How To Get Rid of a Car That Doesn't Run: 6 Options

You may think your old junker isn't worth much, but there are plenty of options to explore before you send it to the scrap yard.


Article QuickTakes:

There has always been a market for used cars. Millions of Americans buy and sell used cars through dealers and other sources. Perhaps that's how you purchased your current vehicle.

However, not all used cars are the same. While some may have a reasonable amount of miles and only need minor cosmetic work for reselling, others may not run at all or require significant repairs. You may wonder how to get rid of a car that doesn't run because it's too old or broken down. Here are ways to explore your options.

How To Estimate Value

Your first step may be to figure out the vehicle's value. Online valuation sites and even dealerships can provide you with quotes on the car as-is. From there, you can weigh if spending some money to get your vehicle up and running again is worth it.

You may find the time and expense won't net you much profit or trade-in value. In that case, you might be better off selling it as-is. On the other hand, a mechanic may only need to change out a few essential parts, increasing the car's market value.

Run the numbers on repair and parts estimates against the value you've found through a dealer or online buyer. Even if spending the extra cash to make your car road-worthy again doesn't net you much, you still have options for selling it.

Options for Getting Rid of a Car That Doesn't Run

You may or may not realize there are a few places you can bring a non-running car. Depending on the situation, you could get money back or use the vehicle for some trade-in value. Here are six options you can try:

1. Trade-In at a dealership

Both new and used car dealerships buy used vehicles. If you're buying a new car from a dealership, you can tow your non-running car there and have them determine its value. If the dealer can't resell it, they may find a use for its parts, which can still result in some trade-in value. Then, you can apply that offer to a new vehicle from the same dealership.

2. Sell it independently

You may also try to sell the vehicle independently to another buyer. In this case, consider getting an estimate from a mechanic on how much it will cost to get the car up and running. Unless your vehicle is a coveted model or has valuable parts, it may be a hard sell while it's not running. Another option is to part out your car, tearing down the vehicle and selling individual parts.

3. Find online buyers or traders

Many online used and damaged car sites buy non-operational cars. You'll need to enter your car's information, such as the vehicle identification number (VIN), and describe its condition accurately. The site will send you a cash offer, and if you accept, you'll tow the car to a partner site or dealership for a final inspection. If the vehicle matches the description, you can agree to the deal.

4. Consult mechanics and repair shops

Ask your local mechanic if they're interested in buying your vehicle. Many mechanics and repair shops purchase damaged vehicles or cars that don't run and use them for parts. If you've taken it to the mechanic for an estimate to get it running again, ask what their price would be to buy it as-is.

5. Consider junkyards and scrap yards

Another option to make money with a car that doesn't run is to sell it to scrap or junkyards. This route is often a last resort since you're often only paid for the value of the metal, and most places will not haul it away for you. Additionally, sellers typically must remove and dispose of all fluids properly prior to being accepted at many yards. You'll want to get a few quotes and do the math to see if the value of the parts and metal will cover the cost of removal.

6. Donate your car to charity

If you want to get rid of your car while doing a good deed and maximizing your tax benefits, consider donating it to a local charity. While you won't get any cash back for your donation, you may get a tax deduction based on your car's fair market value. If you're thinking about going this route, here are some questions to ask first.

Run the Numbers and Explore Your Options

If you're worrying about how to get rid of a car that doesn't run, know that you do have options. Take the time to get an estimate for your car, run the numbers, and see where you can get the best deal.

This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
author photo
Liz Froment
I love learning about money — deals, financing, and what to avoid. All that came in handy after my own extensive car search, where I put everything I learned about the financial side of things to use. That's where I can help you too. I want to give you tools to help you find the best vehicle that will fit your practical and financial needs.