up, not respond to emails to finalize details, reneg on their best offer, and so forth.

So, after 4 misses, finally the last guy ended up working out - though only for $480, off the top "offers". Still better than the local wrecker, but I never did check out the online 'sight unseen' guys. Which is what the original question really was about in the first place.
posted by rich at 4:02 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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