What should I do with the dead Hyundai in the garage?
May 26, 2016 5:35 PM   Subscribe

About a year ago, the 2009 Hyundai Sonata I had been driving to death suddenly went kaput. I was driving back to work from lunch when the check engine light came on. I pulled into the nearest auto store and checked the oil. It was bone dry.

I bought a couple liters of oil and filled her up. I drove back to the office without incident. After work I drove a few miles to the local dealership. On the way there it started making some grumbly noises. At the dealership they reported finding some metal filings in the oil and said it was terminal.

I managed to get it back home, banging and clattering like a fork stuck in a garbage disposal, where it has sat, collecting dust in the garage.

That brings us to now -- The loan for it was bundled into a refi along with my wife's van and some random debt, so I'm still technically paying for it. I asked about getting the lien off the title, they said I could for $2k or so. I had the loan converted to a personal/signature loan from the earlier collateralized loan which I thought would release the title and help me get rid of it, but apparently that didn't happen.

So now I have this hunk of metal taking up space in the garage and no idea what to do with it. I've been told I could get a new engine put in it and sell it, but that seems like spending $2k to sell it for $2k and what's the point? I'd be just as well off pushing it off a cliff and waiting out the lien.

Other people describe these mythical mechanics who would love to snatch up a deal like this and fix it themselves. I don't think that actually happens, at least not for 2009 Hyundai Sonatas.

Other people recommended I commit insurance fraud, but that has some notable downsides.

My last resort is to just push it out into the middle of the street and hope the police tow it and then just ignore the mail about it.

Any better ideas?
posted by muddylemon to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjKREVqrFGk

Here's what it sounds like today
posted by muddylemon at 5:40 PM on May 26, 2016


I've heard they've cracked down on auto donation for charities, and I'm not sure if it would do anything if I don't have much in the way of tax exemptions?
posted by muddylemon at 5:41 PM on May 26, 2016


It's got *some* value with a blown engine, if only for salvage. Why not contact a salvage yard or two and get some idea of what they'll give you for it? They may tow it in for you as part of the deal, but if not - let's say they give you $500 (totally made up number) and towing costs $50 -- looks like you're up $450...

Not sure about the lien, but if they put a lien on the car as part of a total refi and the car has blown up, I'd contact them and see what happens now. It's not doing them any good sitting in your garage undrivable...
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:47 PM on May 26, 2016


Non-running cars are not going to get you $500 from a salvage yard. More like $50, maybe $100 if it's particularly desirable, less if they come and get it.
posted by kindall at 5:54 PM on May 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just junked two cars last fall that were beyond economic repair. I got USD50 for each, but they deducted USD75 from the total for towing them away.

Scrap prices are really low right now (unless things have changed since I last looked) presumably because of the slowdown in China. At least that's what I've heard people say.

Wish I could help with your lien predicament. No idea, and I'm curious what the easiest way around that is.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:52 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Try putting it on craigslist with a full description. Maybe some scrappers will give you an offer.
posted by captaincrouton at 6:55 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


The $2k you pay toward removing the lien goes toward your loan, doesn't it? If you want it out of your garage, that's the way. Maybe get a lawyer consult since the refi should have paid them.

It might be too late, but wouldn't comprehensive insurance pay for the damage? What did you have?
posted by flimflam at 7:43 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


The 2009 Sonata has a 10 year/100,000 mile power train warranty, which includes the engine. Is there more than 100,000 miles on the car? if not, I don't see why the dealer did not repair it under warranty.
posted by zsazsa at 7:45 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have sold dead cars for scrap. Put it on craigslist, or call your mechanic. You can probably expect to get a few hundred for it, which at least helps you dig out of the red.
posted by lunasol at 7:50 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Other people describe these mythical mechanics who would love to snatch up a deal like this and fix it themselves. I don't think that actually happens, at least not for 2009 Hyundai Sonatas.

