Should I sell my car to a junkyard?
August 10, 2005 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Do I want to sell my car to a salvage yard? If so, how do I do it?

Long story short, my car presently needs enough repairs that it would cost more than the car's value, once labor is factored in, to fix it. I would be fine with this situation, except that I have to move across the country and don't trust it to make the 3000 mile trip. So I think my options are 1) sell it to a private party with the skills to save labor costs by fixing it himself, or 2) sell it for parts.

I know nothing about the latter option, and would only prefer it because I imagine it would be faster and simpler than trying to peddle a whole crappy car online, in the paper, etc. I have no illusions that I'm going to make a boatload of money either way, but what's a realistic amount at salvage? A few hundred? What else do I need to be concerned with? How do I find a "good" salvage yard, if there's even a distinction?
posted by rkent to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
It's unlikely that you'll be able to sell the car for parts. I think you'll find that most junk yards will, at best, waive the fee for disposing of the car.

At least that's been my experience.
posted by o0o0o at 4:17 PM on August 10, 2005

A few hundred. I did it right before I shipped out. No ceremony, only time to say goodbye after handing over the pink slip. I got $400 in 1994 for an '82 Chevy S-10 pickup in tired shape but running.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:35 PM on August 10, 2005

I donated my (almost entirely brakeless) Golf to the SF SPCA and claimed the Blue Book value as a tax deduction. I know the California DMV is clamping down a bit on this practice, but it was effortless from my POV: they just towed the beast away and gave me a receipt.
posted by rdc at 4:43 PM on August 10, 2005

Tow the car with your moving truck; repair it, and save yourself a year of new/used car payments. I'm in a similar boat right now. My sister is in college and is driving a car that isn't worth (BB Value) more than $1000. It's having all sorts of troubles right now, but it's a car that still drives and gets the job done, and even a $1000 in car repairs a year is still a hell of a lot cheaper than car payments (along with insurance on a better car).

If someone thinks that I'm wrong, please tell me why, because I'd love to get rid of the damn thing once and for all, but dollar for dollar, it occurs to me that my family should just struggle with it until my sis graduates.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:59 PM on August 10, 2005

In 1999, I had a 1982 Toyota Tercel that would not GO. I tried to sell it to several salvage yards - no one would take it! I ended up selling it to my next door neighbor for $75 and they gave it to their 18 year old daughter (poor her!!) to fix up. It was gone for a looong time while she saved money to have the required repairs done, but eventually it re-appeared around town.
I'm just saying - don't count on a salvage yard even taking it.
posted by clh at 5:20 PM on August 10, 2005

Towing a car 3000 miles behind a truck will be a horrible mission, and unless you can get one of those weird a-frame towing rigs you'll need to have someone back in the car for the whole distance.

My girlfriend's experience with a wrecker was pretty bad, she'd inherited a crappy beater from a friend when he went overseas and it died pretty soon, so I towed it to her driveway and she called a wrecker, they promised to tow it and leave a cheque in the letterbox (only a hundy, but still) instead they towed it and didn't pay. Yep, they just stole the car. She was so glad to be rid of it she didn't do anything about it, I guess they were counting on that.

Just sell it, you should get something for it, especially if it runs enough for someone to drive it away. I sold my horrible old Mitsubishi sedan this way, put it in the paper for about $400, and took $300 (but not $200, which I was offered by the first guys to come and look at it). It had no registration, had no warrant of fitness, and required about $1600 in repairs to get it to warrantable status.

I don't know what cars are worth in your corner of the world, so bear in mind that this is New Zealand, and $NZ.
posted by The Monkey at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2005

It depends upon the automobile. I sold a totaled 1984 Volvo 240d to a junkyard for $700 around 1992 and I just recently sold a totaled 1982 BMW 323i for $1,000. The 323i is rare in the US and I sold it to a guy who wanted to use the front end parts to make a track car (the 323i front end accepts a 6 cylinder where the 320i/318i only takes a 4) so it was an unusual situation. You've got nothing to lose by calling the junkyard and asking what they'll give you.
posted by Carbolic at 6:06 PM on August 10, 2005

If it runs, donate it. If you itemize your taxes you can take a deduction. If it's not worth enough to bother itemizing (and losing your standard deduction), donate it anyway. It's easy, and you'll feel good.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:25 PM on August 10, 2005

you didn't tell us year make and model, so it's kind of hard to say ... you can try putting out a classified ad specifying that you're selling it "for parts" ...

i had a '91 mercury grand marquis with a burned transmission and many other problems ... when i bought another car, i asked a local metal salvage/recylcer outfit who would be willing to tow it and give me a little something for it and they gave me a number ... i took the plates off, called the guy, signed over the title and he gave me 60 bucks for it

don't expect a lot of money this way ... but anything you can get out of a dead car is better than the hassle of owning a dead car
posted by pyramid termite at 8:51 PM on August 10, 2005

Is there a CarMax nearby? I just sold a 1989 Mazda 626 to them for $750 and it took less than 3 hours. My car had less than 100K on it, though they claim that they will buy anything.
posted by bendy at 11:02 PM on August 10, 2005

Just get a tow dolly if you want to tow it behind the moving truck. Makes the job pretty easy; no need to have someone sit in the car for 3000 miles! My brother towed a car 900 miles up from Texas with no problems behind a pickup truck. If you do tow, rent the truck from Penske or UHaul and do the move yourself. Having a company tow the car for you will cost a lot more than doing it yourself. You won't get very much at a salvage yard, maybe $500 so it might be worth keeping the car unless you need the small amount of cash it will bring.

If you can do or are willing to learn car work, you can save a ton of money repairing it yourself. In the past year I did the front brakes, water pump, and alternator on my 89 Blazer. All easy stuff to do if you get a manual for your car. Cost for parts was ~$100. Probably would have cost at least $600 to have this work done.

My Blazer isn't worth anything to sell but I can do the repairs myself. Cost of repairs per year is far, far less than cost of car payments for a year would be.
posted by 6550 at 11:53 PM on August 10, 2005

You might consider ebay. I have my wrecked Honda listed there now.
posted by wsg at 1:25 AM on August 11, 2005

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