Is it Possible to Sell a Car that Won’t Run Anymore?

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Here’s the short answer: yes, you can totally sell a car that’s stopped running. What do you have to do to make this happen though? There are a few things that you should know beforehand in order to get the best deal with the least amount of effort. It’s probably obvious that the amount of money you get will depend on the condition of the vehicle, but there’s more to it than that. For instance, could the car have value for collectors? Is it truly inoperable, or could it run again with minimal repairs? Getting cash for cars is pretty easy if using a service provider like, but without trusting a company the following is information to help you gain a much better return.

There are all kinds of reasons why a company or individual would want to buy an inoperable vehicle. Scrapyards want spare parts and scrap metal, while an individual buyer on Craigslist might be searching for their dream passion project. If you know who would place the most value on your car, that’ll tell you where to start. Of course, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get more than one quote if you aren’t sure; after all, it’s a seller’s market where cars are concerned, even if they won’t start!

Begin by finding out what condition your vehicle is in.

Aside from the obvious issue that it doesn’t run anymore, what problems does the car have – and what would that mean for potential buyers?

  • Would it appeal to hobbyists or collectors? From modern muscle cars to the classics, there are plenty of vehicles that have resale value no matter what their condition. Even if there’s hardly anything left of the car, you might still find an enthusiast who would pay considerably more for it than a scrapyard would.
  • Would it be worth the repairs? In the case of a traffic accident, your car might be past the point of no return – or it might not be. Until you have it checked out by a trusted mechanic, there’s really no way to tell for sure. If you just want to keep it on the road for a few more years, it might be worth the cost of even extensive repairs, especially given how hard it is to buy used vehicles currently. If you want to sell it, though, make sure you don’t spend more than the car is worth on repairs.
  • How much would it take to get the car running? Even though failure to start seems like a serious problem, sometimes the cause is actually pretty trivial – and cheap to fix. Before giving up on your car, have an expert look at it and discuss what the issue is; you might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Could repairs drive up the resale value? There’s a ton of demand for new and used cars – so much, in fact, that some people are actually looking for inoperable vehicles that they could repair themselves. In this case, it could make sense to do a few repairs here and there to spruce the vehicle up. For example, the cost to replace a shattered windshield might increase the price by more than what you paid for the repair.

Who would buy your inoperable vehicle?

The best place to sell a junk car depends on what kind of junk car you’re talking about. Is it a recently made, popular model that was just wrecked, or is it a 40-year-old clunker that’s been rusting behind the ranch house for years? Below you’ll find the primary options; no matter what condition your vehicle is in, you should be able to find someone to buy it.

  • Scrapyards will take vehicles in almost any condition. As long as there’s usable scrap metal, you might get a couple hundred dollars for it at least. This price is before you pay for towing, though, so make sure you consider that too.
  • Get a quote from a used car dealership. If you have a fairly modern vehicle that has in-demand parts (or that wouldn’t take a ton of money to fix), you might get lucky at a car dealership. There are several downsides, though. For one thing, you’ll have to jump through a bunch of hoops to comply with inspections and various requirements – and there’s no guarantee that they’ll take the vehicle after all that, either. For another thing, used car dealerships have a profit margin to think about, so you aren’t likely to get a great price in any case.
  • Take the vehicle apart yourself for spare parts. If your car isn’t worth repairing, its main value is in the components that still work. Since these parts could be worth several thousand dollars, someone with the right skills (and enough time) could strip an old vehicle and make quite a bit of money without having to go through a middle-man. That being said, they’d also have to find multiple buyers for all the parts, arrange for transport or shipping, etc.
  • Find online buyers. Even if you aren’t trying to sell a car to enthusiasts or collectors, you might still find an online buyer who’s willing to purchase an inoperable vehicle. If a car is totaled without being absolutely trashed, a new owner might want to fix it up just so they have something that drives. If this is true for your car, you might want to head to eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to see if there’s anyone looking for the model of car you’re trying to sell.
  • Donate the vehicle for a tax exemption. Sure, a tax exemption isn’t exactly getting paid, but if you’re having trouble finding a buyer (or you just want to get rid of it as quickly as possible), there’s always the option to donate it to a registered charity.

The takeaway

Just because your car doesn’t run anymore doesn’t mean that you can’t get any more use from it. With the right game plan and a little patience, you could end up getting some extra cash for even the most beat-up junk car.