Thinking About Selling Your Car for Parts? Consider This Instead:

March 26, 2017

We’re always trying to find ways to live more responsibly, whether it comes down to our diet and exercise habits or our personal finances. In many of these cases, we determine success by the attitude with which we approach our challenges—but sometimes, a bit of good old-fashioned research is even more effective.


Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to selling a used vehicle. If your old car is in pretty good shape, maybe this isn’t such a headache for you—after all, it’s not hard to find someone in the classifieds who will take a used car in good condition off your hands for a decent amount of money. If you have a car that doesn’t run or one that’s suffered damage in an accident, however, you might be dealing with an entirely different can of worms. Finding a buyer for a run down or damaged car can be a real pain, especially with local governments throughout America cracking down on “junk cars”, but don’t worry—it is possible.

Some of you might have considered dismantling your car and selling the working parts individually. There are certainly enough people out there who try this every year to make it worth mentioning. However, attempting to sell your car for parts is way more complicated than the average person realizes, and not too many people have the skills, time, required equipment, knowledge, or negotiating skills to make it profitable. Put simply; it’s almost always a waste of time to sell a car for parts.


That’s not to say that you can’t get a decent amount of money for a car that doesn’t run anymore. You should just be careful and realistic about it. We’re going to evaluate a few of the most common ways in which people sell their old vehicles so that you can avoid a disappointing return or a wild goose chase the next time you have a clunker you want to exchange for cash.


Selling Vs. Trading In: What You Need to Know


A lot of people who can’t easily find buyers for old or wrecked cars turn to trade-ins, but this can be a tricky road to navigate. The problem is that trading in your vehicle often comes with a variety of restrictions that may prevent the deal you get from being valuable. Let’s examine this:


Take the concept of a push, pull or drag sale, where dealerships will offer a flat amount of money for any car you want to trade. While this might seem attractive at first (especially if your car is beaten up to the point where it’s worth much less than their offer), the catch is this: you’ll almost always have to put the credit they give you towards the purchase of a brand-new vehicle. We’re guessing that you aren’t reading this article because you already have a ton of disposable income, so this probably isn’t going to be your best bet. After all, if you could easily afford a $20,000 new car, why would you stress out about getting a couple of grand for your old one?


Of course, you might be able to find places that will accept a trade-in under less specific terms, but this will require your car to be in decent working condition. The same goes for those of you thinking about selling your car to a used car dealership—the truth is that it’s not a realistic way to proceed for those of you whose cars are, for one reason or another, in obvious disrepair. The best solution, in that case, is generally to sell it for salvage value.


What is Salvage Value?


A car’s salvage value is the amount of money that would be left over if you subtracted the cost of necessary repairs from its current value (“necessary repairs” here means any repairs that would be required to make the vehicle roadworthy again). Buyers for salvage cars are few (and getting fewer), but some places will still buy them—even when the cars have no salvage value, such as older vehicles that would require repairs more expensive than their current market prices. For sellers, this is an easier way to go than trying to dismantle your car and sell individual parts with nothing more than a layman’s understanding of mechanics. No matter what you try, remember—there’s a market for everything. You just need to find it.