Parting with a diesel Beetle -- best options?
December 10, 2017 9:54 AM   Subscribe

We have a 2006 TDI Volkswagen Beetle with more than 200,000 miles on it. Recently its power steering pump died, and the cost to replace it doesn't seem worth it. Should we repair the car and then try to sell it, sell it as-is for a reduced price, or donate the vehicle? What's the best channel to sell a vehicle?

Our mechanic also tells us its turbo needs to be replaced. Looking around Google for sales data, it seems that the cost to repair them both will be roughly the amount for which we could expect to sell the car. Also, we have noted that used diesel Beetles tend to be hard to come by. We could sell it for a low price to offset the cost of repairs, or sell it as a parts car, but I have no experience selling vehicles. I have only traded vehicles in previously. We want to part with it in the most efficient way possible. Advice is welcome, thanks!
posted by Gelatin to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
It's likely that a car that old, with that many miles, with broken power steering, is not worth anything on the open market. I suspect your best price will be to either:
  • Sell it to your mechanic. A decent number of mechanics repair cars on the side and resell them, or else know other mechanics that do. If you have a good relationship with your mechanic, it's worth asking, especially for a not-so-common car.
  • Sell it to a junk yard. This one is easy - just call all the junk yards in the area. They'll make an offer on the phone. Pick the one that's highest. They'll pick up the car and leave you with a check.
No dealership is going to be interested in such a car. If they express interest, they're lying - they'll just correspondingly sell it to a junk yard and offer you a portion of what they got (or maybe offer you more than what it's worth and then increase the cost of the new car correspondingly). I don't consider it ethical to sell used cars without disclosing known defects, and I don't think anyone will buy a car without power steering.
posted by saeculorum at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Put an add on Craigslist, half or less of blue book.

“200k Miles, runs good. Parts or fixer upper, serious inquiries only”

Nobody buys a very cheap car that “runs good” without a good idea of what’s up.

If that doesn’t work, fall back to junkyard or donate/scrap.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Put it on Craigslist. It'll sell if it's cheap enough.

For whatever it's worth, a new power steering pump for that car appears to be $70 on eBay. I don't know how bad the labor is to install one, but there are probably local shade-tree mechanics who can install it pretty cheaply.
posted by Slinga at 12:14 PM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would still try to trade it in. That's what I did with my 12-year-old Forester, which wouldn't pass inspection without repairs that would cost as much as the Blue Book value. The dealer gave me that amount for trade-in. He could repair it for a lot less than I would have had to pay, and the car was in good shape except for the broken bit.

It's worth checking out.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:52 PM on December 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Try listing it on an enthusiast forum like TDIClub or VWVortex.
posted by Seeking Direction at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you want to make a donation to your local NPR station, there's always the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program. That's how I rid myself of a 1999 junker of a Chevy Malibu a few years ago.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:30 PM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Prices for that car seem to be about $5-6K that I can find. A turbo is about $1000 and a power steering pump is less than $100. The maths here doesn't add up. It's not $4k in labour to repair that.

Is there more to the repair story and you have summarised? Because unless you are paying dealer prices (which is completely unnecessary) there is no way the stated repairs even come to half of the resale price from what is listed here.
posted by Brockles at 9:48 AM on December 11, 2017

I had a 2002 TDI beetle and the turbo pressure valve gizmo is probably carbonized and stuck -- you can repair it for a while with Ez-Off oven cleaner -- which is basically Alien blood ( I still have the holes in my concrete garage where it dripped on the floor). Cost only $9 and a few years off my life expectancy. :-)

Some TDI models have boutique resale value because they can be run on Biodiesel B100 (pure 100%) and some folks are into that. I think 2006 or so was the last model to do that. Check your local hippie community?
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:45 PM on December 11, 2017

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