Sell Your Car Instead of Calling a Junkyard: Here’s Why

Vintage blue, rusted truck in the grass


When you start thinking about getting a great used vehicle at your local buy here, pay here dealer but need something to do with your old car, you might be inclined to call a junkyard. That’s understandable. Why wouldn’t you? It’s almost an instant and effortless way to make a few bucks on a car that wouldn’t sell; or, would it? Unless your car is a complete pile of junk, there is no reason to sell it to a junkyard. Even if it’s rusty and the engine and transmission are messed up, you can still make some decent money off it. If that’s the case, part it out instead. You will make more money doing that then you would selling it to a junkyard. After your car has been stripped, then you can sell it to a junkyard.

You could even sell it privately for a cheap price, or trade it in to the dealer for a new car. The point is, use a junkyard as a last resort; because, you won’t make nearly as much money. Here’s a description of each option, and why selling it (no matter which way you pick) instead of  junking it is more beneficial.


Sell it Privately Listed “As-Is”

Selling privately might take some work, but it’s by far the most lucrative of the three. You’d be surprised what someone might be looking for. However, this option requires some patience. If you are able to stand looking at your car sitting in your yard, then it’s worth it.

With that said, in order for this to pay off you need to start with an honest ad online. List all the flaws of your vehicle, even if there is something seriously wrong with it, and label it “as-is.” This indicates you understand there are problems with it, and don’t plan on fixing anything up if someone asks. Now, you are probably wondering why someone would want a car that has something seriously wrong with it?

Well, there are two answers to that. The first is, because of the price (which we will get to a little later), but for now it’s important to talk about the type of audience selling a used vehicle privately targets; the type of people who buy used cars online typically have automotive prowess.

They know what they are looking for, and they know how to work on cars. That means if you set the right price when targeting this type of audience, someone is bound to come looking. They will know the value of this car better than you do, and take it off your hands to fix it up and use as a daily driver, or sell it for a profit. Keep in mind, it might take a little time, but they’ll come around.

Now, the price, which is almost as important as an honest ad. Look up what your car is worth in good condition, and then lower the price accordingly. For example, a consumer was selling his ten year old 2003 Ford Focus a couple years back. The AC compressor was broken, driver-side window didn’t roll down, and the engine threw a rod. It was listed for $1,500 in good condition, and it was obviously far from good condition. Therefore, he set it for $700 and listed it “as-is.”

He sold it in less than a week, and multiplied what he would have received from a junkyard by at least double. Will you be as lucky? Maybe, maybe not. But, if you have patience, place an honest ad, and set the right price, it’s highly likely someone will bite.


Trade It In to the Dealer

Selling it privately not working? Try trading it in for value towards a new car. This option might not put cash in your pocket, but it’s perfect if you are thinking of getting a new car.

Most dealerships don’t care if the car is broken down, they will still take it. Go talk to the dealership, and see what they are offering you for trade-in value. You might be surprised by what you get towards the price of a new vehicle, and it’s almost just as quick as taking it to a junkyard. Therefore, if you absolutely need the car out of your yard tomorrow, then go with this option.

Granted, this is more situational, but ideal if you are planning on getting a new car. 


Part It Out

If that doesn’t work, don’t call a junkyard. There are still a couple more things to try. Your car has been up on Craigslist for over a month, and you haven’t even had anyone e-mail you; where do you go from here? Simple, try parting it out. This is another way to make some decent money, and you’ll want to list your parts on eBay.

Even if you can barely hold a screwdriver, don’t worry too much about it. There are parts on a car that you can still take off. If you have a manual and a little know-how, there are even more parts you can strip.

For example, the mirrors, steering wheel, instrument cluster, cd player/radio, wheels/tires, headlights/tail lights, and even the center console can all be sold for a decent price. Those are the easier ones, and with a manual you can sell things like automatic window motors, alternators, fluid containers, and basically anything else you can take off.

These all sound like odd ball pieces to remove, but they are ones people typically need. Also, it helps your cause that getting parts from a dealer is much more expensive than buying them on eBay. Just make sure the parts work, clean them up, take good pictures, and set a little below the average asking price.

This way, even if your car didn’t sell, you are still able to rake in some dough. The best part? You can find a junkyard (or scrap yard) after that will take your car and give you a little money for it. Now instead of just getting say $100 from the junkyard, its $100 from the junkyard plus whatever parts you sold.



Now that we’ve explored the different options, let’s talk about the reasons why a junkyard is the last resort. In terms of “selling” your car, this is the least lucrative, and should only be reserved for cars that have no hope. The way it works is you call them, and they come look at your car and pick it up. They’ll typically leave you anywhere between $100-$200 dollars for your used vehicle, and then haul it off with a tow truck. Granted, it varies because the price is based on the vehicle’s make, year, model, mileage, condition, size, and weight; but it’s not that much for a used car.

Apart from the low price, there are some junkyards that operate on a sketchy level. Just look up the numerous stories about the junkyards picking up vehicles and “leaving a check” somewhere while you are at work. While you could probably get it taken care of, it’s just an added hassle you don’t need.

Why go through this type of trouble when you could just sell it privately, trade it in, part it out, and make more than the typical $100-$200 they will give you for your car? In most cases, you will get way more by privately selling a car that still runs than by calling a junkyard. Only consider this option if you’ve parted it out or your car is a total wreck.