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A guide to selling a worn-out vehicle

You might love your car – it doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new Ferrari, or the same beat-up Toyota your grandfather gave you when you first started driving – but sooner or later, that love affair will fade, most probably when the car breaks down or fails its warrant of fitness. If all your sentimental feelings have left you, you need to find a way to get rid of your junk car. Here we’re going to explore your options and the means to sell or repurpose a car that doesn’t work anymore.

Sell it as-is

In any country, there will be many companies that will purchase a broken vehicle. These are often called vehicle wreckers or breakers and they will break down your car, sell the good parts on and scrap the rest. If you’re looking for somebody to sell broken cars to, a quick Google search around your area can probably find somebody willing to take it off your hands. The main complication of getting rid of your car is the fact that it doesn’t work. How are you going to get it off your property without an expensive tow? More often than not, they leave the contract with a towing company or pick it up themselves. Call or email ahead and ask what their available services are. Make sure the documents are ready, and the title is as clean as it can get. There should be no money owing on the vehicle as technically that would mean it’s still owned by the finance company or lender.

Trade-in

If you’re looking to get a new car, there are companies that will accept a nonworking vehicle as a trade-in; they’re basically forgoing some of their profit to make the sale. The issue will be the extreme likelihood of the dealerships lowballing you as your car is a liability for them – it’s only worth what they can get for it at the wreckers. They know that they can give you less than half of what you would normally be able to get with anybody else. The advantage they have is the car that you want to buy. If lowering your monthly payments is more important than the cash on hand for the down payment, this is definitely an option for you. If you prefer to have the cash as soon as possible, or you’re not looking to get a new car, this might not be the right one for you.

Sell it for parts 

In this option, you are the wrecker. Lots of people like to rebuild classic car models from scratch. It’s a passion that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world share and one that, if you have a car which is slightly desirable, might net you more cash in bits than in one piece. Do some research on the model and parts that you have, and put it out there that you’re willing to let people take the parts that they want for a fee. You may end up with a number of parts (sometimes large ones) that won’t sell, but you may be able to hawk these off to a metal recycler.

Use the parts yourself

If you buy the same make and model of car, you can keep your old car for donor parts. In some cases, you’ll end up giving a car away for just a few hundred dollars, but the tyres alone could be worth more than that. It’s very common for collectors or enthusiasts of unreliable vehicles (usually older European and British models) to have a donor car.

Race it

Demolition derby can be a lot of fun. All you need is a car you don’t care about and an unhealthy lack of self-preservation and you could smash your way to a multi-hundred dollar prize purse.

Use it for something else

How many old cars are used as chicken coups, paddock hacks for teenage kids or inadvertent garden ornaments? Plenty. That old van might substitute as some convenient storage.

There are many ways you can deal with a non-running car. The most important part is that you take care of the issue as soon as you can. You don’t want to be another individual who got too busy with everything else and a beat-up rust bucket on the front lawn.

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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