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How to Sell a Junk Car Easily

junk car abandoned on a farm

How to Get the Most Money When You Sell Your Junk Car

Maybe it’s your beloved rusty ride from high school, or your trusty old commuter car that requires one major repair too many. Whatever the cause, you’re stuck with a junk car and you need to sell it.

At Carfax, we’re focused on vehicle data, and we know how a car’s condition and history affect its value, even one that’s ready for the junkyard. We help millions of people every day buy or sell the right car at the right price.

What can you do with a car that doesn’t run, or a vehicle that seems too worn out to be of any value? How can you make sure you get the maximum amount of cash for your junk car? Let’s examine the steps you should take, and your options.

junk car abandoned on a farm

Photo Credit: digidreamgrafix / Getty

Before You Sell

Use these simple Carfax tips. You’ll save a lot of hassle and potential headaches, and you’ll put more money into your own pocket:

  • First, know the car’s true value: This might seem silly when talking about a “junk car,” but you could be surprised by how much your old vehicle is worth. By using the Carfax History-Based Value tool, you can accurately estimate what your car is really worth. Take just a few seconds to input your vehicle’s information, and you could put lots of money back into your wallet.
  • Get the paperwork in order: Make sure you have the car title and other necessary paperwork ready for a sale. (If you have a salvage title or rebuilt title, make that clear to the buyer.) Check with your state’s DMV to see what’s required. A reputable junk car buyer will want proof that you actually own the car, after all. Making sure the title is transferred, a release of liability is signed, and the plates are removed from the vehicle (and returned to a local DMV office, if required) are important steps.

Selling a Junk Car With No Title

If you don’t have a title for the car, check out our article on replacing a lost car title.

What Are Your Options for Selling a Junk Car?

  • Carfax Sell My Car service: Depending on the condition of the vehicle, you may be able to get a quick cash offer for your car by using the Carfax Sell My Car service. When you use Carfax Sell My Car, dealers compete to offer you the best deal for your old ride.
  • Going the junkyard route: Know how and where you want to sell your junk car. A scrapyard could give you an honest price, except a non-running car would need to be towed there. That could take extra time and cost you money. Reputable junk car buyers should include the price of any towing into their overall value estimate. There are plenty of companies to choose from online, so it’s smart to get at least two quotes to make certain the final price is fair.
  • Donate to charity? This may appeal to some folks as a noble cause, not to mention that it’s a handy tax write-off. Depending on where you live and your car’s value, you might want to chat with a tax advisor in advance to see if there are money-saving benefits to donating your car. Keep in mind that not all charities are as charitable as they might seem. If you want to give to a good cause, getting cash for your junk car and donating money directly to a charity of your choosing might be most effective.

Before You Hand Over the Keys

Once you’ve gotten a firm grasp on where and how you’d like to sell your junk car, there’s more work to be done. Just because you’ve shaken hands on a deal doesn’t mean you should quickly walk away. Take a little extra time to ensure that everything’s in order:

  • Check inside for valuables. Remember that once your car is gone, it’s gone forever. Check throughout the interior and in the trunk for anything you want to hold onto. Once you hand over the keys and title, those precious Journey cassettes in the glovebox are gone, too.
  • Get the cash, then hand over the keys: Make sure you have the agreed-upon money before you hand over the car. Don’t get tricked into accepting a lower price than what was agreed to, either. If the buyer suddenly wants to charge extra fees or pay less for the vehicle, walk away. Keep in mind that many of the companies that specialize in buying junk cars operate on a cash basis. Make sure you get it without any hassles or caveats that it’ll be handed over only once they have the vehicle.
  • Customizations can be worth money: If you’re checking the car for small mementos you want to take home, make certain you’re also considering larger and pricier items. Customizations you might have made to the vehicle could be worth added cash, if sold separately. A junk car company probably won’t have any use for an aftermarket stereo, or a set of upgraded alloy wheels. If you put cash into your car or truck, make sure you’re getting some of it back should your vehicle be headed to that final scrapyard in the sky.

Need a new car after you sell your old one? Head over to our Used Car Listings page. Every car there comes with a free Carfax Vehicle History Report.

If you have questions about this story, please contact us at Editors@carfax.com