Q: How should I get rid of my junk car?

asked by on November 20, 2016

I want to get rid of my 2000 Saturn SL, but it's all rusted out underneath. It still runs, but currently needs a new battery. A mechanic did some welding underneath the car to fix a hole in the exhaust pipe and some other issues as a stop-gap, but it's on its last legs. I would like to get rid of it and get some cash. Would you recommend I sell or for scrap? Attempt to sell it to a privater buyer? Donate it? What would you recommend?

My car has 95000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

It depends on where the rust is. There is cosmetic rust which is meaningless and then there is rust on critical safety components, such as steel brake and fuel lines, or structural features like the sub-frame, engine cradle, springs, and suspension components. If the rust is enough to create a safety hazard (not an unusual circumstance so do be careful), basically if you sell to a private party, you have to clearly tell the buyer that the car is potentially dangerous simply because you don’t want anything bad to happen and have it on your conscience. But, then even if you tell people, sometimes they’ll still drive it as is, that is act heedlessly. The thing is cars can be re-built, so if you do a private party sale to a person who will make the vehicle usable and safe, that would be a good outcome. Just price it accordingly. Scrap prices for steel are very low now, maybe a couple cents per pound, so you might get $60 from a scrapyard. In comparison, as long as the frame is not damaged, if you sold it to someone who was able and willing to rebuild it, you might get anywhere from $250 to $1,200 depending on just how bad it is. IF the frame is not damaged, you should be able to get a minimum of $250. However, if the frame is damaged (too corroded), the car is worth $60 (unless you want to part it out and sell individual parts on Ebay, which is not a bad option). Keep in mind, if the frame is not damaged, it is usually more economical, and also more interesting, to keep your existing car and simply repair or restore it. Frame damage though is usually the end unless you are really determined and have a friend who is willing to do a lot of welding for you. If we can assist you further, by all means let us know.

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