Why Do People Buy Junk Cars?
Why in the world would anyone in their right mind buy junk cars? The short answer is, that in America, we love our automobiles. Vintage, classic, custom, or compacted, our vehicles are considered one of our most prized possessions.
Even when the paint has faded; bleached out by decades of summer fun, and the engine just doesn't rev the way it use too, we hold on to these symbols of freedom until the last choke of smoke spits from their pipes.
Many people develop close emotional attachments to their cars and, similar to losing a beloved family pet; find it hard to let go when the time comes. Even for those who know just what to do, the idea of discarding something that has meant so much to us for so long can be difficult.
However, if you are the sentimental type, you might rest easier knowing an entire industry is dedicated to squeezing every bit of life out of any car they find.
Here's the best part - the are businesses near you right now that will pay you for your old, wrecked, or unwanted ride regardless of its condition.
Who Will Buy My Junk Car?
Every year auto manufacturers build and deliver over 60 million new vehicles. That is a record high for the auto industry. It's even more amazing considering the current generation of American car buyers are thought to be more frugal when it comes to large purchases.
That's great news for the "salvage" industry. People who work in this field are always looking to buy a junk car for the right price.
Junkyards, or salvage yards, are the equivalent of graveyards where we go to sell a junk car. If the decision is made that an auto can no longer be driven, it will likely be destroyed. But, before any car is crushed into a cool, super-heavy metal cube, it gets a final once over, and anything of value is stripped, saved, and re-sold.
That's where the junkyard makes its money. Cars and trucks are cannibalized for original parts to be re-sold. There is a lot of money to be made in used car parts and these types of businesses have learned how to get the most value out of any vehicle no matter its condition.
Even if your auto has been sitting on 4 flat tires in a field behind your house for 50 years, it will still be worth the value of the scrap metal that remains. That means one of these guys will literally come to your home, load up your old heap, and then give you money for it before they go!
What to Do Before You Sell Your Junk Auto
There are ways to get more money out of a salvage car you might need to know about. If you decide to use a salvage service to get rid of an unwanted vehicle, use this quick checklist to get the most money for your junk car.
- Collect Personal Items
Our cars can become collection points for all sorts of our personal belongings. We throw trash in the back seat, leave things forgotten in the trunk, and compartments get filled with mail, important documents, jewelry and anything else we see fit to toss in there.
None of these things add any value to your car. In fact, if you want to get the best offer for a vehicle (it doesn't matter is the seat cushions have rotted off) you need to clean it up as best you can.
Remove every single personal item you find and clean the car up as much as possible. When sale time comes, you'll want your junker to look as nice as possible even if it is still ugly as all get out.
Some things that are often overlooked include registration and insurance information. Also, any bills, or invoices containing your personal information, or anything that can be used to steal your identity.
It might be tempting to just leave the vehicle in a disastrous state, but keep in mind that the salvage yard is not a dump. If they arrive to see a car filled with garbage, they will deduct the cost of the clean up from their offer. It's best to just get in there and clean out your own mess to get the most value for your car.
Remember that once your car is towed away, that's it! You won't get another chance to check for something valuable you might have left in there.
- Hold the Legal Title
When you sell your vehicle, you'll need to remove the license plates, and cancel the insurance.
This is probably the most important part of selling an unwanted vehicle. You MUST legally transfer ownership of the car, or truck to the junkyard by signing a bill of sale and transferring the title to them.
It is possible to sell a car that you no longer hold the title for, but it is a much more involved process. If you have a salvage car you want to sell, but can't locate the title, you will need to go through the process of attaining a duplicate title.
Keep in mind that until the title is legally transferred you may still be held responsible for the vehicle. This remains true even after the tow service has hauled the car away. Be very leery of businesses that are not concerned about the legal aspects of buying your car. It could come back to bite you.
You'll need to check your state and local laws before applying for a duplicate title.
- To Strip, or Not to Strip
No matter how old, or damaged a vehicle becomes, there will inevitable be some parts you'll be tempted to sell yourself before junking the whole thing.
Be Warned - removing parts and upgrades from your car will lessen the value of the offer you receive from the salvage company.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you will need to have some knowledge of the market to know how to best proceed. After all, only you know how much you paid for those sweet rims, or that after market exhaust system.
Most companies will start with a base-line recommendation as set forth by Kelley Blue Book (KBB). KBB is a trusted publication that lists out the current value of any make, or model vehicle based on age and condition. The KBB is a great place for you to get a good idea of what the value of your car currently is.
