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Can I Still Sell My Car?

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Did you know that there are around 5 million car crashes in the US every year? While some of these crashes only cause minor damage to a car that doesn’t have a huge impact on its price, there are others that might end up causing serious damage or totaling the vehicle.

If you have a totaled or heavily damaged car, or a lemon, then you might be asking yourself: “Can I still sell my car?”

This can be a frustrating situation to find yourself in. You’ve already spent money on the car itself, and now, it’s barely even usable, if at all. You want to make money from selling your car, but you don’t know if you can sell it at all.

And if you are able to find a way to sell it, you might be asking yourself: “Is it even worth it? How can I figure out what the actual value of my car is?”

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Once you know how to value your car—whether it’s an old car, a damaged car, or one you’ve totaled—you can finally sell it and make some money. Read on to learn more.

Look up the Retail and Wholesale Value

The first thing you need to do to find out the price of your used car is to look up the retail and wholesale value. To do this, look up the value of your car first in the Kelly Blue Book. Then, look up its value in the National Automobile Dealers Association Used Car Guide.

Once you have both of these figures, add them up. Then, divide this total by two.

As a result, you’ll have an idea of what the average between these two types of value is. This average is your car’s current market value. Once you have this average, you’ll be ready to calculate the salvage value of your vehicle.

This will help you know whether it makes the most sense to sell your car or sell it for parts.

Calculating the Salvage Value

Once you have the average of the retail and wholesale value, you can use this to calculate the salvage value of your car. To do this, get in touch with your insurance company. When you call them, ask what market value percentage they use to determine salvage value.

Usually, this percentage is 75%. However, it can vary, so definitely give your insurance company a call. The more details you have about the salvage value, the more bang you can get for your buck when you sell your car.

To find your vehicle’s salvage value, you need to use the percentage left. So, for example, if your insurance company uses 75%, you’ll use 25% in the following calculation.

In this case, you would multiply the number you got in the last section by 0.25, or 25%. Once you have this amount, you can start to find out if you can make money from selling your vehicle. It all depends on if this amount is greater or smaller than how much you would spend on your repairs.

If your repair costs are higher than the amount you’ve calculated, then it isn’t worth doing the repairs because you’ll be putting in more money than you’ll end up getting for selling your car. However, there’s no need for you to lose hope just yet.

In addition to the cost of repairs, there are other considerations you need to make to understand whether your car is sellable.

Even if it isn’t sellable after you’ve reviewed all these considerations, you can still sell your car for parts or sell it to a salvage yard. Let’s review these considerations now.

Car Damage and Repair Costs

To determine whether you should sell your car or sell it for parts, you need to compare the number you calculated above—its salvage value—to the costs of repairing any damage. Damage costs can vary significantly, considering that an engine replacement can cost thousands of dollars, while replacing a bumper because of a fender bender would only cost $1,000.

Considering how pricey repairs can be after you’ve had your car seriously damaged in an accident, you need to know exactly how much your repairs are going to cost before deciding to sell.

Look at it this way. You might be able to sell a 2012 Toyota Corolla, a popular vehicle, for $5,000 to $10,000 in today’s market. If your repairs are as high as $5,000 altogether, then it might not be worth getting all those repairs done.

To help you, we’ve put together the ranges of how much repairs usually cost.

Keep in mind that these costs can vary significantly, depending on the type of car you have. After all, repairs done on a Toyota will be much cheaper than those done on a BMW.

Here are the costs:

  • Part replacement: between $1,400 and $2,500
  • Engine repair: between $1,200 and $5,500
  • Dent repair: between $200 and $1,200
  • Glass replacement: usually around $1,200
  • Paint: between $400 and $1,200
  • Suspension repair: between $400 and $2,400
  • Alignment: between $80 and $170
  • Battery replacement: between $120 and $400
  • Headlight replacement: between $500 and $5,000

Once you’ve gone through this list, you should have an idea of how much repairs might cost in total. If you’re still on the fence about whether these costs are worth paying to sell your car, you should set up an appointment with a mechanic.

Even though you’ll have to pay the mechanic for their estimate on how much everything will cost, it will be worth your peace of mind.

