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How to Sell Your Lemon Car

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

From family road trips and long drives through rocky terrain to late-night joyrides with friends and last-minute runs to the grocery store, your car has served you well. 

But, if you’re honest, you know your car has pretty much reached the end of its life. 

In order to help you finance the purchase of a new one — or just to put a little extra cash in your pocket — you want to learn the best tips when it comes to how to sell your lemon car

Make sure you read this post before you head to the junkyard. 

Do Your Homework 

Here’s an important reality: not all junkyards and auto salvage companies are created equal. 

In order to sell a lemon car for the best possible price, the first thing you need to do is ensure that you’re working with the right buyers

We know that it can be incredibly tempting to just head to your local auto recycling center or junkyard, take the first offer, and call it a day. After all, that method puts money in your pocket faster. However, if you go this route, you’re almost guaranteeing yourself that you’ll get a low offer. 

Instead, work with a company that has a network of/relationship with nationwide yards, so that no matter what kind of car you’re selling or the condition it’s in, you’ll get the best offer. 

Often, you’ll still be able to get a same-day offer — but you’ll just get a better one than if you’d gone with local junkyards. 

You also need to do your due diligence to ensure that you don’t fall victim to a junkyard scam when selling a lemon car

You should always ask to see a junkyard’s license and understand how they define a ton. There’s a difference between a net ton and a metric tone — and you should try to find one that weighs your car’s scrap in net tons to get the best deal. 

Know What Impacts the Offer

Part of understanding how to sell your lemon car means studying up on the kinds of things that are the most likely to impact your offer. 

In other words? 

A lower offer than you’d like doesn’t always mean you’re getting scammed, but you should ensure that the yard can explain why you’re getting the offer you are. 

One of the biggest things that impact your offer is the current value of scrap metals like copper, steel, and aluminum. This post is an awesome resource when it comes to helping you understand how scrap metal pricing is calculated.

The amount of work that needs to be done on your car before its crushed will also influence the quote you receive. Of course, so will the number of parts that the yard is actually able to reuse. 

You’ll also need to consider the potential cost of transporting the vehicle to the junkyard — so if you can drive it in yourself, you should certainly do so to save a bit of cash. 

Even the amount of rust that’s on your car, as well as the number of minor scrapes and dings, can impact your offer.

Above all, remember that a junkyard will be completely unable to buy your car if you can’t give them to title for it. Under the law, they can’t buy a car from anyone who is not the owner. If someone needs to transfer the car title to you, be certain to take care of that before you hit the junkyard. 

What You Can Do to Increase Your Car’s Value

The good news is that there are quite a few small and affordable steps that you can take to ensure that you get the best offer possible when selling your lemon car. 

Of course, you should always take all of your personal belongings out of the car before you take it to the junkyard (trust us, you’d be surprised by how many people forget to do this.) 

However, getting the trash out of your car is far from the only thing you need to do. 

Many auto salvage companies will want to sell your car’s seats, so wash them and even invest in aleather patch repair kit to get a higher offer. Get rid of any stains on the flooring and seats that you can. 

Additionally, always drain out all of the fluids in your vehicle before taking it to the junkyard. Legally, junkyards can’t reuse or crush any of the car parts if it has fluid in it. So, while a junkyard can clear out the fluid themselves, you’ll be able to get a better offer if you do it yourself. 

Make sure to remove freon, brake and wiper fluid, antifreeze, the transmission fluid, and of course, any gas in the tank. 

Get rid of as much rust as you can before you sell, too. In fact, this may be worth the minor investment of taking it in for a professional rust removal before you go to sell your car. 

How to Sell Your Lemon Car: Wrapping Up

Now that you know exactly how to sell your lemon car, it’s time to find the junkyard that’s right for you. 

At Cash Auto Salvage, we’re committed to buying a variety of makes and models in cities across the country. 

We’ll work with you to ensure you know what to do in order to get the best possible offer on your vehicle. 

Reach out to us today to get an instant quote. All you need to do is tell us a bit about your car on an online form or over the phone, and, if you decide to accept the offer, schedule a time to take advantage of our free tow away services. 

We look forward to helping you get a great offer. 

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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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