What’s Best: Junk a Car, Trade It in, or Donate It?

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

When it comes time to get rid of your car–whether you simply want to be done with an old car or because you’re ready for a new one, deciding what to do with it can be tough. You’re probably asking yourself “what price can I get for my car?”

Is it best to junk a car? Trade it in? Or donate it?

The answer to that question depends on you, your car, your preferences, and your goals.

If your car is not running–or simply aging, making it time to think about these things–know that you do have some options. There are ways to make money off your old junker of a car, even if it’s a small amount.

But first, it’s important to understand exactly what happens with each of the options for getting rid of a car, whether you opt to junk a car, trade it in, or donate it.

Trading: The Most Popular Option

Trading in your car can be a daunting task. The process can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many tips and tricks out there for figuring out how to navigate the trade-in process.

Trading in a car can be a great option when it’s time to part ways with your car. When you trade in your car, you put the worth of your car toward the purchase price of a new car. Trading in a car is basically selling it to a dealership.

You’ll work with a dealership to sell them your car in exchange for a certain amount of money off of a new car. Trading in a car is a very common process and it’s not that difficult.

However, car dealers make a great bit of money from people trading in their cars. This is because it saves people a lot of the hassle of selling their own car, which can be quite a bit of work.

Dealerships will first offer you a price much lower than the actual value of your car so that they can turn around and flip it in order to make a profit.

Selling your vehicle privately will almost always lead to you getting the most money for your car. However, selling to a dealership can save you quite a bit of headache and time.

Perks of Trading in a Car

Trading in a car vs selling it yourself comes down to convenience and what your next steps are, especially if they include buying or acquiring a new car to replace the one you’re selling.

Trading in a car can help offset the cost of a new or replacement car. You can apply the value of the car you’re trading in toward the price of a new car.

When it’s time to get rid of your car or simply time to get a new car, trading it in will help you to get the most value for your car. So if your car is still working well and in pretty good condition, trading it in is probably your best bet.

The bottom line is that trading in your car will provide some degree of value in return.

Why Should I Donate My Car?

If you are not attached to getting the most value possible out of your car, or if your car has extremely low trade-in value, the question of deciding between trading vs donating can be difficult to answer. There are perks to either route.

Before making a decision, you should consider how it would look for you to donate a car.

There is a lot to understand about the IRS, rules, and all the different caveats when it comes to taxes and deductions. All of this can be quite confusing.

Still, donating a car to charity can be a great option. In fact, in certain cases, it makes financial sense to donate a car to charity.

Yes, donating a car usually does involve quite a bit of paperwork, but it can be done.

You must make sure the charity qualifies, and you must itemize the returns on your taxes very carefully. And you should know that getting fair market value on your car in the form of a tax deduction is very rare.

However, if you decide to move forward with donating your car, you will receive some of a tax benefit, plus the satisfaction of knowing you helped out a charity in need.

How Do I Know If I Should Donate My Car?

Donating a car is definitely good karma!

But besides earning some karma, when is donating a car the best option? What are the other benefits?

If you simply want to get rid of your car, quickly and don’t care about getting any sort of value out of it–and if you want to do some good in the world–donating a car is the perfect option.

However, if you want to maximize the tax benefits you can receive from donating your car, there will definitely be a bit more work involved.

When you want to do something good and perform a selfless act of helping others, donating a car is a great way to do so.

When you donate a car, you won’t receive any cash or payment for the value of your car (however low), but you will receive the warm feeling of knowing you paid it forward in a big way.

Junking a Car

Though trading in a car and donating a car both have their perks, these options are not always available.

Sometimes, due to your situation or the condition of your car, junking the car is the only thing you can do. Luckily, it’s not such a bad idea.

In fact, as you learn more, you may find that the option to junk a car can be a very desirable option, for many different reasons.

What Does It Mean to Junk a Car?

If you’re not sure what it means to junk a car, don’t worry. It’s pretty simple to understand.

To junk a car is exactly what it sounds like: putting your car in the junk pile once you can get no more use out of it.

When you junk a car, it goes to the junk yard. Cars in junk yards are stripped down to their most basic form and then crushed to a smaller size.

Junk yards are the proper place to put a car that no longer has any life left in it.

So, essentially, to junk a car is to throw it away in a big trash can. Junking a car is putting it where it’s supposed to go when it has run its course.

Check out our guide to junking your car to learn more.

