How to Prepare a Junk Car for Sale

When a vehicle needs more repairs than it’s worth, or is no longer safe or cost-efficient to drive, it’s time for a driver to consider cutting his losses and moving on. And in situations like these, selling a car to a junk or auto salvage yard is often the best option.

4 Tips to Get the Most for a Junk Car

It’s easy to assume that an old car is just a pile of metal that’s headed straight for the dump. And while this is true, to a degree, it may be a valuable pile of junk. Scrap metal has rather significant value and car owners can make a few bucks by selling to the right sources.

For example, consider that certain companies will pay as much as $1,000 for a 2002 Toyota Tundra, or $2,050 for a 2004 Nissan Maxima. For most people, that’s anything but pocket change. But in order to get top dollar for a vehicle, people need to spend some time preparing. Like anything else in life, there’s a greater return in store for those who are willing to do a little work on the front end. The following tips are helpful:

1. Research Junked Vehicle Requirements

There are two different and distinct definitions folks in the industry use to define a junk car. Understanding which category a vehicle falls into will help in knowing how to proceed.

  • A vehicle is labeled as a “total loss” if it’s been in an accident and the appraiser has determined the vehicle to have damage that’s too extensive to repair. In essence, a total loss means the cost of repairing the vehicle is more than the car’s current value. So if a car is worth $3,000, but needs $3,500 in repairs, it’s a total loss.
  • A vehicle is labeled an “end-of-life” or “ELV” when it’s no longer operable. This designation is typically given to vehicles that have suffered large-scale damage; vehicles that are extremely old and deteriorated; and vehicles that have been stationary for a long period of time (and no longer run).

Depending on the vehicle an owner is attempting to junk and the company they’re working with, there may be certain preparation requirements in play. For example, some junkyards have a policy that states they must do all of the dismantling in-house. Other junkyards will pay more to customers who dismantle various parts before coming in. Researching little details like this will help set customers up for success.

2. Organize Paperwork

It’s also important that individuals organize all of their paperwork in order to satisfy the various legal stipulations that their respective states have in place. Depending on the rules in their area, car owners may have to:

  • Fill out a Damage Disclosure Statement
  • Provide the vehicle title and proof of registration
  • Relinquish the license plate

Having all paperwork organized and accessible makes the process of junking a vehicle much faster and more efficient.

3. Gather Personal Belongings

Once an individual junks a car, the vehicle and whatever is inside no longer belongs to that individual. Owners must make sure they go through the vehicle and gather all personal belongings before turning the car in. They should check under seats, in the center console and glove compartment, in the trunk, and in seatback pockets.

4. Find a Reputable Junkyard

Not all junkyards are created equal. In fact, there are a number of salvage yards that don’t implement good business practices. Customers are encouraged to do their own research and try to find a national junkyard company with a good reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.

Get More for a Junk Car

There’s no sense in paying someone to haul off a junk car when there are companies that are willing to pay thousands of dollars in return for valuable scrap metal. Taking the time to prepare a junk car for sale may bring a nice return.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.