My car is from 2004, not a sexy model, and is worth maybe $3,000. Every time I get it serviced, my mechanic reminds me that he'd be happy to take it off my hands, as they have a small resale program where they fix up cars and sell them. Unless you are short enough on time/cope that you don't want to deal with the Craigslist experience, offering it as is/where is might get you a few hundred.
posted by Candleman at 7:58 PM on May 26, 2016


If it's beyond the 100k/10 year warranty, put it on Craigslist for $2000 and see what happens. It's free to post, and you'll probably get a ton of interest, and maybe a few solid offers. There are a bunch of 2009 Sonatas on my local CL, all of which are in the 5000-6000 range. It's clearly worth much more than $50-100.
posted by Slinga at 8:01 PM on May 26, 2016


If you have the money to replace the engine, and can get it done for $2000, that would be my first choice. Then sell it for $3-5k. Otherwise, list it for $2k with an honest description of the problem (sounds like rod knock from the video). One other option is to part it out -- you'll get a lot more than the scrap value, but it takes a long time and is tedious. IANAL, but I think you'll probably want to pay off the loan before doing this.

If you do decide to just scrap it, I suggest using a temporary cell number when contacting car disposal services. I put my number in one company's online form and it took weeks for the calls to stop.
posted by bradf at 8:43 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


but that seems like spending $2k to sell it for $2k and what's the point?

Someone who can't afford more than a $2k car gets one?
posted by ctmf at 8:48 PM on May 26, 2016


As a point of reference, a new engine is likely to run $4-5k, not $2k. If the rest is in reasonably good shape, it looks like it'd be worth around $5-6k if it were functional again.
posted by Candleman at 9:06 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


but that seems like spending $2k to sell it for $2k and what's the point?

The point is that you would have it out of your garage, which is worth something, so you would be ahead.

But that assumes your numbers are correct, and my guess is that they are not, and that it will either make clear sense to sell the car as-is, or to fix it and then sell it.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:16 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


$1400 gets you a good low-mileage used engine for that car on eBay. Another $1000 - $1500 gets it installed. Unless the car is otherwise totally trashed, that's less than $3k to get it back up and running with a low-mileage engine. Take care of it and it'll keep running for years.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:26 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seconding (thirding?) Craigslist: I've gotten rid of a van and a motorcycle, both non-running boat anchors, for $200-$300 each within hours of posting it for Craigslist. Once I did take a conversion van to the junk yard and made a little over $100, based on weight, so the profit margin is higher on Craigslist.

Craiglist non-running listing tips:
  • take pictures of all sides, because if you only show one side then the buyer assumes the hidden side is smashed in.
  • Make sure to say they must bring their own trailer and/or help to get it on the trailer.
  • If you have the title (you better have the title), list it in the ad so they don't think they need to get a new salvage title, and write up a little bill of sale to make the transaction official (two copies, both of you sign both, they get acopy and you keep a copy)
  • Remove the listing immediately after selling, because apparently people who buy non-running cars on Craigslist are jerks and will be mean to you when you tell them it has already sold.
  • It's a seller's market, so don't feel pressured into giving a deep discount to the first person to show up with cash; there'll be another person along shortly who is more likely to pay what you want, if you've priced it reasonably

posted by AzraelBrown at 4:41 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


wouldn't comprehensive insurance pay for the damage?

No insurance will cover damage directly resulting from total lack of basic maintenance. The car ran completely out of oil, and that is entirely user error.

The engine is almost certainly not repairable, but at $1400 or so for a used one, it should be possible to clear enough money on it to make fixing and selling it worthwhile.
posted by Brockles at 6:28 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


$1400 gets you a good low-mileage used engine for that car on eBay. Another $1000 - $1500 gets it installed. Unless the car is otherwise totally trashed, that's less than $3k to get it back up and running with a low-mileage engine. Take care of it and it'll keep running for years.

Seconding or thirding that you don't need a NEW engine, you need a WORKING engine.

Here on Ebay, I found over 200 working used engines for a 2009 Sonata, priced between $500 and $3000. Sure, some are junk already (don't judge by asking price alone), some are probably missing parts you'll need, some are too far away from you. The point is that I found over 200 candidates on Ebay in three seconds, and you only need ONE. They are out there, and it's nearly always simpler and cheaper to replace a lunched engine than to repair it. People do this. Some mechanic near you can find a worthy candidate and install it for you.

Nor are you constrained to shop for it via Ebay or Cragslist. Junkyards were networked before the Internet existed and are to this day better connected than the average doctor's office.

Just to illustrate, in 1993 I needed a driveshaft for a 1978 Mercury Z7* in Michigan. I stopped by a local "auto parts recycler" and they didn't have one, but they found one "online" in Texas and a couple days later, I had it installed.

