How to Get Cash for Junk Cars

Like anything else, cars wear out over time. After a certain point, a car may be in such a poor state of repair that putting it back on the road seems like too large an investment in time and money. At this point, you might want to consider selling your old car as junk.

Junking a car isn’t quite as easy as it might seem. Rather than simply driving it down to a scrap yard, there is an entire process you’ll need to go through to make sure you’re acting in accordance with the laws of your state and to get the best possible price from your vehicle.

Following are the basics of what you need to know about scrapping an old car and making sure you get a decent amount of money out of it.

Preparing Your Car

Before you can sell your junk car to a scrap yard, you’ll need to make sure that you’re properly prepared. The first step you should take is to determine the value of your car when it was in good enough condition to drive. Using resources like Kelley Blue Book, you can get a reasonable estimate of what your car is worth in different condition grades. The reason you want to know this before junking your car is that it may actually make better financial sense to fix and sell it. If making the repairs necessary to get your car back on the road would cost $400, but it would become worth $1,000 over scrap price as a result, it clearly makes more sense to repair and sell the car. The decision isn’t always this clear but knowing the possible repaired value of your vehicle is still important.

Once you’ve decided that junking your car is the way you want to go, you’ll need to do a bit of research into your state’s laws on salvage and junk automobiles. Before you actually sell, you will more than likely need to go through a process to formally classify your car as a junked vehicle, which means it will no longer be registered for driving use on your state’s roads. In many cases, this process will involve turning in the license plates that are registered to your car. If you don’t know where to begin with this process, you can visit your local DMV or your state’s DMV website to learn what steps are involved.

Weighing Your Options

Once you’ve made the decision to junk your car and found out what paperwork you’ll need to complete before the final sale, it’s time to figure out exactly what outlet you’re going to use. This step is important, as simply taking the first offer you get from a scrap yard could leave a fair amount of money on the table. There are aggregate sites that use quotes from local scrap yards to give you a rough estimate of what your car is worth, but you’ll have to actually contact each scrap yard in your local area to get precise quotes.

You may also decide to part your car out. In many cases, even cars in poor condition have usable parts that other vehicle owners are willing to pay for. Before deciding to go down this road, you need to consider the overall value of your car’s spare parts. Do some research online and find out what salvaged parts from your particular make and model are selling for. If you decide that you can get more money by parting your car out, you’ll next need to find places to sell the parts you pull from it. One popular option is eBay, which serves as an exchange hub for many used car parts. You can also advertise on your local Craigslist page to find potential buyers in your own area.

Selling the Car

The final step in junking your car is, of course, to actually proceed with the sale of the car as a whole or its parts. Before you begin, you’ll need to put the research you did earlier to work. Turn in your license plates and complete whatever paperwork your state requires, and you’ll be free and clear to dispose of your car as junk. Then, you can get rid of your car in whichever way you see fit.

As a final note, don’t forget that there may be a transportation cost built into the process of selling your car. Generally, you’ll be responsible for arranging to have your junk car towed to the scrap yard. The cost for this service won’t be too bad, but it will eat into the money you get from your car. If one of the yards you talk to is willing to arrange towing at its own expense, be sure to factor the value of this service into your decision of which scrap yard is actually offering you the best price for your junk car.

Paul Brennan / Shutterstock

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