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Cash Auto Salvage

The Mechanic’s Special [Everything You Need to Know]

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Are you thinking about discarding your junk car? Most people don’t realize that even junk cars can make you a tidy profit. Salvage auto shops will take junk cars off your hands and even pay you for the privilege! 

These junk cars often fall into a specific category, called a “mechanic’s special.” Here’s what you should know about mechanic’s special cars and if your car falls under the category. 

What Is a Mechanic’s Special?

A mechanic’s special is essentially a car that’s gone through a lot. It may have been involved in an accident or it may have a collection of problems that makes it difficult to drive. These cars are called mechanic’s specials because the collection of problems is usually small and easily fixed by someone who knows what they’re doing, like a mechanic. Mechanics can buy these cars and personally fix them before using or selling the car forward. 

The mechanic’s special system works because most car owners don’t know how to bring their cars back to decent working order themselves. They’d need to pay a mechanic to get it done and usually spend an exorbitant amount before getting the results they need. This can be problematic and expensive when you just want to get rid of the car. Selling the car as-is removes the headache of having it fixed at your own expense. Instead, the shop can just take it off your hands and you walk off with a nice chunk of change. 

Selling Your Junk Car as a Mechanic’s Special

Selling your car off as a mechanic’s special may be the best way to discard an old vehicle. However, there’s more to it than just having your driveway free again. Here are the other benefits associated with selling your car off as a mechanic’s special.

Get Instant Cash

Selling off your junk car gets you instant cash without going through the whole process of getting it fixed. The auto company or buyer will have it appraised in its current condition and give you an appropriate amount for the whole item. You can get your money right there and then and spend it however you want. 

Note that the buying price of junk cars varies depending on the status of the car itself. For example, if the company estimates that they’d be spending a large amount on labor or parts, they might decrease the appraisal of the car to make up for the expected cost. 

No Worrying About Transport

Another beauty of selling off your junk car is that the buyers will likely visit you to check out the car. The transport of the car can be handled by the buyer, allowing you to just wait for the tow truck to arrive in your driveway. This takes away all the hassle of having to hire a third party and spending your money to haul the item off of your property. 

Better for the Environment

Selling off your old junk car is better for the environment. The car can be fixed and repurposed so another person can find it beneficial in their life. Keep in mind that old cars can also produce chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Without proper maintenance, these old cars can rot and produce contaminants that seep into the soil and poison your landscape. Having it sold to someone who will focus on its upkeep prevents the likelihood of one more car wasting away inside the garage. 

Open Up More Space

Cars take up a lot of space. Allowing your old car to stay parked in your garage or on your driveway causes you to lose valuable real estate for other concerns. You could use that space for a new car, tools for your hobbies, or just a place where you can set up in the afternoon and drink a few cans of beer. 

Save on the Registration

The law requires that all cars in your name must have an updated registration. This can be problematic if you’re not using the car at all. You’ll have to spend several hundred dollars to register a car that has zero value to you. This is why it’s best to sell a junk car as soon as possible.

Buy a New Car

Obviously, you can’t buy a new car with the proceeds from the sale of a junk car. However, the additional cash can add to the overall expense of buying your new vehicle. This is so much better than just simply scrapping your car for small change. With the right auto salvage company, you can get a decent amount for your junk car. Plus, since you’ll have more space, you’ll have somewhere you can place your new car! 

Best Places To Sell your Junk Car – NOT Craigslist

Unfortunately, a lot of people misuse the term “mechanic’s special.” They think that it refers to a car that doesn’t run or is badly damaged. However, it can be more than that. For example, some people buy cars that do not run but with a simple engine fix, the car starts to work again. 

Your junk car has excellent potential when placed in the hands of a knowledgeable person. But who exactly is a knowledgeable person? These cars are best sold to people or companies that have experience in the auto salvage business. You’ll find that they’ll be more upfront with their appraisal and have a better understanding of the actual worth of your car. 

When searching for an auto salvage company, here’s what you have to look for: 

  • Look for experience. The company should have been operating for a few years. This tells you if they have good business practices and the know-how to stay solvent, especially with the pandemic.
  • Look into the kind of cars they service. Ideally, your car should be one of the kinds that form part of their inventory. It can be a van, a Honda, a pickup truck, or any other model type. A company with a similar car model in their lot means they’ll find it easier to swap and replace parts. This helps with the appraisal and gives you a better price because all the tools they need to fix your car are already in their shop.
  • Try to look for a shop that approximates your own valuation of the car. To do this, try to appraise your car using tools available online. This way, you’ll have an idea of how much your car is worth. With this, you place yourself in a position where you can negotiate with the company and get a better deal. 

Craigslist is also another viable place to list your junk car. However, most car experts discourage you from listing a “mechanic’s special” on the site. Why? Well, people who crawl through Craigslist usually don’t have the background needed to truly appreciate the value of an old car. In most cases, these people are only starting to dip into flipping cars and have no concrete idea about how to turn project cars around. As a result, they’ll be using more outside help to bring a car up to scratch. This leads to a low appraisal value, causing you to earn less from the sale. Mechanic’s specials have also earned themselves a bad reputation on the site, meaning you’ll find fewer willing buyers. 

What Else Can You Do With Your Junk Car?

Of course, selling your junk car to an auto salvage shop is just one of the ways you can discard it. You can also try donating it to a mechanic school, selling off the scrap metal, trading it, or just turning it into a tax write-off. However, if you want to make the most out of your car, selling it as a mechanic’s special is typically the better idea. This puts you in a position of getting more cash compared to all the other methods mentioned above. 

If you plan to sell it off as a mechanic’s special, here are some things that can improve your leverage: 

  • Clean the car first – specifically the interior. This minimizes the need for the buyer to perform a thorough clean of the car. With less work on their part, they’ll be more generous when bargaining with the price.
  • Get the paperwork ready. Make sure you have the car’s registration with your name on it. If it’s passed on to you by a family member, try to produce documents that prove the transfer. Establishing ownership gives your buyer a guarantee that you have the right to sell it off.
  • Remove as much rust as you can. They’ll need to remove it either way, so you’re reducing the work they need to do on the car. 

Get Your Junk Car Appraised Today

Do you have a junk car that’s every mechanic’s dream? Get your mechanic’s special appraised today for a fair and reasonable estimate. Fill out this form and find out how much your old car is worth. With years of experience in the auto industry, we are confident in giving you fair and reasonable prices for your vehicle.

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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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