Someone has the engine you need for the price you can afford, someone can get it to you, and someone can install it for you.

It does not help that you let the vehicle sit for year before doing anything about it. Your tires are certainly down, you'll likely need a new battery, and running gear like brakes will need attention, all of which increases your total investment in reviving this jalopy.

Most car owners are more accustomed to the war of attrition -- fix this, then fix that, then fix something else -- than a big-bang repair like an engine replacement, but it's by no means an odd or complicated thing to do.

Incidentally, our newest vehicle is a 2009 (not Hyundai) and I expect to still be driving it until at least 2019.

"All cars run on used parts."
 
posted by Herodios at 7:01 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


My last resort is to just push it out into the middle of the street and hope the police tow it and then just ignore the mail about it.

You may want to review this AskMe thread.
Today I got a letter from [the state BMV] saying the car has been removed as abandoned . . . and I'm the last registered owner. The procedures in the letter are about either re-claiming the car and paying fees, or letting the state have it and then paying remainder fees if storage / removal costs are not recouped at auction.
posted by Herodios at 7:17 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


The engine blew on my 2002 Ford back in 2006. I'd just bought the car and there was no warranty on it, but I needed a car, so I had to fix it. Paid $3k to my garage for a low-mileage remanufactured engine and installation and I'm still driving the car today. Would you still drive the car if it was working? Or, as stated above, if 2009 Sonatas are selling for $5-6000 on Craigslist, if you fix yours, you could probably get that for it and then pay off the engine fix and take care of the lien.
posted by jabes at 8:27 AM on May 27, 2016


Thanks for all the answers - I feel a little less lost now.

I had one mechanic from Craigslist take an interest in it, but passed because of a some paint scratches, etc.

I don't plan on driving the Hyundai again. I bought a nicer car to replace it (I had actually talked about trading it in a week before this.)

As for how it got in that condition - the oil was changed 2 months before it went dry. I assume that means there was some sort of catastrophic valve failure or something like that.

I had a rod failure in my first car, a 1984 Ford Econoline van, I sold it to a guy who used it as a duck blind for the next decade.
posted by muddylemon at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2016


The easiest thing to do is to just put it up on Craigslist as a non-running car. AzraelBrown's advice is all good stuff. I've sold ruined cars before on Craigslist using a similar formula and it was pretty painless both times. It helped that I mostly just wanted to get rid of the cars and wasn't too concerned about how much money I got. I sold both of my junk cars for $200 and had them gone within two days each.

The lien is a separate issue. You're going to take a hit there. It's not going to be easy to unload a car with a garbage engine and who knows what other problems (whatever caused it to lose oil in the first place plus whatever non-engine damage was caused by the loss of oil plus whatever damage has been caused by leaving it sitting for a year) for over $2000, and yeah you could get the engine replaced but it'll be a hassle and then you're even further in the hole. Maybe you invest $3000 in replacing the engine and the value of the car goes up by $4000 as a result (or maybe not; I don't know but I feel like that's pretty optimistic) but then there's still a $1000 gap between the added value and the cost of getting rid of the lien. Was the original, ruined car worth more than that $1000 gap? I doubt it.

If you can afford to pay the lien off, I say just do it and then sell the car as painlessly as possible for whatever you can get for it. Maybe ask $500 on Craigslist for your ruined car. If it's at all possible, I think the least painful path here is to just take the financial hit, get rid of the car, and move on with your life.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:46 PM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


As for how it got in that condition - the oil was changed 2 months before it went dry. I assume that means there was some sort of catastrophic valve failure or something like that.

Not at all, it just ran out of oil and could have been either burning it (valve seal or piston rings issue) or just a leak or any minor issue. Not checking the oil in 2 months is asking for trouble. It got like that because you didn't check the oil often enough, there's no two ways about it. Hopefully other people reading this question and seeing how expensive it can be to put that basic maintenance off will be spurred to action. I can't imagine you'll do the same thing again!

The sound could be anything from a rod bearing failure to a hydraulic lifter failure or similar and/or worse. Basically, internally the engine is shot, but all the outer stuff is fine, so any junk engine would be perfect for that as long as it runs. All the external components are unlikely to be damaged.
posted by Brockles at 2:52 PM on May 27, 2016


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