An estimate of the value of your auto is good protection against scams, and unscrupulous buyers who don't mind taking advantage of unsuspecting sellers.
Of course, there are unscrupulous sellers as well. Salvage yards need to protect themselves from sellers who describe their vehicles as being in one condition (to get more money) and then they attempt to tamper with the auto by removing valuable parts after receiving an offer.
This is not recommended for obvious reasons. Let's keep it fair, folks.
- Got Gas?
This may sound a bit like overkill, but did you check your gas tank before you watched your old beater disappear into the sunset?
Hey, gas ain't cheap! You might only be getting the scrap value of the vehicle, which may not be much in the first place. Why lessen the amount of money you receive by deducting the price of a tank of gas right off the top?
Unless the auto has sat idle for a long time the fuel is probably still useful and should be drained and kept. The salvage company is required to do this with every car they strip anyway, so why give them free gas?
This goes for oils, and other fluids as well. The environmental impact of a deteriorating automobile sitting around full of noxious chemicals needs little discussion. Be responsible for your vehicle right to the very end, the planet will love you for it.
So, You're Ready to Sell Your Junk Car?
All right, we've covered what you need to know before trying to sell your wrecked car. Now it's time to bring this baby home. Better yet, ...it's time to get that junk car sold!
- Call for Estimates
OK. You've got your car cleaned up the title is current, and in-hand. What's next? It's time to call around and get the best price for your once-dependable old friend.
Your best bet is to contact your local salvage and junkyards first. Different offers from businesses further away can eat into the profitability of the sale on both ends. It's best to do business with someone as close as possible to keep transport costs low.
You'll need to find out the pick-up policies of each individual company before you make your decision. This factor alone has been known to ruin a "good deal".
Some companies have no problem hauling your junk truck away, and others require that you pay for the service. Which one is best for you will be determined by the offer and the cost of towing.
When calling for information and estimates, it is a wise thing to be fully prepared. Make a list of all of the pros and cons that describe your vehicle as accurately as possible.
Being honest about the condition of the auto is the best practice. These are specialists, after all, and it won't do you any good to try to trick them in any way. They do this for a living and will be quick to smell a skunk in the woodpile.
4 of the most common "Lemon Laws" In America
- Honesty is the Best Policy
Whenever there is a market for used, or discarded parts there always seems to be a crop of unethical groups and individuals who try to take advantage of consumers.
It's no different when it comes to the auto industry. Buyers and sellers both need to be on guard for those who would take advantage by employing subtle tricks and hacks to get more money, or to pay less money for a salvage vehicle.
This happens to the extent that state laws have been established to protect car buyers from these types of bad deals, and the swindlers who make them. State laws vary on the subject, but most have established some guidelines for consumer protection.
- State Lemon Law
If you are selling, or thinking of buying a junk/used car, you should first check to see what your state law is on the matter. Many vehicles are sold "as-is" which means that you will have no recourse to compensation once the sale is made.
If you have no mechanical experience, it recommended you steer clear of cars being sold with this tag. Either have an experienced mechanic help you decide, or move on to another vehicle.
Some states also have special considerations regarding buying vehicles with "salvage titles" only. Check your states laws before agreeing to buy.
- Mileage Laws
One trick that is far too common, is the old "mileage roll-back". This is an old used car dealer trick, where the odometer is tampered with to make it appear that the car has fewer miles than it actually does. The buyer is then duped into thinking that there is more life left on the car and its parts than it actually has.
A car can be sold with a malfunctioning odometer, but it must be documented on the title.
- Private vs. Public Sale
When you buy a used car from a dealer you are protected by a number of laws designed to protect the consumer. The rules for buying a car privately, however, are a bit less regulated.
Each state has different views on what constitutes a "dealer". Some go by how many cars a person can sell in a certain time frame before they are considered a dealer. Others have no such laws, so you must do your own due diligence to protect yourself from a bad deal.
- Price Limits
To save time and prevent the courts from backing up over nominal cases, many states have implemented price maximums on vehicles covered by Lemon Laws.
On average, if the cost of the vehicle in question is less than $700, you are not likely to be heard by a civil court. Other parameters such as vehicle age, and mileage are also limited in some states.
Selling junk cars isn't exactly rocket surgery, but at least now you have the basic understanding to go forward and get the most money you can for selling your salvage car, or truck.
As long as you check your state laws, get a good idea of the fair value of the car, and be aware of scammers, then getting rid of that old beater while putting a few bucks back in your pocket should be a walk in the park.