When you’ve got a vehicle that doesn’t run or that you’ve already replaced with a better vehicle, it can feel like a dead end and many people don’t know what options are available to remove their junk car. Often, owners who encounter this dead end will choose one of two paths — they’ll either sit and let the car rust or they’ll take it to a junkyard.

Although these seem like the obvious answers, they aren’t the only ones. You can get a good price for your junk car if you know how to play the market and where to look — and once you’re fully informed you’ll have the security and confidence to sell your junk car for what you deserve.

Searching for a Seller

At first, it may seem tempting to just take the car to the nearest junkyard. These junkyards, which usually break the vehicles down for parts, will pay the vehicle’s worth in recyclable metals — but this value is usually significantly lesser than the vehicle’s true worth.

One of the most important unspoken rules for selling a junk car is simple — look in your local area rather than making your vehicle available nationally. The reasons for this are twofold: Firstly, you’ll want to be able to be present to sign over the title and any necessary documentation to insure the deal is legitimate. Secondly, junk cars commonly have trouble going long distances if they run at all, so taking on the responsibility of driving it to a buyer can be perilous.

A private buyer might be interested in your junk car for parts or because they’re planning on fixing it up — either way, these buyers are often a better choice if you have the option. If no one has shown interest in your area, however, there ARE resources to help get rid of your junk car.

A Short List of Sites to Use

  • DonationLine: This website offers both tips and tricks for getting the best price out of your car — rated with an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, you can trust DonationLine’s junk car service to get a quote and find a seller nationally. Unfortunately, these quotes aren’t always fully accurate, we’ll touch more on that later.
  • YouCallWeHaul: This resource is considered one of the most extensive as far as the procedure — once you’ve submitted a report about your vehicle, they’ll make an offer and then use their own towing service to pick the vehicle up. Be wary, however, that you might lose some money on the towing.
  • United Recyclers Group, LLC: Marketing itself as “by recyclers, for recyclers,” URG is a one-stop website intended for both car recyclers and junkyard owners looking for scrap parts. They’re mainly useful if you’re recycling junk cars regularly — for a person with one car to get rid of, the other resources are better.

Feeling Out Offers

Before you even start receiving offers, you should try and ascertain your vehicle’s value. In most cases, you won’t get a whole lot for a junk car —  but that doesn’t mean that you should take online quotes at their face value. Often, these quotes will take into account merely your vehicle’s year, make, and mileage. You’ll need to work with far more factors if you’re intending to sell it for a better price.

Let’s say, for example, that your junk car’s radiator is damaged. You don’t know the procedures to replace it, so you’ve decided to get rid of it. A new radiator typically costs between $150 and $900 dollars, and if the buyer can fix it for less and resell the whole car for a profit, it’s likely he or she will try to haggle low.

That said, don’t expect something in the range of what you’d get for a car that’s in tip-top shape. An unnecessarily high response to an offer can alienate a buyer and risk botching the transaction completely.

It can sometimes be helpful to take extensive pictures of the junk car while you’re marketing it to buyers — that way, both parties will be able to work with a full idea of the vehicle’s limitations and advantages.

Closing the Deal

Once you’ve agreed on a fair price, all that’s left to do is the paperwork. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to make sure you’re present when your car is sold — many junk cars are sold with minimal documentation because of their age and low prices, which can result in problems down the road.

Make sure that your title and vehicle registration are passed on to the buyer before you part. The exact level of documentation required varies by state.

Junk cars are sold every day in America, and oftentimes the prices they’re sold for are far under what they’re actually worth — don’t let stress and the need to sell your car fast drive you to make a rash decision. Instead, use these tips to make sure you get the best price for your vehicle.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.