What To Do With A Dead Car

Woman in a white shirt leaning over the open hood of a white car

If you’ve ever had that sinking feeling in your stomach, you know how it can feel – you’re cruising along the highway and suddenly smoke starts pouring out from under the hood and your vehicle crawls to a stop. One tow truck and a mechanic visit later and your worst fears are confirmed – your beloved car is dead.

This can happen for any number of reasons and, for many drivers, is simply the death knell for their vehicle. Many plan to ditch the old beater and move on to their next new vehicle, but this can often leave them with the question of what to do with the used, dead car taking up space in the driveway.

“Can I sell my car today for cash?” you may be asking, “Or is it just worthless now?” Most give up and send their car to the scrapyard, never to see the light of day again – but not you, you industrious individual, you. This is the perfect opportunity to stare fate in the eyes and laugh by using your dead vehicle constructively, while possibly making a little money toward your next vehicle in the process.

Got a dead beater sitting around and don’t know what to do with it? Here’s a quick rundown on your options as an owner for what you can do to make your dead used car work for you.


Try And Repair What’s Wrong

For the especially industirous out there, it may make sense to simply repair the problem – even if it’s a major one. The obvious first question to ask is whether the value of your vehicle – even when in perfect condition – even reaches the cost of repairs. If it’s going to cost more to get the car running than you could make by selling the car in working condition, then it’s probably not worth going through with the fix. If, however, you stand to make something with the car in working order, it may be worthwhile to give it a shot.

If you’re the handy type with all the right equipment and the knowledge of how to fix your vehicle, by all means get to work yourself and see if you can fix the problem. For the rest of us, a quick visit to the mechanic should be enough to diagnose the problem to a specific issue. From there, the mechanic can try to repair whatever the problem may be, with some jobs requiring specialized equipment that the amateur mechanic just doesn’t have. When all is said and done, your vehicle should be in good working order – meaning your dead car problem is now solved, and you’re free to either keep the vehicle for yourself or try to sell it and put the money toward a new car. Either way, you’ll be glad your beloved beater is back on its feet after a near-death experience.


Sell It, As-Is

For those not looking to put in the repair work or for whom making the full repair simply wouldn’t be worth it, there is always the option of trying to find a collector or amateur mechanic looking for a project upon whom to offload your dead car as-is. Many home mechanics, especially collectors and those with an eye for rare vehicles, love to take on fixer projects like a dead car and might even be willing to pay for it.

If you’re sitting on a dead vehicle and can’t afford repairs, simply put out an ad clearly stating that the vehicle doesn’t run – but not before listing all the positive aspects of what does work on the car. If literally everything but the transmission is perfectly operational, there’s a good chance that someone may want to take it as a weekend project – meaning less worry for you and more cash in your pocket for what could have just gone off to be crushed at the scrap yard.


Try To Scrap For Parts

Of course, not everyone is going to find a buyer so willing to pay for a vehicle that isn’t in working order. Many times, the owner of a dead car is left with no way to repair and no interested buyers, and might seriously be considering just scrapping the whole thing. But why let the scrap yard make all the profit off of your vehicle’s working parts when you too could gut and disassemble your old vehicle in order to sell each part separately?

With just a little technical know-how and a few tools you might need for the job, you can actually take a part your dead vehicle and salvage the parts that still work for later resale to those in the market for individual elements. A lot of people are looking for parts like doors and hoods, which can take a lot of dents and abuse on the road, while others still might be in the market for a working transmission, a specific kind of hose or fitting, or something as simple as the steering wheel. There’s definitely money to be made by scrapping what’s left for individual sale, and by not doing so you may just be throwing money in the trash.


Give It Away

When all else fails but you simply can’t bear to see your beloved old beater crushed into a useless cube, there’s still one more option left to the desperate – or more humanitarian – owners out there: simply giving it away. Many charities exist around the country that accept old or used cars, even those that don’t run anymore, for a variety of purposes. Whether they too will simply scrap the car for parts or try to repair it and give it to a veteran, an underprivileged family, or just someone in need is up to them – but you can rest easy knowing the car that was just taking up space in your driveway is now being used for a good cause.


So whatever the reason for your vehicle’s untimely death, there’s simply no reason to admit defeat and just send it off to the scrapyard. With just a little effort and the right know-how, you can make that dead car work for you in its afterlife, or at the very least, let somebody else do it for you. Either way, you’ll be putting your dead car to good use, and we’re all bound to be a little better off because of it.