For sale: Dead car. Not very pretty. Perfect for target practice.
April 12, 2008 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Can I sell this car? And how?

That car that's been sitting in my driveway for seven years? I'd like to get rid of it. I know I could donate it, but I'd prefer to try to make a couple hundred bucks off of it.

The details: It's a 1988 Sentra. It's been sitting for so long that it's not running, but it was running fine when I parked it. It had a complete valve job before I stopped driving it. I'm in CA, but it's never been registered here.

I don't imagine anyone would buy it to drive (nor would I encourage them to), but it's got some junk value, no? (Especially with the new valves?)

My first question, I guess, is will anyone buy it? Two, how much should I ask for? (KBB value is approximately $900.) Three, how do I best word a Craigslist ad to attract the type of person who wants to chop my car into pieces?

Many thanks.
posted by mudpuppie to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Does it have a clean title? An auto salvage yard might pay $100 for it, and haul it away for free. Call around and check.
posted by TDIpod at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2008

The best thing to do is to try and start it - a running car is worth a lot more than one just for parts.

For parts, the valve work is worth precisely nothing in terms of extra value. 7 years of sitting may mean the engine has deteriorated more in other areas )or even on the new parts. If it ran, mind you, you stand to be able to suggest the engine is in good order. CA is notoriously easy on cars in the long term. I'd spend some time trying to get it started, if it were me.

As a seven year abandoned car, it isn't worth anything like $900. If it runs fine, it would be, and I suppose you can theoretically spend around $500 on it to make that happen and still get some money back, but it's a risk (and a sizeable one, I think).
posted by Brockles at 1:14 PM on April 12, 2008

You could try putting an ad on Craigslist or in the paper, giving the details and asking $200. I see cars for sale here like that, from $50 up to $500 (but no non-running 1988 Sentra is worth $500); I assume some of them must sell sometimes. You are hoping that to find the person with an almost running project car who wants your car to cannibalize for parts, or who already has a parts car and figures on getting your car running. If it doesn't sell, you are out only the cost of the ad, so it's not like there is much of any risk in it for you.

And, have you considered putting in a new battery and fresh gas, and seeing if it starts? As has been said, a running car is worth far, far more than a non-running car.
posted by Forktine at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2008

Siphon out the gas and put in about 5 gallons of fresh gas. You can get a 5 gallon gas can pretty readily. Check the oil, and add some if needed. If you start itwith the old gas, you could plug the fuel filter. Siphoning the gas will probably leave behind some gunk, but adding as much new gas as you can should at least dilute things a bit and might prevent big chunks of sludge from attacking the filter all at once.

Top off the fluids. Then, try and jump start it before investing in a new battery. Note that some parts will be dry, so you don't want to put any stress on the engine at all right away, if it indeed starts. Let it idle for a while, keeping an eye on the temperature. If it seems like it's at least running, you should get an inexpensive battery. Getting the fluids changed might not be a bad idea, but the most important thing is that it starts and drives for anyone who wants to look at it. Even though a battery can be gotten for under $50, without one it may not sell for anything more than scrap.

Good luck.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Your last resort is going to be a Pick 'n' Pull, so you may as well call them and get a quote for how much they'll give you for it delivered, and towed.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:42 PM on April 12, 2008

Seconding TDIpod -- you don't have a car, you have a big lump of scrap metal. You could call a scrap yard and get, say $100, for it right away. Or you can put a bunch of work into selling it and eventually get something like $200.
posted by winston at 2:42 PM on April 12, 2008

I don't know if they do it in your country, but some charities in Canada (The Kidney Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, etc) will come and pickup your car, give you a chartiable donation receipt (for taxes) for $50-100, and then do whatever they do to make money off it. I did that with a completely non-functional 20 year old car and got $50 and free disposal.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:19 PM on April 12, 2008

If you don't need the money, you might consider donating it to a vocational school as a project vehicle, then you can take KBB off your taxes.

When I lived in New Jersey, the local fire departments routinely did classes in "light extrication" whereupon they taught students how to dismantle a wreck and get a victim out of it. I don't know if you can find that where you are. My California experience was in an area that didn't do a lot in terms of civic training activities.
posted by plinth at 5:07 PM on April 12, 2008

I had my car picked up by Purple Heart, who then auction it for as much as they can. I can take a $500 tax deduction for the donation, or if they sell it for more than $500, they will send me a receipt for the amount they sold it for, and use that for the tax deduction.

I may have been able to actually sell the car for $500 (it was running, but needed some work), but the fact that somebody just came and picked it up and left me with no hassles was worth it to me.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:07 PM on April 12, 2008

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