How to Sell a Car

If you have a junk car — a car that no longer works or is not worth the cost to fix, you might be considering selling it. You won’t get as much money for a junk car as you would for an undamaged used vehicle, but there are steps you can take to ensure that you get the best offer possible.

Where to sell a junk car

You can sell a junk car through an online car-buying platform, to a private buyer or to a junkyard.

There are online platforms, like Peddle and NerdWallet Automotive Marketplace, that buy junk cars for used parts, scrap and resale. Both Peddle and NerdWallet Automotive Marketplace will pick up the vehicle from your home.

You may be able to sell to a private buyer through sites like Facebook and Craigslist, but be sure to vet potential buyers to avoid getting scammed. Private buyers are typically interested in buying junk cars for parts to restore or repair their own vehicles. In this situation, how much money you’ll get for your car through a private sale will vary depending on the buyer and the parts they need.

Another option is selling the car to a junkyard — businesses that buy and collect scrap metal for recycling. When selling to a junkyard, you’ll typically need to provide information about your car like its make, model, year and condition, then they may offer money for the vehicle’s parts. Most scrap yards provide towing services, so you won’t have to drop off the car.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Selling your vehicle for parts or to a junkyard will usually get you a few hundred dollars and should be reserved for cars that are in very bad shape.

How to sell a junk car

Regardless of where you decide to sell your car, there are key steps to take to get your car ready. Here’s a guide to help you through the process.

1. Determine your junk car’s value

Online valuation platforms, like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book, can show you how much others in your area paid for cars like yours and help you get an idea of how much your junk car might be worth. To see your car’s value through these sites, enter your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate or make and model.

You can also get an idea of your car’s value by getting an offer from an online retailer, such as Peddle or NerdWallet Automotive Marketplace. To do so, you must fill out a form about your car’s condition — you’ll be asked things like how many miles are on it, who owns it, etc. — then, you’ll get an offer. Online retailers’ offers are usually good for a couple of days or longer so you won’t have to make a decision immediately.

Knowing how much, if anything, you can expect to receive for your junk car will help you when comparing estimates from buyers.

2. Compare offers

In addition to online estimates, you can call local junkyards to see what they might give you for your vehicle based on its current condition. It’s important to contact multiple locations so that you can compare estimates when deciding whom to sell your car to. Online reviews from previous sellers can also help you determine which junkyard may offer the best service or be the best fit for you.

3. Gather the necessary documents

You’ll need to provide the title, which proves ownership of the vehicle, no matter which buyer or company you choose. If your car is paid off, you can request a duplicate title from your state’s department of motor vehicles, or DMV. If you still owe money on the car, your loan company has the title (it’s not released to you or a buyer until the vehicle is paid off).

The title replacement process through the DMV differs from state to state but you’ll typically need to provide proof of ownership by supplying your car’s VIN, license plate number, loan information and other identification to complete the process.

In addition to your car’s title, some buyers and businesses may ask for registration, insurance information, warranty information or proof of identification to make the sale.

4. Prepare your car and complete the sale

Depending on the details of the sale, the car may be inspected to make sure its physical condition matches what you described before the sale can be completed.

If you’re selling to a private seller, you may also need to transfer your car’s title and registration to the person who’s buying it. This usually requires you to sign the title and the buyer to take the signed title to the DMV — although the process varies based on specific states’ laws.

You don’t have to clean your junk car like you would when selling an operable used car, but be sure to remove all of your personal belongings, and depending on your state laws, you might need to take off the license plates before parting ways with the vehicle. If you’re in a state that requires you to remove the license plates, the plates can be registered again to a new car or surrendered to the DMV if you don’t plan to re-register them.

Once you make the sale, you may need to report to the DMV that your car has been sold or scrapped. Some states require a notification within a couple of days of the sale.