Three years ago, I bought a car by myself for the first time – and I made a huge mistake. Within three weeks of owning my 2002 Jeep Liberty, the steering column locked, my key wouldn’t turn, and the whole steering wheel assembly had to be replaced. That was only the beginning.
Two years, four tows, and six major repairs later, I had replaced the coolant tank, radiator, and water pump. And that is what I would fix. The AC was busted, the interior lights wouldn’t turn on, and both back windows wouldn’t roll down. But I kept driving it until, not 24 hours after one of its many repair jobs, it belched a plume of blue smoke and died in a parking lot.
The engine was shot. The tow truck driver said I should go to a junk yard and scrap it for $200, but I got a lot more than that — $1,200. And I didn’t have to go anywhere.
I sold that piece of crap online, with almost no effort on my part. Here’s how to sell your junk car online…
Is it really junk?
In my case, the decision was easy, but if you aren’t sure what’s really wrong with your car, take it to a mechanic before you sell it. Most won’t charge for a diagnosis.
If the problem is fixable, you’ll probably make more money by making the repairs, then selling your car to an individual through sites like Craigslist, AutoTrader.com, or eBay. If the problems are too numerous to list, or you don’t feel comfortable selling it to someone else, you have a junk car on your hands.
Selling online vs. in person
Junk yard, scrap metal buyers, and some auto mechanics will buy your car in person, but the prices can vary wildly. In my area, I called three junk yards, all with different prices: $200, $500, and $650. If you do decide to sell your car in person, you’ll have to pay for transportation if your car isn’t drivable, which will eat into your bottom line.
Online buyers work a bit differently. Typically, these buyers operate nationally. When you make a deal either online or over the phone, they’ll tell a local affiliate who contacts you to arrange a pickup time. In most cases, they’ll cover the cost of towing your vehicle.
Getting a quote
To make sure you’re getting the best deal, request quotes from at least three different companies. I used:
To get an accurate quote, you’ll need to know the make, model, and year of your car, as well as its condition. Since many junk cars are bought for parts, you’ll get a better price for having working parts like:
• Intact windows, doors, and body panels
• Working interior components like the radio, heat and A/C, and airbags
You’ll also net a higher price if the exterior of the car is in decent shape with no major dents or paint damage. Prices also vary throughout the month. I was originally quoted $100 less, but when I went to finalize the sale two weeks later, the price had increased.
Finalizing the deal
In my case, selling a junk car was easy. Since I ended up getting the highest offer from Peddle, I accepted the offer online, and my car was out of my driveway in three days. Here’s the process:
1. Accept an offer either over the phone or by completing an online form.
2. Enter in your VIN number and title information and select a pickup range.
3. The local dealer calls you within two business days to arrange pickup.
4. During your appointment, you hand over your title, sign the sales slip, and you’re done.
Overall, I spent about an hour getting quotes for my car and about 20 minutes setting up an appointment to sell it. Everyone I spoke with was nice and professional.
When the tow-truck driver arrived to pick up my car, all I had to do was back out of the driveway (best I could). He took the title, and I had everything filled out in five minutes. Best of all, he gave me a check right there. In less time that it took me to write this, I’d sold my car and made $1,200.
Make sure you’re getting the best deal
Overall, I’d recommend using an online buyer if you have a junk car to sell, but be wary. In my hunt to find a good deal, I came across some suspicious sites and offers. To make sure you’re getting a fair shake:
• Look for free towing: The majority of reputable companies I found offered free towing. If someone is trying to upsell you into paying for their towing service, look elsewhere.
• Look for a guarantee: The company I used guaranteed my offer, meaning the price couldn’t change once the local affiliate came to pick up my car. In fact, my vehicle wasn’t even inspected.
• Check for an address and contact number: Make sure any company you contact online has a physical presence listed somewhere, preferably with the Better Business Bureau. This way, if something does go wrong, you won’t have to use an online form to get help.