5 Common Junk Car Selling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Did you know that more than 14 million tons of steel are recycled from junkyard cars each year?

Currently, the value of steel per ton is over $100. Trash yard owners are making a lot from your old vehicles.

Read our guide to junk car selling mistakes to ensure you get a fair price for your salvaged vehicle.

  1. Not Signing a Release of Liability

Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles prior to selling your vehicle. When you sell a car you need to transfer liability to the purchaser. Doing this removes you from anything the junkyard owner does with the vehicle.

Each state has a different process for transferring liability. That’s why it’s best to contact the state department and ensure you’re doing it correctly, even though it might be tedious.

If you fail to do this, you can be sued in the event that the junkyard sells the vehicle to someone else, and something faulty happens.

  1. Signing the Car Away Before You See Cash

Simply put, don’t officially sign off anything until you have physical paper money in your hand, or see the money cleared in your checking account. Junkyard owners can scam you into signing paperwork before a check clears or you receive your full payment.

How can you avoid this? Legitimate salvage yards will understand and respect a firm stance and a clear process. If they are wishy-washy, allow them to take the vehicle, but do not sign any paperwork. If they don’t pay, you can contact the police because technically the vehicle is stolen property.

  1. Not Reading Salvage Yard Reviews First

Every business seems to have that one horrible one-off review from a seemingly unstable internet troll. At this point, competent people can tell the difference between one crazy person’s bad experience, and the positive experience reported by dozens of other people.

But, if a junkyard has many bad reviews, chances are there’s some truth in them. Doing a little bit of homework and researching legitimate auto salvage yards first, can save you a lot of time and money.

Don’t be afraid to get a few quotes and to consider multiple bids. Especially don’t let anyone convince you that your vehicle is “worthless” or worth less than it actually is.

  1. Not Charging for Upgrades and Personal Items

When we’ve owned a vehicle for a long time it’s easy to overlook the value of the upgrades and “extras” you’ve put in over the years. Look up your vehicle’s make and model to verify that you are selling the vehicle for the right price. You could have an upgraded version that’s worth more.

Stereos, lighting, lifts, engines etc. should all be considered. Even personal items like car seat covers should be considered. Make sure you calculate everything into the selling price. Remove and uninstall anything junk car buyers haven’t actually paid for before you hand it off.

  1. Avoid Junk Car Selling Mistakes: Get it In Writing

It’s not uncommon for junkyard owners to say one thing only to change it later. Get their quote in writing and be specific with what that number includes and doesn’t include. As we mentioned above, ensure you communicate what upgrades and accessories the buyer is or isn’t paying for.

Then, consider logistics. Is towing or delivery part of the price? Or does the buyer expect you to pay for this?

How is the buyer paying? Cash is best. If they’re paying by check or money wire, what are the terms?

Selling Junk Cars Right

Following this guidance will help you avoid common junk car selling mistakes. Like anything, always trust your gut. If something feels “off” or someone is not being transparent, walk away.

Have more questions about how much your car is really worth? Click over to our homepage for more posts about how to get the most out of your vehicle.

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