Why Should You Junk a Car?

If you’re considering junking your car, you may be wondering: why should you?

There are other options for disposing of your car, like trading it in or donating it to charity, so what’s the point of junking your car?

To junk a car can be beneficial in many ways, but you should know enough about your options to feel confident that you are making the right choice for your unique situation.

It’s Good for the Environment

For one, it’s environmentally friendly. There are many environmental benefits of junking your car.

It may not seem like it, but to junk a car is a form of recycling. The basic components of your car can be repurposed for other uses when you junk it.

It’s Safe

It’s also safer. Your car contains toxic substances that you may not know about. Examples include battery acid, antifreeze, mercury, and more.

Even if you do not know about them, however, it’s important to dispose of them properly. Junk yards know exactly how to dispose of these chemicals the right way.

Junking a car means disposing of your car at a place that is equipped to handle the toxic substances your car contains.

It’s a Wise Financial Move

As if those reasons are not enough, you can also make some extra cash when you junk a car!

All of the car parts that you have no use for anymore are worth some amount of money, however small.

If you have a junk car sitting on your property taking up space and creating an eyesore, you might as well get rid of it and make a little extra money while doing so.

Contact us for a free quote if you’re wondering how much you can get for your junk car.

It’s Pretty Much Hassle-Free

Lastly, it’s easy to do.

You may have a lot of questions about the car junking process. But don’t worry: it’s not very difficult to understand, and we can assist you throughout the process.

Junking your car is usually the simplest option and the one that will save you the headache.

Most junk car removal companies will come to your property to tow the car for you, so no need to worry about how you’re going to get your car to the junk yard.

Deciding to junk your car is often the easiest route.

Junking your car may very well be the most simple way to get the junk car off your property and out of your mind.

When’s the Right Time to Junk a Car?

Is it time to junk your car? Usually, junking a car is a last resort.

But when you have exhausted every possible option for repairing or selling your car, it’s time to junk your car.

There are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself before sending your car to the junk yard.

Knowing the answer to these things will help you decide if it’s truly time to junk your car.

Questions to Help You Decide Whether It’s Time to Junk Your Car:

How Much Is the Cost of Future Repairs?

Is the cost of future repairs more than you’d spend on a car loan payment (for a new car)?

If so, it might be time to junk your car.  If future repairs are simply too costly, cut your losses and junk your car.

In addition to the financial cost, you must consider the amount of time and mental energy you will invest in the car.

Will keeping your car running take more time, money, and energy than it’s worth? Is the cost of repairing and maintaining your car simply more than you are able or willing to handle?

Then it may be time to junk your car.

Do You Spend a Ton on Gas?

Then you may want to consider getting rid of your car.

The newer the car, usually the more fuel efficient it is. Older, junkier cars tend to feel like throwing money down the drain when it comes to gas consumption.

Have You Already Spent Way Too Much Money on Your Car?

The only way to stop the bleeding is to get rid of your car. Stop throwing money into the bottomless pit that is your junk car, and make the move to finally get rid of it.

Junk cars tend to be huge money suckers, so free yourself from all the expenses and start investing in something smarter, like a new car.

Is Your Car Totaled?

Wondering if your car is truly totaled?

Determining if your car is totaled can be a confusing process.

However, if your car is totaled, you probably don’t have a lot of options. Selling it won’t work, and donating it to charity probably doesn’t make sense in this case either.

When your car is totaled, the best move is likely to junk your car.

Have You Decided Junking Your Car Is the Right Move for You?

Of course, you always want to make sure you are getting the most value possible from your car.

But if the questions above apply to you, it’s probably time to junk a car.

If you’ve decided that junking or selling your car is the right move for you, we can help.

Check out our post on 10 things to do before you junk a car so you’ll know what steps you should take before waving goodbye to your car.

Still asking “how much money can I get for my car”? Call us at 855-922-3095 and we’ll give you a honest, no-hassle offer.

Share this!


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.

maximize cash offer on car

We'll buy your vehicle!

Wait! We REALLY Want Your Vehicle!

We pay up to $20,000 for cars, trucks, & SUV’s – no matter the condition. Get paid on the spot + free towing!

Or Call... 1-855-922-3095

There is no obligation to accept an offer.

Unable to verify mileage

Selecting “unable to verify” may decrease your offer and should only be selected if you cannot visually confirm the mileage of the vehicle upon inspection of the odometer.