A car accident without insurance. Mechanical malfunctions such as a blown engine or transmission. Whatever the incident, your car is inoperable and either irreparable or too expensive to repair. If it never crossed your mind before, perhaps how to sell a car for parts is an option to consider.
Sometimes, car repairs just aren’t worth the investment. Here’s how to try and get what remaining value you can from your car and move on.
How to sell a car for parts
Selling your car for parts usually means one of two things. The first is that you will actually send it off to a wrecker or recycler to either dismantle it or to offer self-serve used parts for their clients. The other way to sell your car for parts is to literally sell it part by part, whether you personally remove and sell the pieces or you have people come and remove the parts and pay you for them.
How to sell a car for parts to a dealer or junkyard
Generally, most people opt to sell the complete car. One of the biggest reasons for this is the simplicity of the transaction. It’s a one-and-done type of deal and you’ll be rid of that heap of scrap metal.
As long as you have the car title, selling the vehicle whole to a junkyard or used parts dealer is as simple as filling out a bill of sale and signing the title over. Some online services, such as Bumper.com, will make an offer online, then complete payment and free vehicle pickup in as little as 24 hours. Local recyclers and junkyards may offer similar services, too, with an on-the-spot price quote, but be sure they aren’t going to charge you extra for removal.
There can be a couple of costs associated with selling to a junkyard. A reissued lost title can cost a bit of money, although it may be possible to junk the car without the title. You may also need to pay taxes on the sale. Both costs are relatively minor compared to the value you’ll likely get for your car.
How to sell individual car parts
It’s all but guaranteed that the sum of a car’s parts will be greater than the money from selling it whole. If you have some mechanical skills, it’s possible to get much more by stripping down the car, then cleaning the parts and listing them for sale.
A good, running engine alone can easily get $1,000 or more for many cars, and some other valuable parts, such as the transmission, wheels and seats in good condition can net hundreds of dollars. Make no mistake, it’s hard work to disassemble and clean the parts so they can be sold. An alternative is to offer self-serve parts, which avoids the mechanical work, but you’ll inevitably get less money. There’s still a time commitment because you’ll likely want to be present while the buyer works to remove the part or parts.
Where to sell car parts
Getting good money requires knowing where to sell car parts. That means listing them where people can find them.
For larger parts such as engines, transmissions, differentials, wheels, subframes—really, anything more than about 10 pounds—you’ll probably want to sell them locally. Not only is it a pain to pack the part, but the shipping costs a fortune. Craigslist is one of the best places to list used car parts for sale, and Facebook Marketplace is a close second.
For smaller, easily packed and shipped parts, there’s a huge benefit in using the internet’s reach to make sales. eBay is one of the most recognized ways to sell used parts anywhere around the world. Other options exist as well, such as specific forums. You can list parts for sale in places like the Member Marketplace on the F-150 Forum or RX-7 Club. A Google search can locate forums for virtually any make and model.
Selling a car for parts: Which method is right for me?
It’s your call. Should you make a fast deal with a junkyard to get rid of your car, or part it out? Do you know how to sell your car for parts, piece by piece, and do you have the time for it? Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right method.
Selling the whole car is probably better if…
You need the car gone now
Maybe you need to buy another car to replace this broken-down scrap heap. If you need cash in hand for a down payment on another car—or you need the cash for any reason—selling it whole is the best way to get money in hand fast.
You’re not mechanically inclined
Even professional mechanics experience cut-up hands and bruises, scrapes and gouges. It can be painful to disassemble a car, and if you aren’t mechanically inclined, you probably aren’t equipped with the tools to take the vehicle apart.
Your car is fairly common
That’s not to say people don’t look for parts on common cars. However, if there are a bunch of vehicles just like yours, there are likely to be a handful of people selling them for used parts, too. Competition will accordingly drive down the prices you can command.
The car is newer
Again, some people will look for used parts for newer cars. However, they’re more likely to buy new parts that are more reliable, even if they’re more expensive than what you’re charging for used parts, so the market is limited.
You don’t have the space for a dead car
It can take months to get rid of enough parts to make the work worthwhile. Do you have the space and/or is your partner patient enough to let a rusty junkpile sit in the driveway? If you don’t have the space, selling the car whole is a better choice.
You have an HOA
Some homeowner’s associations have strict rules about your home and yard appearance. Dilapidated cars may not be permitted, so know your HOA rules before trying your hand at ripping an old car apart. You’re better off getting it dragged off to a junkyard.
Selling individual parts might be worth it if…
You’re not in a rush
If you aren’t hard-pressed to get money from your old car, selling your car for parts might make more sense. If you can take your time to disassemble the car, clean the parts, then list them, you’ll make more by being patient.
You’re handy with a wrench
Maybe you’re a backyard mechanic, or maybe you just enjoy pulling wrenches in your spare time. If you have the skills to take the car apart, selling parts individually might be the smart path for you. You probably also have the tools to make the process go smoothly. Disassembling a car is a lot easier with a pneumatic impact wrench than a manual ratchet, for example.
The car is rare, older or expensive
A rusty classic car, a unique or rare model or a vehicle in the premium or luxury segments may have higher demand for parts along with fewer sellers. Selling car parts for these types of vehicles makes more sense because you can get more for them than a common car.
You have plenty of space
Can you hide the car in a back garage or under a tarp in the backyard? If you have the space to disassemble the car without interfering with your everyday comings and goings, selling piece by piece might be the more financially beneficial avenue for you.