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Moving on from a well-loved vehicle can be hard. But when your car needs significant repairs, it might make sense to sell it for parts instead.
Cars can be one of the most expensive items you’ll own in your lifetime. Maybe yours reached an early demise due to an accident, or maybe you’ve just driven it as far as it could go.
If your car isn’t running or worth much in its current condition, you may find more value in selling it for parts or scrap metal than in keeping it going for transportation.
Should I sell my car for parts — or fix it?
Determining whether you should sell your car for parts comes down to math and a bit of common sense. If you’re emotionally attached to your car — a common feeling if you’ve had your vehicle awhile — try, at least for now, to set that aside.
Price out the repairs you need
First, get a couple of quotes to see how much it would cost to fix your car to the point where you can drive it again or sell it, either to a car dealership or to a private buyer. Be sure to check out whether your state or municipality has additional requirements around selling a car with a salvage title, if your car has one.
Do the math and think about your situation
Once you have that number, evaluate whether you’re ready — or able — to purchase a new vehicle.
Edmunds recommends considering a new car if the repairs you need cost more than half the value of your vehicle, or if its repairs are becoming more frequent and putting you in a potentially unsafe situation. For example, if your car is worth just $5,000 but the repair will cost $3,000, it might not be worth repairing.
How and where to sell your car for parts or junk
If you’ve decided that selling your car for parts is your best option, you have several ways to go.
First, though: Make sure you have a “clean” title. You’ll need to sign this document over to the person or company you sell your car to in order to transfer ownership. The definition of clean title can vary by state, but it typically means there aren’t liens or legal claims against the vehicle and it doesn’t have salvage title. If your car has salvage title, there are additional rules you’ll need to follow.
Call junkyards or salvage yards in your area to get quotes for how much they’d pay for your car in its current condition. Some may even offer to come pick up your car. You can also advertise to sell your car to private parties online, if it meets the requirements to be sold in your state and municipality.
You have more options if you’re willing to take parts out of the car yourself. To do this, you’ll need the tools and skills to remove individual parts from your car safely. After you’ve removed each part, you can take pictures of them and list them for sale online.
The first way you might consider selling your car parts is through a website with forums dedicated to your car’s specific make and model. This way, you can focus your efforts on buyers looking for parts from the kind of car you have. For instance, Saturn Sky car owners may want to list parts on SkyRoadster.com and Honda Odyssey owners could sell parts on OdyClub.com.
Large and heavy parts will probably be most cost effective to sell locally, on sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, because of shipping costs. That said, small items may fetch a higher price if listed on national websites.
How to get a fair price for individual car parts
Getting what you think is a fair price for your junk car or car parts can be difficult if you don’t know their value. For that reason, it makes sense to look up the prices of used parts for your specific car’s year, make and model. Search online for a few places that offer used car parts, and take a look at the pricing for parts you believe you can sell.
After you’ve researched prices, make a detailed listing of the parts you want to sell. Make sure they’re clean and take pictures from multiple angles to show the true condition of the part you’re selling. Once your listing is complete, post the part for sale on multiple websites or put it up for auction on a site like eBay Motors.
Should I consider my time as a cost if deciding to sell parts of my car myself?
Absolutely. Every hour you spend dismantling your car, cleaning, listing and taking pictures of the parts you have for sale may be one less hour you can spend doing something else, including working to save for another car.
So be sure to assign a reasonable value to your time when considering whether it makes more sense to part out a car yourself or sell your junk car as a whole.
Selling your car for parts can be a smart money move if the value of the parts is worth more than the value of your car as transportation. And you could make even more money if you’re able to sell the parts yourself.
That said, selling off your car’s parts individually can take a lot longer than selling your car as a whole to someone (or to a junkyard) for its parts. If you’re in a rush and need the money to purchase a replacement car as soon as possible, it may make more sense to take a smaller payout but get the cash faster by selling your car in one piece for its parts.