How to Maximize the Offer on Your Junk Car
There are some relatively quick and inexpensive things you can do to increase the value of your junk car, SUV, or truck before you start calling for quotes and before it arrives at the junkyard.
If You Can Drive it In, Do it
Since most people’s junk vehicles aren’t in working condition, junkyards typically offer some type of towing service to come and remove your car and transport it to their facility. Like anything else, this costs money. The more it costs for the junkyard or salvage yard to get your vehicle to their facility, the less their cash offer for your vehicle will be.
If there is a way for you to get your car to the facility either by driving it in (determine how much it would cost to get it in running condition and if it’s worth it), or if you can provide your own tow, that will increase the cash value as it will not take away from the junkyard’s offer. Remember, the less time and money the junkyard has to spend on your vehicle, the more you’ll make.
Clean Out the Interior Space
Almost every part of your car has potential value. An employee at the junkyard will strip your car to see what is reusable and what still has some value to it. The more time anyone has to spend cleaning out the interior of your car before they’re able to strip it, the more it is going to cost you.
Take time before your car is brought to the junkyard to clean out the interior space. Remove all trash. If you can clean up the seats, do so as those can be reused and worth cash. Depending on the material of the seats, using a warm rag to wipe them down might do the trip.
Or you can try using inexpensive treatments like mixing a small amount of dish soap with a little hot water, or mixing vinegar with water, to get rid of most stains on the seats or carpet. Use auto wipes to clean the interior plastic of your vehicle so every surface is dust-free. There is something to be said and more money to be made with a clean looking space and more usable parts.
Empty Out the Fluids
Before a vehicle’s parts can be crushed and reused, environmental laws require that all of the fluids be drained. This includes the gasoline, the Freon in an air conditioner, transmission fluid, oil, brake fluid, wiper fluid, and antifreeze.
Like anything else, the more you’re able to do ahead of time, the less the salvage yard must do and the more money you’ll make on your car. However, draining all fluids requires knowledge of how to dispose of them legally and properly.
They cannot be thrown in the trash. When not disposed of properly, the fluids can seep into the groundwater and contaminate the soil and waterways. This is incredibly dangerous considering that used oil from just one oil change can contaminate 100 gallons of fresh water!
The US Environmental Protection Agency has strict guidelines that every auto shop, mechanic, junkyard, and civilian must follow when disposing of fluids. If you decide to do this on your own before taking your car to the junkyard, be sure to follow these guidelines.
You can ask your local mechanic for tips. If you’re unsure how to do this, it’s best to leave it to a professional.
Remove as Much Rust as Possible
Despite advancements in coatings, steel’s unstable chemical makeup means it will always be susceptible to rust in the natural environment. Considering that most unused vehicles hang out in the natural environment, your junk car probably has some rust on it.
The more rust you can remove (or better yet, prevent!), the more valuable your vehicle will be as there will be more parts that can be reused. A fully rusted door isn’t nearly as valuable as a non-rusty door! Several automotive stores offer relatively inexpensive fixes to get rid of minor rust spots on the vehicle.
Surface rust is the easiest to fix. This is rust that pops up in paint nicks, cracks, and scratches. Use an abrasive wheel or sandpaper to cut through the paint and corrosion until clean, bright metal is visible. Then apply primer, followed by paint, then a clear coat. Buff to blend the finishes.
Scale rust and penetrating rust, the next two levels of rust damage, take more work to finish. Scale rust occurs when rust penetrates the surface and causes a rough, pitted type of damage that looks like bubbles on the surface of your vehicle. To fix this type of rust, you would use a wire brush and then a grinding wheel to knock down the roughness, and then use sandpaper to create a smooth surface. Then you’d apply a coat of paint and primer to finish the job.
Penetrating rust is probably not worth the amount of time and expense to fix as this type of rust is when the steel has flaked away and there’s nothing left but giant holes.
A junkyard cannot legally buy your car from anyone but the legal owner. The first thing you will need to do when you are ready to sell your junk car, truck or SUV is to get your hands on its title if you don’t have it already.
You must establish ownership in your name prior to dealing with these businesses. If you make a trip with your vehicle to the junkyard without the title, it will be a waste of your time and effort. You must present the title at the same time you sell your car.
Get Multiple Quotes
It only makes sense to call multiple junkyards and receive quotes for your vehicle. Call the salvage yards in your area and call ones in nearby cities as well. You may find that they offer substantially different offers, and even though one junkyard might be farther away, its offer might be significantly more and worth the trip.
Some junkyards pay more for certain makes and models depending on their demand. Before calling, be familiar with your vehicle, the list of damages, and do your homework ahead of time so you’re prepared to answer questions honestly to get the most accurate offer.
Do not forget to inquire about towing costs if that’s something that you will need. Just as if you were in the market to buy a car, it’s best to call several facilities to get the best price for your car.
Do Your Homework Ahead of Time
Before you start calling to get estimates for how much your vehicle is worth, be prepared to answer questions about your vehicle. You not only need to know the car’s make, model, and year, but you should also be able to honestly and as accurately as possible describe a list of damages to the vehicle.
Write as much information down and keep that list available for when you’re on the phone. Also keep a list of the vehicle’s assets. Does it have a GPS system? Did you add anything to the vehicle after market? Don’t forget to be an advocate for your vehicle, too.
Remember though that the junkyard needs to make a profit as well, so you are not going to receive an offer for their full value of anything that’s in your car. There’s labor on their end that must go into preparing the parts to be reused and recycled.