If the cost of repairs ends up being more than the salvage value, then it’s likely that you won’t make money from selling your vehicle after you’ve repaired it. As we’ve said, this isn’t a terrible thing, because you can still sell it for parts or to a salvage yard.

However, there are still some other factors that will affect the value of your used car. Let’s review them now.

Car Title Branding and Your Car’s History

Your car title’s branding, as well as its history, are factors that determine the value of your car. When your car is being evaluated for its value, how many people have owned it and how many accidents it’s been in are considered. As for the title branding, this is what shows people if your car has gone through any serious repairs in the past.

Your car’s title branding will show up in a vehicle history report if one of your potential buyers runs the report. To be prepared, you should also do a report for yourself to be aware of any title brands before selling. Here are some of the most common title brands.

Salvage Title Brand

If your car has ever been in an accident where the costs of the repair were higher than the market value of the car, it might receive a salvage title brand. This title brand is usually issued by the insurance company when it declares that the car is a total loss.

Lemon Title Brand

If your car has a lemon title brand, this means that it was sold even though it was defective, after which it was returned to the manufacturer. Lemon laws vary by state, and as a result, whether or not you can sell your vehicle will depend on the lemon laws in your state.

If your car has a lemon title, then you will have many difficulties selling it. If repair costs are high and your vehicle has this title, it’s probably best to sell your car for parts or to scrap it.

Flood Damage/Water Damage Title Brand

If your car has ever been flooded (as in, totally submerged in water), then it will have a flood damage title. If it’s only maintained a small amount of water damage—for example, because of a leaky window—then it will have a water damage title brand.

Because water or flooding damage can cause serious issues with a car’s engine, it will be challenging to sell your vehicle if it has one of these titles.

Rebuilt Title Brand

If your car has ever been rebuilt—taken apart and put back together again, with a significant number of parts being different from the original ones—then it will have a rebuilt title brand. Usually, an inspection can show that this vehicle is fully functioning.

However, this brand shows to many potential buyers that the car has been totaled before. This means that there could be some structural damage that’s minor that isn’t visible or noticeable yet.

If you find that buyers are resistant to buying your vehicle with a rebuilt title brand, you could offer to pay for an additional inspection. This way, you can still sell your car, despite the brand.

Odometer Rollback/Wrong Mileage Title Brand

Sometimes, car sellers try to sell them by changing the mileage on the vehicle. Even if you haven’t done this yourself, you might find out that someone has in the past when you check your car’s history. This significantly affects the value of your car negatively.

Before selling your vehicle, see if you can get the actual mileage of it. This will help you calculate your actual value and tell you if it’s worth selling.

Other Details That Affect Your Car’s Value

While your car’s current damage and its title branding are some of the most important details that determine your car’s value, there are still others that make a difference too. Your vehicle’s make and model, as well as its mileage and year, will have an impact on the price you can sell it for.

Keep reading to learn more about these factors.

Make and Model

If your car is a make that’s high-end, then you can sell it for a higher value, even if there is some damage. This is because a buyer might want a high-end vehicle, but not be able to afford one straight from the dealership. This is the case for brands like Cadillac and Lexus.

If the model is a newer one, then buyers will be more excited to buy your car. Even if there’s significant damage, they’ll want to shell out for a popular car that has all the best gadgets and updates.


If your vehicle is recently new, then you can sell it for more. This is because newer models tend to be better than older ones.

If your car is older, or if a new model has come out since you bought it, you might be better off scrapping your vehicle than selling. This is especially the case if your car is quite damaged or has a negative title brand.


Finally, the mileage on your car will affect how much it’s worth. If you haven’t actually used it that much and it only has minor damage, then you should be able to sell it easily. If it has high mileage, then you will have to sell it for a lot less than market value.

Should I Sell My Car or Scrap It?

Now that you’ve read this article, you’ll know what the answer is to the question: “Should I sell my car or scrap it?” If you need help finding a buyer for your vehicle or you’re still having trouble figuring out how much to sell it for, we can help you. And if you need to junk your car, we can help you too.

At Cash Auto Salvage, we’re experts when it comes to cars and can help you with any part of this process. We also buy junk cars for cash. Get an offer on your vehicle in 90 seconds or less.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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